Yet another thing to worry about: Pet cabin fever.
I can confirm one case. Lily, our mini doxie, stared aimlessly out the window. She barked at anything moving, dried leaves, street litter, the odd bird, anything.
She seemed listless, not herself, and irritated. It was not the Lily we know.
Apparently pet cabin fever is something of a growth industry in the pet biz. The Internet is loaded with advice, special toys, books and more than a million hits on Google.
There’s agreement on cause: Heavy snow and bad weather keeps pets indoors, as it does the rest of us. The usual pattern of daily walks, greatly anticipated by Lil’ and her pals, is broken. Places normally investigated for dog friends cannot be reached. So depressing.
I sought advice at pawnation.com, petside.com and Petco.com, plus the smarts of my pet-loving human friends. I came up with a regime that gets results. Lily seems happier now, and I am too.
1. Keep ‘em moving
All depression victims sleep too much. It’s an easy habit. Lily now goes outside with me every time I go outside, taking out the trash, getting the mail, shoveling snow. We play Find Jim on our drive. Being a hound, she adores rabbit tracks. I dug a race track for her after the last storm.
2. Build social groups
Snowed-in pets are deprived of their own best friends, the dogs next door. Facebook doesn’t work for them, so my neighbor brings hers over for convivial companionship. Be careful, as there’s a lot of pent-up energy. Someone must be appointed party referee.
3. Be Richard Simmons
You’ll soon learn your dog loves to exercise with you. Show him your work-out room and fun gear. Lily and I have a favorite: Fetch Jim. She sits at the top of our stairs, waiting. Sometimes the anticipation is too much. I say “come” and she comes flying down the stairs. Then she does her Dance of Excellent Happiness, and we repeat.
4. The food thing
Your pet won’t need treats to participate. We don’t want extra calories, harder to burn off in winter. Stick to regular diets and reserve the bacon chew sticks for really special events.
5. Don't go nuts
Let your pet determine how much remediation. When they walk away, they’ve had enough. Some owners have five-minute cool-down sessions, basically a quiet massage time, that helps calm muscles and tells your pet, “We're done.” Now back to the window and defending the neighborhood from snowflakes.