5 Tips For Keeping Pounds Off Your Pets During the Holidays - PetFirst
Pet Care & Health

5 Tips For Keeping Pounds Off Your Pets During the Holidays

by MetLife Pet Insurance
4 years ago

Humans are not the only ones who struggle with winter weight gain.  While we enjoy holiday celebrations, many of us share these food-filled traditions with our furry friends.  And like us, our pets pay the price in added weight.

If you can’t resist sharing leftovers with those pleading puppy eyes, here are some sobering statistics that illustrate food does NOT equal love when it comes to overfeeding your pet:

Obesity poses many of the same health risks for dogs and cats as it does for humans. Obese or overweight pets are more likely to suffer from:

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Joint problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Heart issues
  • Shorter life expectancy

Here are some tips to help keep the pounds off your furry friends this season:

  1. Cut down on excess treats early in the season
    Cutting back on your pet’s regular treats early in the holiday season will:
  • Cut out extra calories
  • Help prevent begging behavior when holiday foods fill the tables and counter tops.

If you must feed treats, make sure you are feeding healthy treats and using them to entice your pet to keep moving and learning new things. And just like Fido’s human counterpart, he will ultimately find this preventative measure much less of a struggle than battling to lose the bulge later.

  1. Change up your dog’s exercise regimen

It may be too cold to go for that usual three-mile, daily jog around the neighborhood. However, that doesn’t mean your pooch’s exercise routine needs to take a winter hiatus.  Instead, try more frequent, shorter activities:

  • Go for frequent, short walks
    The holiday season is a great time to walk through town and check out the seasonal window displays, lights, trees, and decorations.
  • Go sledding or build a snowman
  • Play hide and seek after a fresh snowfall
    Many dogs love running and romping around in the snow.
  • Bring your pet outside with you as you do chores
    Oh what fun it is… to shovel, bring the recycling bin up to the curb, scrape the snow off the car, and other winter tasks.  Why not bring your four-legged pal with you.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Be aware of the temperature and consider whether your pet might need a coat and or booties to protect his paws.
  • Older dogs have more difficulty regulating their body temperature.
  • Make sure you are using paw-friendly ice-melt around pets.

If the weather makes outdoor activities impossible, try and stay active indoors by chasing your pup up and down the stairs or rolling his favorite ball across the room.

  1. Use a toy instead of a bowl

Instead of feeding your dog out of his regular dish, try using a food-dispensing toy.

Food dispensing toys have many benefits:

  • Adds variety to your dog’s regular feeding
  • Provides mental stimulation
  • Makes feeding fun
  • Slows down the fast eater
  • Promotes healthier digestion
  • Rewards your pet for being active
  • Challenges your dog
  • Help shed unwanted pounds or keep them off

Most pet stores sell food-dispensing puzzles.  They require your dog to figure out how to work them before releasing food.

This PetSafe dog toy doubles as a treat or kibble dispenser.  The dog has to roll it around to release the kibble.  This is a good option for medium to large dogs who need to watch their waistlines.

The IQ Treat Ball is a better choice for small to medium-sized dogs.  This kibble dispenser has adjustable feeding levels, making it easy to continually challenge your dog as he learns.

A kibble dispenser is a great way to reward your dog for being active and get him moving around for his food.

  1. Do not feed table scraps

Enlist the help of your entire family and guests when it comes to not feeding your pet table scraps.  Not only do these add pounds to your pet, but they can also cause more harm than good.

Why you should not feed table scraps:

  • Many human foods are too high in fat for your pet’s digestive system.
  • Fatty or oily foods can cause your dog upset stomach or far worse.
  • Several ingredients in human foods are toxic to dogs (onions, raisins, artificial sweeteners, grapes, chocolate, cooked bones, fruit pits, walnuts, and many more).
  • Feeding table scraps encourages begging.
  • Dogs who are repeatedly fed table scraps may refuse to eat dog food.
  1. Cut back on calories/modify your pet’s diet

The less activity your pet is doing, the fewer calories he is burning.  If you notice your pet gaining weight, talk to your vet. Ask if you should consider feeding a lower calorie food or adjusting the portion size during the winter months.  

Remember to make time for activity with your beloved pet this season.  It will go a long way toward a slimmer, healthier life together.

Guest Blogger: Lauren Lee

Diet and exercise are important ways to keep your pet healthy this holiday season. But if an accident or illness does occur, you can make sure that your pet is covered with PetFirst Pet Insurance. Get a quote today. 

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