Doggone cold: Pets need plenty of exercise in winter

Denise Van Sickel walks pets like Emma and Peggy, two dogs owned by Leslie Bruce, as part of her Lawrence Pet Friends business. Humans may not love the cold weather a Kansas winter brings, but dogs don’t mind so much. And they need continuous exercise to stay healthy.

Peggy, who belongs to Leslie Bruce, of Lawrence, is ready for a long walk.

Dramatic changes in the weather can have a big impact on our daily routines. If you doubt that, just ask your dog.

The answer you receive will most likely be a vigorously wagging tail as he or she runs for a leash, then the door.

The reality is, most pets feel cooped up when the first couple of rounds of snow falls.

“Cool weather makes dogs frisky and makes them have a lot of energy,” says Denise Van Sickel, owner of Lawrence Pet Friends. “Most dogs love getting out in the snow.”

Van Sickel and her employees would know. They get out in the snow with area pets daily to exercise hundreds of dogs, even when it’s cold.

According to local animal experts, there are some tips for exercising with your dog during the winter months.

Veterinarian John Bradley, owner of Bradley Animal Hospital, 935 E. 23rd St., says pet owners should just use common sense when walking their pets in the winter months.

“I think it’s really important to maintain our activity level in the winter as with the summer,” he says.

Bradley says there are some hazards outside that pet owners need to avoid.

“If we’re just walking our indoor dog, we need to be careful about the salt that melts snow and ice,” he says.

Bradley adds that owners should bring extra drinking water for their pets and not to let them drink from pooled water.

“Antifreeze tastes sweet, so dogs and cats really like the taste of it,” he says.

And Bradley thinks extra clothes wouldn’t hurt, either.

“If we’re a short-haired dog and we’re not too active and we’re not used to going outside, then the sweater makes a lot of sense,” he says.

Van Sickel believes if it works, use it.

“If you can keep the boots on their feet, it’s a good idea, but most dogs don’t like them,” she says.