Beware the Winter Weight Gain
While you may want to consider giving your healthy weight animal companion a little extra food and treats in the winter to help compensate for the extra calories needed to keep warm in cold weather, be careful not to overindulge your animal during the winter months when their body is already in hibernation mode, they may be getting less exercise, and their metabolism is slower. Animals need to maintain the appropriate weight in order to stay healthy, but it is all too easy to pack on the pounds through the winter, which can lead to significant health problems. Read on for some tips to keep your animal lean and healthy no matter the weather.
Due to the scarcity of food in the winter months, animals (and people) have evolved to hold on to fat stores as the temperatures drop. We move less, sleep more, and burn fewer calories. While our animal companions typically no longer need to worry about food scarcity, their bodies continue to react the same way to cold temperatures. This means that winter is a prime time for weight gain.
If your animal is already overweight, consult with your veterinarian to determine a weight loss plan, but hold off on starting it until the spring. Through the winter, you will want to be diligent about maintaining your animal’s current weight, without allowing him to gain, to help keep them warm. Typically, eliminating treats but maintaining, or just slightly lowering, the amount of food you offer while ensuring that your animal gets enough exercise will be the way to go. But always check with your veterinarian to make sure there isn’t some underlying problem causing your animal’s weight issues and to determine the best course of action for your particular animal (petmd.com).
If your animal is already at a healthy weight, avoid winter weight gain by creating and sticking to a regular exercise plan. Fitting exercise in during cold weather can be harder than it is in the warmer months, but there are lots of ways to exercise your animal indoors that will keep them lean and having fun. Play fetch, have them chase a laser light, or climb around a new area are just some of the ways your animal can have indoor fun while exercising. Also, be sure they don’t get into any leftovers or desserts that may be hanging around. Not only can these pack on the pounds, but some of it may be toxic to animals.
Keep an eye on your animal’s physique to make sure they're not gaining weight this winter so that they’ll be healthy, happy, and ready to play outside when the weather warms up again.