Keeping The Winter Weight Off Your Pets

A dog dozing on the floorJanuary is here, and with it the usual round of health-related New Year’s Resolutions. While we are taking the time to reflect on where we may have neglected our own health and wellness, why not ask ourselves where we might improve these areas of our pet’s lives as well?

Seasonal pet weight gain is a fact of life for most animals who live in a seasonal climate, whether that’s trying to prevent the weight from creeping on or struggling to lose it after the fact. Keeping our pets fit and healthy over the frigid Midwestern winter can be a challenge, but one worth fighting for.

No Laughing Matter

The internet is chock full of adorable pictures of chubby cats and plump pups, and while we may find these animals cute, the fact is that pet obesity is a serious issue in our country. Overweight and obese dogs and cats face many of the same issues as overweight humans and, as pet parents, it’s our job to protect our furry friends from these risks.

First Things First

If your pet has not been in for a wellness exam in the past 6-12 months now is the time to do so. We will assess your pet to determine his or her appropriate weight and address any underlying medical concerns that may make staying in shape more difficult.

Calories In, Calories Out

The old adage still holds true today. It’s so easy for both pets and people to keep eating the same amount of calories in the winter (or, ahem, even more) as in the summer even though we aren’t exercising as much. It’s important to be extra vigilant about what our pets are consuming this time of year:

  • Feed your pet-high quality pet food
  • Break treats into halves or quarters to make them smaller, or eliminate them altogether
  • Cooked, plain vegetables make tasty and healthy alternatives to traditional pet treats
  • Avoid giving your pet table scraps
  • Keep pets out of the room while the rest of the family eats
  • Use non-food rewards, such as praise or playtime, when training

Exercise Is Essential

Just because our winters are long and brutal here in Illinois doesn’t mean we have to give up on exercising our pets (or ourselves)! There are countless opportunities to have fun and burn calories with our best pals all winter long:

  • Yes it’s cold, yes there’s snow on the ground, but get out there and walk anyway!
  • Obedience training, agility classes, and obstacle courses provide both exercise and mental stimulation for dogs of all shapes and abilities.
  • Indoor cats benefit from cat trees, laser pointer or feather chase games, even wadding up a newspaper or offering your cat a box or paper bag can provide hours of calorie burning fun.

If your pet is already overweight or you have found yourself struggling with keeping his or her weight down, your team at Prairie Ridge Veterinary Clinic can help you figure out a plan to get your best pal back on track.

posted in:  Pet Health  |  Pet Safety