Welcome Mud Season
At the first sign of snow melting my family can’t wait to enjoy the fresh earthy spring air that comes with March (if we are lucky…but sometimes April). And each year I somehow manage to forget the impending chaos that is Mud Season in Canada.
Inevitably, blissfully blinded by the sun and changing temperatures, I open the door and the dogs rush past me. They launch themselves into the freshly melted water features that have created epic pools of marshland throughout our backyard. As they run and play large waves of glorious brown water fly through the air, speckled with bits of grass and muck. There is a look of pure joy on their muzzles as their toes (and often their full bodies) sink deep into the cool, sopping yard. Once they have thoroughly bathed themselves in nature's finest mud spa, they head for the door.
Like a deer in headlights I realize I am already too late. Scrambling, I reach for a towel before trying to block them with my body as they fly over the threshold landing with an immediate and instinctive full body shake. A long “Noooooooooooo….” echoes through the room as they employ evasive maneuvers avoiding my outstretched beach towel.
Mud has infiltrated our home. My spring excitement is somewhat diminished as I tackle wiping up fine droplets of mud and paw prints. What I need is a plan. Less chasing squirrels in the mud and more sidewalk strolls…sure, but how do I give our dogs that extra stimulation that they need until our yard dries out? The answer…puzzles and planning!
A great way to bridge that time between snow and grass is enriching your dog or cat’s day with indoor puzzles and games:
- Outward hound puzzles by Nina Ottoson: These are great to stuff with small treats and get your dog or cat using their highly intelligent minds to break in and get the prizes you’ve hidden.
- Use a puzzle as a scent training puzzle: You can also use these great games to hide a specific scent you want them to find. Track the scent…win a prize! New skills and boredom buster!!
- Let your pets hunt for their food: Dogs and especially cats LOVE to hunt for their favourite treats or meals. Make mealtime a game and get some extra exercise by tucking their foods in nooks and corners allowing them to put their highly developed sniffers to use.
- Treat Balls: These ingenious contraptions get filled with dry treats and as your pet rolls and plays it distributes snacks. It mimics the hunting we mentioned above without you doing all the hiding.
- Lick Mats: Not only do these mats keep your pet busy, but they stimulate the tongue in a way that foraging in the wild would. Usually made of silicone, these mats have dimples, ridges, and divots that force your pet to really work the food out. These are ideal for wet foods like raw, canned, broth, goat milks, or other spreadable healthy treats.
- Kongs & Toppls: Toys that can be stuffed are a great play item. Create a surprise treat but filling the toy’s centre with wet foods and crunchy bits. Your pet has to really work at it to reach the delicious centre. These are also great warm weather treats. Fill them and toss them in the fridge or freezer for a slow, cool treat on a hot day.
- Slow Feeders: These can be used daily for pets that eat too fast. The maze-like design of these bowls traps food in multiple areas so your pet is forced to slow down and work at each section to get its full meal. Slowing down a pet that hoovers their meals can lead to better digestion.
- Swing Sticks and Flirt Poles: Dogs and cats love the way these toys mimic small animals and flying things. A great way to use your pet’s desire to hunt as an exercise. Watch your pet’s bodies work hard crouching, leaping, running and pouncing on the target as you both have a blast! Even a quick 5 minute intense playtime with one of these toys will have your pet panting and tuckered out.
- Use this indoor time to practice teaching your pet a new trick: Avoid that messy yard AND learn a new trick you can show off. Not only is this great for your pet, it also is a wonderful opportunity for you both to bond.
Giving your pet a chance to exercise their mind is just as important as exercising their bodies. Using the few weeks of muck to change things up and opt for stimulating indoor activities is a great way to keep things fresh (and clean) while trying new things.
Is an animal lover whose interest in healthier living for herself and her family inevitably lead to choosing a fresher, more holistic lifestyle for her pets. Astounded by the health changes that fresh feeding and natural remedies brought to her pets, she wanted to help others find healthier ways to care for their pets. She is excited to be a certified Pet Nutrition & Raw Food Specialist team member at Pet Grocer and looks forward to helping others with their pet's journey to better health.