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Published: Oct 31, 2012

Winter is just around the corner, and the weather is already starting to get colder in some parts of the country. If you're a dog owner, it might feel like an inconvenience to put on your boots, hats, gloves and parka just to take your dog around the block, but helping her stay fit and healthy is important year round. Here are some suggestions on how to make those brutally cold morning-walks more manageable.

Consider walking your dog for exercise
In the summer, it can be fun to talk long, slow strolls in the shade with your canine companion. But in the winter, you probably want to get your walks over as fast as possible. Walking quickly with your dog isn't necessarily a bad thing - in fact, it's one of the best forms of treatment of dog obesity. A brisk, healthy walk can help your pet lose any extra weight, while also getting your own blood flowing (and keeping you warmer in the process).

Indoor play is always an option
Who says the only way to exercise with your dog is to walk around outside? Indoor play can be beneficial for your pet and serve as a bonding exercise. If you have enough space in your home, you can play games like fetch or tug-of-war with some of your dog's favorite toys. Just be sure to clear enough room so she won't careen into furniture when chasing her ball.

Talk to a veterinary expert
A visit to one of your nearby vet clinics can also help you make sure you are doing everything necessary to keep your canine fit and healthy during the colder months. Your vet may suggest that you make alterations to her diet, or have more advice about ways you can encourage exercise while staying warm and cozy.

Winter travel plays a part
If you're going on vacation this winter, remember that you'll have to make sure your pet is taken care of while your away, unless you plan on traveling with your dog. When investigating kennels, ask about exercise programs to make sure your dog will be able to stretch her legs frequently every day you are away. Be sure to inform the caretakers at the facility of your dog's usual walking schedule and habits so that they can maintain her routine as much as possible.