Cabin Fever - Helping Your Pet with the Winter Blues

January in the Treasure Valley--snow or rain falling, fog lingering, the sun hiding, and everyone shivering! With these extra short days ‘cabin fever’ can set in for all of us---pets included.

A pet’s pent-up energy may result in destructive and negative behavior. A restless or bored dog may exhibit unusual vocalizing (barking, howling, whining), have accidents indoors, scratch at doors, and/or chew on furniture, carpet, or shoes. In an effort to save your sofa and your sanity, here are a few ideas to help the whole household cope with cabin fever.

Getting outside. While people are busy, out and about at work or school, the dog often remains home and on particularly wet, cold, or snowy days, this may mean he remains indoors the entire day.Veterinary Blog - When Pets Get Cabin Fever During Long Dark Winter Months If temperatures are not sub-zero and walkways are cleared of ice and snow, make an effort to bring your dog outside every day. A quick walk (even to the bus stop or around the block) will help release some energy.

Interactive Toys and Treats. On those wintery days when illness, weather, or a busy schedule keeps you inside all day, utilize an interactive toy. There are numerous toy options that enable you to hide a treat inside and keep your pet occupied and trying to find it. These toys provide both mental and physical stimulation. 

Playing Indoors. If you have stairs, try running your dog up and down a few times. A game of fetch up and down the stairs would also make a great workout. Long hallways, an empty garage or basement, or other safe indoor areas will serve as a nice ‘plan B’ in place of winter walks. Even a quick a game of tug while you catch the news or during a commercial break will engage your dog and help her relieve some energy. Note: senior dogs may be more inclined to slumber through winter days and nights, gently help them stay active, too.

Plan a play date. If your dog has a furry friend, an indoor play date could be a great way to release some energy. In addition, there are numerous doggy day camps around the Treasure Valley that offer a place for indoor exercise and socializing with other dogs. A visit a few days a week may be the solution for a bored, lonely dog.  

Don’t forget your feline. Cats who are accustomed to being indoors and outdoors during milder weather may become restless and bored as well. Schedule a little extra play time with a favorite toy to keep them entertained.

Sometimes, on these extra gray days in Southwestern Idaho it feels like spring is a long, long way off. If you feel some “Winter Blues” sneaking up on your household, make some time for play. Your pets will thank you—and you’ll end up feeling a little brighter and lighter yourself. 

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