Like a lot of people, pets slow down during the cold winter months and therefore tend to put on a few pounds. It’s important to watch for this and adjust feeding and exercise schedules so you’re not struggling to lose those extra pounds come spring!
Consider the amount of food your pet is eating and your pet’s current weight and body condition. As pets tend to want to stay inside out of the cold weather, they often do not get the same amount of exercise as they may during warmer months running outside.
You may have to decrease your pet’s caloric intake by 10-15% or more. Take into account both the amount of pet food you give your pet daily as well as the treats you give, as those, like human candy bars, etc, are packed full of calories. If you want to give treats, consider giving pieces of his normal dog food or breaking a treat into several pieces. To obtain caloric amounts for pet foods and treats, check out the website or call the company’s number listed on the package.
Now, for exercise….that dreaded word! For your dogs, consider bundling up for a walk around the block daily. It will do both you and your dog good to get out in the fresh air during the cold, grey winter months. Many area metro parks also have pet friendly trails, which would be a nice change of scenery. You can still throw a ball or toy for him in the yard if it’s not too icy.
For the indoor dog, other than a walk, encourage him to move with you from room to room. During commercial breaks, get him up and both of you take a walk around the house or up and down the steps once or twice. It’s good for you and your dog! If space allows in your house, you can also roll a ball down the hall for him to chase.
Cats tend to be on the lazy side no matter what time of year. Many people “free feed” their cats, meaning there’s food in the bowl 24/7. Some cats will regulate themselves, but some, especially in multi-cat households, will not. You’ll often have one cat who shoves the others out of the way to eat as much as possible. Consider putting small amounts of food in several locations throughout the house. This will encourage your cat to move and discourage binge eating.
Limit treats as they are calorie rich. The bag may say they are 2 calories and you can give 10-15 pieces per day, but that is still a lot of any cat! Ten pieces at 2 calories each is 20 calories…several candy bars worth of calories to us! Keep treats to a minimum.
Cats can be made to exercise! Even if it’s just having to move from room to room to find food! Laser pointers make good cat toys when used appropriately. Toss toys around for your cat. Many cats will also play with waded up pieces of paper or foil balls. You can also encourage your cat to follow you from room to room.
It’s important to maintain a healthy weight and body condition for your pets just like it is for yourself. One pound to a cat or 5 pounds to a dog is like us gaining 10-15 pounds. That extra weight can be hard on joints and muscles, hard on the heart, and also lead to diabetes.
Make it your New Year’s Resolution to help your pet maintain a healthy weight! Suburban Animal Clinic offers FREE weight checks to pets who are clients! All we ask is that you call ahead and we’ll be happy to have your pet weigh in and record it in their chart.
The staff of Suburban wish you and your pets a healthy winter season!