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Keeping Your Pet a Healthy Weight in the Winter

Published on: January 15, 2018  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

black lab running with a snowball

As the winter season approaches, it's important to make sure that your pet maintains a healthy weight. The cold weather often leads to overeating and less activity, not just for us but for our furry friends as well.

Excess weight is not a protective shield

When the weather turns cold, many of us tend to eat more without even realizing it. We seek comfort in warm, calorie-rich foods. Unfortunately, this habit can unknowingly lead to overfeeding our pets as well. The result? Undesirable weight gain for both of you. Even just a couple of extra pounds can pose serious health risks for most dogs and cats. Therefore, it is crucial to pay close attention to what and how much you're feeding your furry friend.

However, maintaining a healthy weight is only half the battle. It's tempting to stay indoors where it's warm and cozy during inclement weather. We curl up with a good book or watch a ball game while our beloved pets snuggle by our side. But this sedentary lifestyle can also be detrimental to their health.

Keep moving

To ensure your pet stays fit and trim during winter, get creative with their exercise routine. Teach your dog to fetch snowballs instead of tennis balls or train them to leap over rain puddles. Play fetch with them indoors, taking care not to break anything. Engaging puzzle toys can keep both dogs and cats mentally stimulated and occupied. Additionally, provide enticing chew toys or scratchers to prevent boredom and deter them from gnawing or clawing at furniture.

If you're an avid winter sports enthusiast and your dog is a suitable companion, consider strapping on your skis or snowshoes for some snowy exercise. However, keep in mind that your dog's bare feet are susceptible to cold-related dangers, such as frostbite. To protect their paws and provide better traction, invest in booties.

Doggie day care can be an excellent alternative if there's one available near you. Even if you don't require daytime dog-sitting, taking your pup for a full or half-day visit can benefit both of you. They'll have the opportunity to burn off pent-up energy, work their muscles, and make new furry friends. You might even make some new human friends as you interact with other pet parents dropping off or picking up their own pooches.

Cold feet can be uncomfortable, and the snow and wetness can dry out your dog's paw pads. Once you're back indoors and warmed up, give their feet a soothing foot massage with coconut oil or homemade dog-pad balm. This will not only be appreciated but will also provide moisturizing benefits. To save your sanity and keep your house or car clean, keep an old towel by the door to wipe off your pet's feet when they come inside. If your dog has long hair between their paw pads, consider trimming it to prevent the accumulation of irritating snow and ice balls.

Tips for cats

Now, let's talk about cats. Fortunately, it's relatively easier to keep them fit and trim during winter. Indoor-only cats don't experience significant changes from season to season, except for their view out the window. However, if your cat is accustomed to spending time outdoors, you may need to come up with a new plan. Most cats dislike getting wet or navigating through snow. Even a shallow layer of snow can hinder their movements entirely.

Wet and cold conditions may cause your cat to resist going outside, but when nature calls, they won't have much choice. Be prepared to let them back inside quickly. If you have a very stubborn cat or the weather is particularly unfavorable, a litter box can be the best solution. While it may not be your first choice or your cat's preference, remember that it's a temporary arrangement.

Bundle up

No matter the weather conditions, your dog will still need to go outside at some point, whether it's raining or snowing. So bundle up, leash them up, and venture out together. If it's freezing cold, make it a quick trip. Investing in a sweater or raincoat will provide your pooch with added comfort during longer walks or playtimes.

Remember, outerwear isn't just for small designer dogs with fashion-conscious owners. Dogs of any size with short hair are vulnerable to the cold, and even those with thicker coats can get chilly if they spend too much time outdoors. Unless your dog belongs to one of the few winter-tough breeds, consider browsing the apparel aisles at your favorite pet supply store to help them stay fit and trim this season.


Photo by Jared on Unsplash

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