Turn Up The Lights
Like humans, pets become lethargic with the low light of winter. Sunlight provides Vitamin D, which pets and humans alike need for good overall health. Sunlight also affects our melatonin levels. Melatonin helps regulate sleep cycles and it's produced when it's dark, which is why winter's reduced hours of daylight make us groggy. To give your pets more energy through light, open up the drapes and curtains during the day to let the light in and put your pet's bed or cat tower near a window so they can absorb as much light as possible when they're not outside. When you do go outside, try to make it at times when the sunlight is brightest and spend a little extra time to soak up the sun. When the sun goes down, make sure you turn up the lights and keep your house bright until it's time for bed.
While you may take your dog out for potty breaks, they're probably not getting enough outdoor time to play and get exercise. To keep your animals active, make some time to focus on playtime with them. Just like your children need kids' toys, your pets need something to play with indoors. Give them extra love and attention by rearranging your living room furniture for an hour to play a gentle game of catch or tug-of-war. If you have stairs, make it a temporary playground so your dogs or cats can get in some running up and down the steps when it's too cold to go outside.
Try teaching your pet tricks. Giving them activities to focus on stimulates their brains. Just like we need to read books, listen to music, and learn new skills to keep our minds fit, your pets need mental exercise as well. It keeps their brains active as they age, and it's a way to keep the bond between you and your pet strong.
Meal Time Workout
Pets aren't getting quite as much exercise during the winter, and that means they're not burning as many calories from their meals. You can cut down on their calories by making mealtime challenging. Use a slow feeder pet bowl or put a ball in the pet bowl so they have to eat around objects and extend their mealtime. You can also make your own treat toys; Kol's Notes has a few great DIY treat toys ideas to draw out feeding time and make it more challenging for pets to get to their food.
If you really want to treat your pup, you can sign him up for doggy day care. Doggy day care lets your dog get together with other dogs for play while you're at work. Doggy day cares have the facilities for dogs to run around indoors when they can't get outside because of the weather. Even if it's once or twice a week, it's a treat you may not be able to provide at home.
The winter is hard on everyone, but Valentine's Day gives us and our pets a little break from the winter blues. With a little bit of time, love and attention, we can make our pets' winter days a little more fun.