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Helping your pooch through Midwestern winters

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Are you afraid that after being cooped up at home with little source of exercise that your pooch will have a pooch by spring? With the Midwest having crazy cold temps (today’s high could potentially reach a whopping 12 degrees!), it is not even safe for you or for your pet to be meandering out on the streets just to get a walk in.

A couple of days ago, Chicagoland recorded record low temperatures. Warnings were on the television, radio and appeared in print that if you or your pet did not have to go out, not to. If the dog had to use the outdoor facilities, only let them be out for a short period of time or their pads could freeze. With this being the case, what can a pet parent do to keep their pet fit and trim and healthy?

It is obvious that your pet will not be running around the yard like they do in the other seasons but there are ways to keep them exercised. If you have a basement, you can always toss the dog a ball, keeping the muscles tightened – as well as the belly. Pen lights can also intrigue a pet for hours on end and keep them active while the snow piles up outside. Whatever you decide to use, make certain that you maintain some sort of playtime with your dog. Depending on the size, age and breed of the dog, a good amount of time is between 30 and 120 minutes each day (source is the January, 2014 FamilyCircle.com).

While many of us like to hole up and eat our way through hibernation, dogs are ordinarily smaller and it is unhealthy for them to eat until they explode. The holidays don’t help with overfeeding as there is typically excess food which many share with the pooch. This is tough though, because once the dog receives extra, they ordinarily like to continue and will beg for more whether they are hungry or not. Paying attention to caloric intake, however, will help your dog retain its trim form and will keep him or her healthy through the winter months.

Ever heard of S.A.D. disorder (seasonal affective disorder)? Well, here’s to tell you that dogs can get it, too – for the very reasons stipulated above. In fact, according to the UK’s leading veterinary charity, as many as one in three dogs display a downturn in mood during the cold season.

S.A.D. comes into play with lack of sunlight. Helping a dog through this may be easier than it is for a human being to get over it. If you notice that your dog is down, simply place their bed near a window with the most sunlight possible so that the dog is able to look out. Toys will help, too. There are some great dog puzzles out there that hide treats (but remember to count them in when counting calories) to keep the dog engaged.

These are but a few suggestions how to help your pooch through the wintertime in the Midwest. Although it may feel like it this week, our weather is sure to get better. Engage the dog and time will pass quickly for him or her, too.

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