During the winter months, we ALL tend to put on a little weight. People and pets typically put on a few pounds as the days get shorter and the temperatures dip. We tend to blame our extra pounds on those glorious holiday meals and too much pie. But what about our pet’s weight gain? Why are they looking so plump?
The easiest answer to this question is “survival”. Before our dogs and cats became domesticated, they needed to prepare for winter by fattening up. They needed the extra calories to create fat for warmth and as a food reserve when game was scarce. Now, with most of our pets living indoors, they no longer need those extra calories. Unfortunately, our pets are unaware of this fact. They still have an innate increase in appetite as winter approaches and may need a little assistance in keeping their weight in check.
Like people, successfully reducing your pet’s weight requires less calories and more exercise. Since all pets require a different number of calories, sometimes determining the correct caloric intake can be difficult. Reviewing the serving suggestions on your pet’s food bag is a great place to start. If you reduce the amount of food you are feeding, you will need to ensure that your pet’s minimum protein needs are still being met. A recommendation from your veterinarian is often helpful if you are unsure. Treats should also be carefully rationed, amounting to no more than 10% of their daily caloric intake.
AND, don’t forget to exercise! Whether it’s a rambunctious game of fetch or a brisk winter’s walk, the fresh air and the exercise will be healthy for you both.