Stop Your Dog Getting Fat This Winter
As winter arrives, the weather gets colder and the nights get longer, we spend more time indoors snuggled up in blankets or by the fire eating roast dinners. Often dog owners just can’t resist giving their dogs the leftovers. This is usually because we don’t want to waste food or due to our dogs giving us puppy dog eyes.
These winter months become very busy, and we may forget that our dogs still need regular exercise on a daily basis. So what do you do to stop your dog getting fat this Winter? Their meal sizes shouldn’t change like ours do! We may be able to handle putting on a couple of pounds, but your dog’s weight is very important to their health and can cause a lot of damage later on in life. Keep your dog healthy, exercise and feed your dog with high quality food and don’t forget to feed the right amount for the dog’s size, age and breed.
Exercising your dog
Keeping your dog on the go may not be appealing to you in the freezing cold, but your dog needs the exercise. If you are struggling with the thought of a long walk with your dog, consider taking a trip to the park for a game of fetch. This will keep your dog’s heart rate going, while you stand there with many layers on!
Indoor agility is also a good way to keep warm and exercise your dog in the winter months, keeping the pounds off your dog and maintaining a healthy weight.
Another great idea is a running machine if you are an elderly person or disabled and unable to get outside in the winter conditions (snow,ice,rain) then owning a running machine may benefit your dog. You can get special running machines for dogs, but make sure you use them safely and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Watching your dog’s diet
It’s important their portions stay the same and that they are not spoilt by treats. If you must, you can treat your dog with plain chicken or turkey and a few cooked vegetables (if these foods do not upset their tummy), keeping the portions as little as possible and avoiding any gravy or sauces high in salt.
If your dog likes to beg or scavenge around food a good way to distract them when you’re eating your roast dinners is giving them a toy filled with peanut butter, or a chew/bone which should keep them busy and away from your food.
If you are unable to keep your dog active around these months, reducing their calorie intake may be a good idea. Without physical exercise, your dog won’t be burning off the calories needed to stop your dog getting fat. However, it’s always important to check this with your vet before changing your dog’s diet.
If you are an active person and own a working dog, you will find the cold doesn’t bother them at all. They will probably be full of energy and ready to work. Working dogs burn more calories out on hunts all day, so making sure exercise is still a big part of their life in the winter is vital.
Dogs have many different nutritional needs in different stages of their life. To make sure your dog is on the right amount of food and the right diet, visit your vet for some advice.
Portion size matters.
Purina did a test on Labrador retrievers from birth to death. Group 1 were fed as much as they liked and group 2 were fed 25% less. They found the Labradors with 25% less food were delayed by around 2 years before developing chronic diseases like arthritis than group 1 who ate as much as they liked. This study shows that giving your dog the right amount of food doesn’t just maintain a healthy weight but affects and reduces illness and diseases later on in life.
It’s easy to give in to those big puppy eyes, but if you want to keep your best friend fit and healthy don’t go down that rocky road of over indulgence this Christmas.