We’re all eager to make the most of the last leg of summer, and for those of us who are lucky enough to own a pet, this means outdoor activities with our furry friends. Sure, we all know the basics of keeping our pets happy and healthy during the final dog days of summer: don’t leave them in hot cars, keep them well hydrated, offer shade options outside, among others. However, did you know that there are a few little-known ways you can treat your pets to some special summer lovin’ as well? Read on for some clever ideas to keep your pets entertained and cool as cukes in the late summer heat.
Boredom Can Be Ruff
All pets benefit from mental stimulation through puzzles and play—in fact, a lack of this mental playtime can actually make your pets bored (yes, really!). It’s one of the top reasons they may get a little defiant…and hey, who can blame them? Sitting at home all day with nothing to do can be difficult for any pet—hence the sad puppy dog eyes when you walk out the door (cats excluded). While walks are great to help your pets exert some physical energy, they don’t do enough to provide the mental stimulation that all pets need.
One of the best ways to keep your dog entertained is through hide-and-seek puzzle games. These are also super amusing to watch, so it’s safe to say that they’re entertainment for us humans, too. You can make this game even more fun (and refreshing) by using frozen dog treats for the hide-and-seek bait. Place the treats in various locations throughout the yard before you leave for the day, and your pup can sniff them out while you’re gone.
To make the “dogsicles” for hiding, simply blend together a can of pumpkin with a cup of yogurt and whole banana, and freeze the mixture in silicone ice cube trays (the silicone makes them much easier to pop out). This is just one of hundreds of recipes around the internet—feel free to play around and see what your dog prefers!
Not wanting to constantly get out of your hammock to hide said treats? Use a giant silicone baking dish instead of an ice cube tray. Add a few treats and/or your pet’s fave toy to some carrots, green beans, low-sodium chicken broth, and water, freeze, and then voila! Minimal effort on your part, and a big pile of frozen awesomeness for your furry pal! Pro tip: put ice cubes in with the mixture prior to freezing to keep the treats and toys from sinking to the bottom.
Catios Are the Cat’s Meow
Admittedly, this idea is a little more effort than freezing and hiding some treats, but it’s a long-term solution for an outdoor-loving cat. Research shows that cats’ lifespans can actually be reduced when they live outside because of the obvious dangers that they face. Solution: a “catio” (a.k.a. cat patio). If you’re into the whole DIY thing, there are hundreds of ideas on Pinterest that’ll show you step-by-step how to make a personalized space for your feline friend. You can also buy a wide variety of pre-made catios that are super easy to install.
For the super dedicated cat moms and dads out there, consider building an enclosed catwalk that runs from tree to tree in your yard; it’ll give your cat an opportunity to enjoy the cool grass while you’re workin’ hard to bring home the bacon and catnip. Don’t have the time or space to build a whole catio? Use some PVC pipes and a net to fashion together a kitty tent! Once your tent or catio is good to go, add fun games to give your cat a mental workout. Simple things like string, (fake) mice, and other toys can give them the playpen they so deserve.
Do you have a great idea for keeping your pets cool and stimulated? Have some ideas for pets other than dogs and cats? Share ‘em with us!