Winter: A time of holiday celebrations with friends and family. A time where savory roasts fill our tables and tempting leftovers fill our refrigerators. And a time when snuggling under the covers half an hour longer is much more appealing than getting up to walk the dog through the frigid tundra of the neighborhood.
Keeping off the winter weight proves difficult for pets and owners alike, but preventing weight gain in your dog is much easier than struggling with him to shed the excess pounds in the spring. With these helpful tips, you'll be able to help keep your furry friend fit and healthy throughout the winter season.
Get a pre-winter health report from your vet
The best way to start monitoring your dog’s weight is to know his current condition. At the checkup, ask about any underlying conditions your dog may have that may predispose him to extra weight gain. Your vet can help you determine his ideal weight, set health goals, and even recommend some winter exercises to help him meet those goals. You can also quickly check your dog's body condition at home.
Cut down on treats early in the season
It’s tough, but start restricting his regular treats early in the holiday season and definitely don’t feed him table scraps. Just like humans, dogs can easily gain weight over the holiday season due to the availability of delicious food at every turn. Not only will this early restriction of indulgence discourage him from begging at the table, but you'll also save him from surplus calories that may add up quickly and more strenuous dieting measures after the holidays.
Modify your dog's exercise routine
Lucky for you, long subzero jaunts around the neighborhood may be way too harsh for your dog too. In the winter, aim for shorter, more frequent walks to keep your dog from getting too cold for too long. Backyard activities such as building snowmen and sledding can be fun for the whole family, and it’s a great way to get your dog outside and moving. When going outside isn't an option, get creative with indoor play – race your dog around the house or up the stairs to keep him active, and give him brain teaser toys to keep him mentally stimulated.
Check out tips from Dr. RuthAnn Lobos, DVM, from our Winter Wellness Twitter Chat for more ways to help keep your dog safe, healthy, and happy this season.
Adjust your dog’s blend of food for his seasonal needs
Winter presents challenges and changes that every dog must face. Unless your dog typically increases his activity in the winter months, he probably doesn't need as many calories as he does when he’s more active. In order to make sure he’s consuming the appropriate number of calories, be sure to adjust his personalized blend of food to match his current weight, winter activity level, and any changes you've seen in the dryness of his skin.
Dealing with winter weight isn’t easy, but there are many steps a dog owner can take to help combat the gain early on. With minor adjustments to his eating and exercise, “Help Benji drop a few pounds” could be one less New Year’s Resolution you’ll have to keep.
BONUS READ: What's the Best Exercise for My Dog?