As the seasons change, you may be tempted to stray from your pet’s routine activities and stay inside where you are more comfortable. After all, exercising in the cold and heat can’t be good for your pet, right? While exercising in extreme heat can lead to heat stroke, and spending too long outside in the cold can cause hypothermia, you can adapt your pet’s routine so they can safely exercise outside year-round. Your pet relies on daily activity to burn off extra energy so they don’t become bored and tear apart your couch cushions. Daily activity also provides much-needed mental stimulation as your pet sees, smells, and hears new things. Follow Bayside Animal Hospital’s seasonal guide and adjust your pet’s exercise routine as the weather changes.
Exercising your pet in the winter
Although winter temperatures rarely dip below freezing in central California, your pet can still become chilled, especially if they get wet. Never leave your pet outside in the rain as a form of exercise, as their body temperature can drop dangerously low, and they can quickly become hypothermic. Instead, plan your daily exercise around the rain, and head outdoors with your dog when the rain stops to walk, jog, or play fetch. If the weather outside is cool, bundle your dog in a jacket and booties to help keep their core body temperature up, and protect their feet from injury.
Getting outside every day during the rainy season can be challenging, so also plan indoor activities that will get your pet moving, such as:
- Throwing a ball down the hall
- Playing hide and seek with your pet
- Hiding treats around your home for your pet to find
- Creating an obstacle course for your pet to navigate
- Learning a new trick
Cats need daily exercise as well, and indoor activities like chasing a robotic mouse or feather wand can help satisfy their predatory instincts.
Exercising your pet in the spring
Sacramento Valley’s beautiful spring, with its sunny weather and mild temperatures, is the perfect time to resume daily outdoor exercise. Look for new hiking trails where you and your dog can enjoy the fresh air and sights, sounds, and nature smells. Check out the Folsom Parkway Rail-Trail, or the Dave Moore Nature Area, where your pooch can wade in the river to cool off on warm days. Keep your dog on a leash while hiking so they do not run after a wild animal and become lost. Remember to pack plastic bags so you can clean up after your dog.
You can also take your pet to one of the many area dog parks to socialize with their furry friends. But, before allowing your dog to play with others, ensure they are up to date on their vaccines and parasite preventives, so they do not pick up an infectious or parasitic disease.
Exercising your pet in the summer
Although summer temperatures can be hot, you can change your exercise schedule to allow you and your pet to enjoy outdoor activities. Instead of a lunchtime walk, when the sun is hottest, exercise in the early morning or evening hours, when temperatures are lower. Always ensure your pet has plenty of cool water, and take frequent breaks to prevent them from overheating. Watch your pet closely for heat exhaustion signs, which include:
- Excessive panting
- Vomiting or diarrhea
Remember that hot pavement can burn your pet’s paw pads. Feel the pavement with your own hand before walking your pet—if it feels hot, stick to the grass or a shaded trail.
Exercising your pet in the fall
As temperatures cool down and kids head back to school, fall is a great time for your pet to also learn a new skill. Try out a new sporting event with your dog, such as:
- Lure coursing
- Dock diving
- Fly ball
- Disc dog
A number of canine sporting events can keep your pet’s body and mind active. As an added bonus, joining a sporting community can help you meet like-minded people looking to keep their pet active and healthy. In the cooler temperatures, your dog can exercise more vigorously with less concern about overheating, and more fully enjoy their new hobby.
Fall is also a great time for your cat to enjoy the outdoors. Try taking your cat outside on a leash and letting them sniff around your backyard. They will probably be overjoyed to finally investigate areas they have longingly looked at through the window.
Our Bayside Animal Hospital team wants to help you keep your pet active and healthy all year long. Give us a call to ensure your pet is up to date on their vaccines and parasite preventives before your next outdoor adventure together.