It's May 8th, and in Worcester County, the forecast is for showers, more showers, and moving on to even more showers. What's a responsible pet parent to do? Especially for those high-energy dogs and indoor/outdoor cats?
In observance of National Pet Week, keep in mind that responsible pet parenting isn't only about picking up poop, obeying leash laws, having a fenced-in yard, identification tags and other responsibilities. It's also your responsibility to keep your pet active and balanced, even when it's raining cats and dogs.
Most dog parents know, even in bad weather, you've still gotta walk the dog! Put on some bright-colored rain gear and get outside and walk! It's good for you AND your pet. If you have rain gear for your dog, put it on him or her too, or just let them get wet, most of them don't mind. And then be sure to towel dry or maybe even use a blow dryer on a low setting for your pup when you get home.
Some dogs (especially hound breeds) don't particularly like the rain. Not to worry! There are plenty of indoor activities you can use to burn off that puppy energy or high energy adult dog. If you have a long hallway or a clear area in a basement or other large room without breakables, toss a tennis ball or a squeaky toy lightly and low and have your pup retrieve the ball or toy. Teach your hound to sit and drop the item in front of you or into your hands. Use a clicker and a lot of "good dog!"s for positive reinforcement.
Something to chew on: chewing is natural for all dogs -- they have to chew just like they have to breathe, eat and drink water. So, give them something appropriate to chew on, or they'll find grandma's antique table or your leather furniture to be a great substitute! Rawhide chews are acceptable to some people, others frown on them. Nylabone products are good, but some dogs don't like them. Always supervise your canine pal while chewing anything. Throw away the chewy product when it starts to show too much wear and tear, or if your buddy is swallowing or attempting to swallow pieces of the toy.
What about those cats? Thankfully, cats do enjoy sleeping indoors, a LOT. If your cat enjoys both the indoors and the outdoors, he or she will make the decision whether or not they want to go outside in the rain. Some will actually go out, contrary to the myth that cats don't like rain! Others will take one step, shake their feet and high-tail it back into the house in a "what was I thinking?" maneuver guaranteed to make you bust out laughing.
As with dogs, give your kitty a toy to play with and engage in some indoor playtime with your cat. Those feather toys that are held on one end by the human and almost look like a fishing pole are a great diversion for a bored cat. Squeaky mouse toys that have motorized wheels that can zoom across a room at high speeds are another fun item. Just like dogs, cats love to chase a ball, but don't expect them to retrieve! And of course, the all-important catnip toys are sure to have your feline friend nice and relaxed after play time.
A rainy day is a great opportunity to come up with some creative ideas for fun indoor activities for you and your pet. Or, for the more adventurous, bring your canine pal outside and frolick uninhibited in the peace and quiet of a deserted dog park or walking area. Above all, have fun and don't mind a few little raindrops! Your healthy pet will thank you.