How many times do you hit the snooze button in the morning?
Let’s face it, getting up early so we can attend to those morning dog walks can be tough when the days get shorter and the temps start to drop. And walks can be virtually impossible on snow days. Yet, winter weight can be a bear to work off come spring, and can actually harm your pet’s health.
Extra weight in general is not good for your pet, but those pounds can also add up over the years to obesity. Pet obesity can not only lead to serious conditions like diabetes and arthritis, but can actually shorten your pet’s life by 2-3 years.
As cooler weather comes with reduction in outdoor activity and exercise, it needs to be balanced with a corresponding change in food portions, and/or an increase in indoor activity. This is equally true for us and for our pets.
Before you slide into the usual winter routine, it’s a good idea to plan ahead regarding weight management and activity for your pet this season.
Winter Weight and Food Portions
Portion control can greatly impact your pet’s health and ability to maintain optimal weight. A good way to balance a significant decrease in activity would be to cut back on meal portions, particularly if your pet is gaining weight.
Since weight gain (and loss) if often difficult to detect on a pet, maintaining your pet’s regular physical examinations can help monitor this. If your pet is struggling with weight gain or obesity, a nutritional consultation can help us determine the type of diet that would be best for weight loss, proper portion size, and any underlying conditions or diseases that may be present.
Another reason why pets tend to pack on the pounds during the fall and winter is due to our own eating habits. The more we indulge; the more likely we are to indulge our pets. To help them stay as healthy as possible, avoid doling out table scraps and extra treats (yes, even on holidays). A couple hundred extra calories here and there can have a big impact on our pets.
Indoor Pet Exercise and Activity Ideas
As far as exercise…yes, it might be frightful or frigid outside, so on those days it is safer for your pet to stay indoors. However, there are fun ways to work off pent up energy through playful activities.
Whenever the weather doesn’t allow for outdoor activity, here are great exercises and activities to try indoors with your pet:
- A rowdy game of hide and seek in a large room or basement (glass vases and other breakables stashed away, of course)
- Find the food: break your pet’s winter portion of kibble into small piles hidden around the home for some seriously tasty sleuthing
- Food puzzles are popular choices and can challenge your pet both mentally and physically
- Fetch can also be done indoors by using a soft nerf type ball or toy
- The ever popular tug-of-war can really burn off some energy for your rambunctious canine
- Kitties go berserk for those cheap yet entertaining Cat Dancer toys
- Some dogs get really psyched over learning new tricks – and it is a wonderful way for you to reinforce your bond
- Call over some neighborhood pet pals for a dog or cat playtime party – offering much-needed socialization and plenty of exercise
The winter blahs need not turn into the winter bulge. There are many ways to keep your pet exercising and fit through some basic adjustments to diet and activities.