As winter continues on, pets’ waistlines can start to fill out. Lack of activity outdoors (lets face it, who wants to walk in negative 20 with 2 feet of snow?), shorter days leading to more sleeping, and a lower metabolism can all lead to weight gain in winter. There are ways to help prevent this however.
Cut back on their food. Starting when the weather turns colder and you know activity will start to drop, cut back on food intake about 10%. Decrease treats as well, and avoid the temptation to share holiday foods with your pets.
Increase activity indoors. If you have an area where your pet can play indoors, take advantage. Throw a ball down the hall or stairs and allow your pet to retrieve it. Use a laser pointer or cat toys on strings to encourage your pet to move around.
Use feeder toys or puzzle toys. Feeder toys increase your pet’s mental activity to help combat long days of boredom from not being able to go outside. The pet has to work and move around to get the food to come out, so they burn calories while eating. This also will take longer than eating from a dish, giving the pet something to do other than lay around.
Take advantage of the “good” days. On those days when it’s not as cold or slippery, try to take walks despite the fact it’s winter. Pet’s feet can get frostbite, so take short walks and watch for ice, snow, or salt getting in their feet. Use boots, sweaters, or jackets to help keep your pet warm. Even 10 minutes will be beneficial to your pet. Also, some dog parks are open year round. If your pet does well with other animals, the nice days are great ways to ease cabin fever and help burn some calories.
Hopefully by using these tips and tricks, your pet will not gain as much weight over the winter, and will be healthy and happy when spring finally rolls around!