The Importance of Keeping Pets Active this Winter

Ming Wei Yeoh, Staff Writer

Pets are close companions to many. They can bring joy to the worst days, which is why their health and happiness is so important to look after. 

For Lynn Meyer-Kelzenberg, who owns spaniel and cockapoo mixes, exercising her dogs is an integrated part of life. Their breeds require more physical activity than average, and Meyer-Kelzenberg makes sure to cater to their needs by walking them a few times a day, taking them pheasant hunting and even letting them out to run and chase squirrels. 

As someone who works in IT and ecommerce, Meyer-Kelzenberg isn’t always home to care for her dogs. Having to look after them also takes away from hobbies she enjoys, such as ice fishing with her husband in the winter. Additionally, the responsibilities that come with living with two aging parents leave even less time for the dogs. But her parents are also key in helping ease the occasional burden. Being retired, they are able to look after them when the Kelzenbergs go out. This is what enables them to still enjoy their hobbies and removes the need for kennels or dog sitters. 

When asked if she thinks it is important to keep dogs active, Meyer-Kelzenberg said, “They need it. Say if I have a conference call, and I don’t do that, [my dog] Doug will act out, he’ll find tissue paper or anything he can tear apart.” 

She said that dogs in particular, as well as other pets who need physical activity, “need to run and get that exercise or they’ll get cabin fever themselves.” 

She mentioned that taking the time to exercise her dogs not only gives them the activity they need, but shows that their owner loves them enough to take them outside rather than keep them in a kennel, which can be crucial for the dog’s happiness. It also helps make sure the dog stays lean and healthy. 

As for the obstacle that seasonal changes can create, Meyer-Kelzenberg said that she still takes the dogs out for the same activities, such as running and hunting. While snow on the ground may not impede them, she admitted that there is not much she can do in the face of other weather difficulties, like rain, hail or storms. The dogs inevitably end up skipping their activity for the day. 

In the end, Meyer-Kelzenburg gave her recommendations to Minnetonka students and their families. Casual walks outside as often as possible is already very helpful for pets, and a run is even better. If students and their families have access to enough space, let them run freely in a fenced yard, if possible. If students enjoy hobbies like hunting like the Kelzenbergs, it can be a good idea to bring the dogs along. 

Jacqueline Davidson, Clinical Track Professor at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said, “Exercise is good for maintaining general health, and it helps keep your heart, muscles, and joints strong. It also helps with maintaining weight and their coordination.” 

Other studies showed that dogs that did not receive enough activity were more prone to external and internal injury, and they also had weaker muscles and bones. Some even developed emotional or personality issues. 

Overall, frequent exercise is one of the best things MHS students and their families can do for their pets. Though the cold weather may seem discouraging, try to take them outside once a day so that they can be as happy and healthy as possible.