Short winter days can take a toll on your pet’s mood, but there are plenty of ways to help your dog overcome the winter blues and maintain its vigor.
The winter blues, known clinically as seasonal affective disorder, affects nearly five percent of adults in the United States. While you might think SAD is exclusive to humans, our beloved pets are also vulnerable to the mood changes that often accompany winter. Being housebound results in restlessness for dogs just as it often does in humans.
So what can you do to help your dog fight off the winter blues? Here are six tips that might help.
Your dog’s appetite might increase during the winter months because it takes more energy to keep warm. Focus on feeding them a healthy diet that is filling and full of nutrients. Here are a few feeding tips for dogs to help them stay healthy during the winter months:
- Avoid feeding them toxins - The coldest months of the year are filled with plenty of holidays and gatherings complete with indulgent foods. Many of these party foods contain ingredients that can be toxic for dogs. Avoid feeding your dog yeast doughs, chocolate, or macadamia nuts, as these foods can make them quite sick.
- Pay attention to coat health - A dog’s coat is a helpful indicator of its overall health. If its coat isn’t healthy and shiny, you might want to take a closer look at what they’re eating. If they have intolerances or allergies, their coat can be negatively impacted. A veterinarian can perform an allergy test, or you can implement supplements into their diet.
- Prioritize meals that are easy to digest - Dogs need warm and fresh meals that are easy to digest. Consider boiled starchy vegetables, bone broth, and cooked chicken.
- Manage their caloric intake - Many dogs need extra calories in the winter to fight off the cold, while others become less active and need fewer calories. In either case, start by feeding your dog their normal amount and watching their weight. If they begin rapidly losing weight, increase their caloric intake. If they gain weight, cut back on calories until the weather warms up again.
It can be difficult to keep a regular exercise schedule during the winter, but staying active is one of the best ways to help your dog overcome the winter blues. Keeping up with a healthy diet and exercise will also help your furry companion stay in shape. You should still take your dog outdoors for walks whenever possible during the winter, but you’ll want to carry some indoor alternatives in your arsenal as well.
Here are a few suggestions for staying active with your pet indoors:
- Teach your dog to join you for walks on the treadmill
- Play games like tug-of-war, hide and seek, tag, or treasure hunt
- Set up an obstacle course
- Arrange a play date with another pup
- Create a scavenger hunt for food or a favorite toy
- Teach them some new commands
- Take a walk through the house and up and down the stairs
The cold weather can be tough on dogs, especially if they’re a puppy or a senior. Go the extra mile to keep them warm and comfortable with a bed, an extra blanket, and close proximity to the fireplace or heater. Making extra time to snuggle your pup will also release endorphins in your own brain, combating the winter blues for you, too.
Winter is an ideal time to enroll your furry friend in an exciting class or training session. In-person sessions give you both an opportunity to get out of the house, or virtual sessions can be taken from the comfort of your own home. These courses typically run for four to eight weeks, so it’s a great activity to break up the monotony of winter. A basic dog obedience course will cover:
- Social behavior
- Competitive skills
Play is another way to boost serotonin levels in your dog’s brain. Try to schedule some time each day to play with your pet, especially during the colder months. This will boost their mood, interest level, and even their appetite. To find the best games to play at home with your dog, research their breed traits. For example, herding dogs, such as border collies, love to play laser-pen beam games. Find activities that both highlight and test your dog’s abilities.
We all enjoy a little pampering every now and again, and dogs are no exception. One of the joys of owning a dog is being able to treat him or her with extra-special love and attention. Scheduling some pamper time during the winter is an excellent way to help them ward off the winter blues.
If you need ideas, try one of the following:
- Take your dog to the pet store and let them choose a new toy
- Using soft, sweeping motions along their body, give your dog a massage
- Buy your pup a new thick, comfortable bed and blanket
- Groom their paws with paw cream and a nail-trimming
- Brush your dog’s coat
Bring Plush Paws Products Along with Your Winter Adventures
We all tend to stay at home more during the winter months, but special outings are an essential way to help your dog overcome the winter blues. Hiking trails, dog parks, and friends’ houses are just a few of the places you can bring your best pal along.
No matter where you’re heading, make sure to bring a Plush Paws Products seat cover along! Our car covers will keep your vehicle clean, organized, and functional. Plus, they’re effortlessly easy to wash and reuse.
We also offer pet health products that keep your pets of all ages happy and healthy. Shop with us now to see the difference Plush Paws can make in your life!