Keeping your dog (or cat!) occupied and exercised indoors when it's just too cold to go outside...
Let’s talk about how cold it’s been over the past month. And snowy. So. Much. Snow.
I don’t know how much better (or worse?!) February is going to be this year, but I can tell you one thing—my wee Chihuahua, Raxl, is going to be spending most of this month the way she has spent January—inside.
That has meant getting creative with keeping my little dogger stimulated, not to mention making sure she gets enough exercise. I doubt I’m the only one experiencing this dilemma. Even if you are able to take your dog out, it may not be possible every day, or perhaps not as many times or for as long as you normally would. So, your poor pup may be going a little stir crazy…and then passing the crazy on to you. Let’s take a minute to talk about things to do with your dog indoors…to keep them occupied and exercised!
First things first, though. How cold is too cold? There are a few things that factor into this—body weight (the less fat and fur, the quicker your dog gets cold). Larger dogs can also handle a little more cold than the little guys. And if your dog is a senior, the cold is much harder on them (think arthritis and other joint issues being aggravated).
If you’ve got a Siberian Husky or a Samoyed, with a thick, double-layered coat, they can tolerate much colder temperatures. If you’ve got a breed with a thin coat, like a greyhound or a pit bull, they don’t tolerate the cold nearly so well. And let’s not forget that there may be a windchill factor to consider.
Generally speaking, if you have a small dog, 7 degrees Celsius (or 45 Fahrenheit, if you prefer) is still pretty safe. -1 to 4.5 Celsius (30-40 Fahrenheit) is potentially unsafe, depending on the breed (Are they a Northern breed? What is the length of their coat?). -4 Celsius (25 Fahrenheit) is dipping into dangerous weather for the little guys, and -6 and lower Celsius (20 and lower Fahrenheit) is potentially life threatening.
Medium dogs would be given similar consideration as small dogs, but they can often tolerate slightly more cold. Large dogs do best in the cold compared with the other sizes, but at 1.5 to -6 Celsius (20-35 Fahrenheit) you need to keep an eye on them, and once you’ve hit -9/-10 Celsius (15 Fahrenheit), it’s getting dangerous for most breeds.
If you notice weakness, shivering, trouble breathing, whining, slowing down, looking for warm places to burrow, your dog may be experiencing hypothermia.
Getting back to keeping those pupsters indoors…this can be a challenging time of year! All that pent-up energy—whether they’re simply on a reduced outdoor walk and park playtime schedule or if they’re trapped indoors full-time. What can you do to keep them occupied? Here are a few ideas:
Regan is a certified Canine Massage Therapist (CCMT), has certification in First Aid and CPR for Pets, and some beginner training in Herbal Remedies and Aromatherapy for personal use.