Jan 15, 2022 | By, For Pet's Sake

Help your pet burn calories during chilly winters

Rainy, windy, or cold weather probably doesn’t entice pet owners to go outside and play with their furry friends. This is especially true if your pet is short, prone to roll in mud, easily tempted to drink puddles on the ground, or hard to call back once they are allowed off the leash.

Nobody would blame you for choosing to stay inside with your pet on dreary days, but that decision doesn’t excuse you from meeting your pet’s daily exercise requirements. Animals are just like humans. If they don’t have enough physical activity in their routine, they are susceptible to obesity and other related health problems.

Every animal is different in terms of exercise requirements. Their regular food diet, the amount of treats they consume, their breed, their age, their metabolism, and genetics can all impact the amount of exercise they need. When it’s just too cold to exercise your pet, try the following methods to keep them active and in shape.

Fetch, tug-of-war, and other games

Traditional games that were once played outside in warmer months can be played indoors too. Use a straight hallway or the stairs to coordinate a game of fetch. Buy a couple of heavy-duty rope toys and try to wrestle them away from your dog at the other end. Cats love teaser toys that have something dangling or jingling at the end of them. They will also happily climb cat trees that fit perfectly in the corner of a room. 

Jumping exercises

Think about the last time you used the jump rope or did some squats in the gym. These exercises require significant energy because they target your leg and core muscles. The same concept applies for your dog. Enticing them to jump for a toy or over an object will tire out their legs. Tired legs lead to laying down on the couch or bed. The next thing you know, you have a sleeping dog who received some solid exercise and was rewarded for doing it.

Throwing treats in different directions

Choose some high-value treats that your pet can’t refuse and throw them across the room in various directions. The running and change of direction will tire them out, and even the animals who aren’t adept at playing fetch will keep going until they can barely stand anymore.


Do you have a fearless dog who doesn’t run out of energy quickly? Your treadmill could be the device that saves your life this winter. You may need to place some treats on the track to teach your pet how the machine works, and you’ll need to start them on a very slow speed. After they get the hang of it, you’ll be able to keep your pet in shape during the colder months, and you’ll have a fun party trick to show your friends when they visit you.

Mental stimulation from puzzles

Animals that aren’t stimulated enough mentally will resort to acting out in other ways. Some will bark, some will pester their owners to play, and some will become destructive. Don’t overlook the power of mentally stimulating your pet. It will wear them out just as much as physical exercise (although you shouldn’t completely replace physical exercise with mental exercise).

You can exercise your pet’s brain by practicing tricks, giving them puzzle toys, or creating an obstacle course out of objects around the house.

Health problems associated with lack of exercise

Skipping a day or even a week of exercise because of bad weather won’t cause the number on the scale to budge. However, it’s habitual laziness that jeopardizes their health. An animal who gets used to a routine without activity will learn to follow that routine, even when the weather gets warmer. It’s important to maintain high levels of activity throughout the year to keep them physically healthy on the outside and on the inside.

Recent research shows more than half of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. Chubby pets might seem cute, but the side effects of obesity are definitely not. Just some of those negative effects include diabetes, lower metabolism, arthritis, heart disease, skin disease, liver disease, and a weakened immune system. Obesity also increases the likelihood of complications during anesthesia, which is commonly used for surgeries and dental work. In addition, cancer is more likely in overweight pets because fatty tissue is a hospitable environment for cancerous cells to grow.

Unless you’re in the middle of a blizzard, there will be breaks in the weather that will allow for moments outside. Utilize those times to fit in some exercise in your yard or go for a brisk walk. Some pets will resist going outside in the colder weather anyway, which is a clear sign that you should make a spot for them to go potty near the house and commit to indoor activity until the weather starts to warm up again. 

Have a question about pet health? Want to become the best possible pet parent? Find helpful tips, reminders, and insight to giving your furry friend the best possible care with For Pet’s Sake! Learn more at drdevonsmith.com.