Glass Pet Door's Blog
Post by: Kenzie on Mar 24th 2019
How to Help Your Pet Lose Their Winter Weight
Winter weight gain is as prevalent for our pets as it is for us. They do, after all, depend heavily on us to lead them in a healthy lifestyle. So if we've given in to lazy days and indulging in comfort food during the holidays, we're also prone to dwindling with our pet's activity and nutrition. No judgment here; it's easy to do! But now that the days are lengthening and the weather is warming you're likely making goals to lose some weight before summer fully arrives, and your pet may benefit from having the same goal. Here are some simple and effective ways you can help your pet lose some of their winter weight, brought to you by our pet door installation experts.
Get Some Exercise
The most direct approach to helping your pet lose some of their winter weight is, unsurprisingly, getting them back into the routine of daily exercise. Every pet needs some kind of physical activity each day to help work off excess calories, get their heart pumping, and keep them happy and agile. Dogs make excellent workout partners, so the two of you can get in better shape together as a team. You can take your pick of outdoor activities as the weather gets warmer, such as walking, running, cycling, hiking, swimming, etc. If the weather is still a bit too cold for you and your pup, you can get creative with modified indoor exercises. Prompt your pup to run up and down the stairs, play fetch, take a walk around the house, play tug of war with a sturdy toy, teach them a new trick, or you could introduce them to a doggy treadmill for a more fulfilling indoor walk. Cat owners, on the other hand, may have a harder time finding an activity their cat will enjoy doing. Experiment with different toys and activities to find something that they enjoy and helps them burn a few calories. If you have a younger cat, you can even train them to leash-walk outside with a harness or to walk on a pet treadmill.
Cut Back on Treats
If your pet has spent the winter season being spoiled with a lot of treats, it's time to cut back on them now that the holidays have come and gone. Regularly feeding your pet unhealthy treats and table scraps in addition to their normal meals will skyrocket their daily calorie intake, meaning quick weight gain the longer the habit continues. Cutting back on or eliminating these junky treats altogether from your pet's diet is an easy way to help them get back to a healthier weight. Or, you could simply replace these high-calorie treats with healthier, low-calorie, no-sugar versions with a lot of health benefits, and be sure to keep track of the additional calories they provide throughout the day.
Switch to Portion-Controlled Meals
In the midst of the busy holidays and dreary cold days, it's easy to switch to autopilot when it comes to your pet's meal plan, such as keeping the bowl full all day long to avoid frequent refills. But while it's certainly the easier option, this method will quickly end up being detrimental to your pet's health and weight. It's the same idea as feeding them frequent treats: more calories and less exercise means more weight gain. Cats and dogs, like us, can only begin to lose weight once their diet reflects that of an active lifestyle. If you've gotten into the tendency to turn your pet's bowl into an "all-day buffet", start reducing their daily calorie intake by switching to portion-controlled meals. Instead of guesstimating how much your pet will need to eat throughout the day, calculate how many calories they should be intaking and how much food that means should be available to them for each meal and use a measuring cup to get that exact amount when it comes time to feed them.
Adjust Their Food
It's equally important to note that your pet's diet should change with the seasons according to how much their activity increases or decreases. The more exercise they're getting, the more calories they should be consuming, and vice versa. As your pet begins to get more active with better weather conditions, adjust their food accordingly to keep them at a healthy balance. You could also consider personalizing their blend of food to their specific breed, or switching to a weight management formula that provides them with a higher amount of nutrients/fiber and a lower amount of calories.
Schedule a Veterinary Appointment
As a general rule, you should consider consulting your vet before making a major change to your pet's diet or exercise routine, but you should also pay them a visit if you have concerns about exactly why your pet has gained weight and/or isn't losing weight. Not all winter weight-related issues are caused by excess calories or a lack of exercise. Your pet could be gaining an unusual amount of weight due to medical conditions. This could include a chronic illness (ex. Cushing's disease, underactive thyroid), heart disease, pregnancy, liver failure, or internal parasites. While many of these cannot be detected by you at home, a trip to the veterinarian will tell you if your pet has any hidden points of concern that could be causing their weight gain/retention before it becomes a more dangerous health issue.
As anyone who struggles with weight loss can attest to, it's a difficult journey. It takes a lot of hard work, determination, and commitment to keep to your goals. The same will be true in your efforts to manage your pet's weight. It will require some time and a change of mindset from both of you, but don't let the challenging moments dissuade either of you. Helping your pet to live a healthier life will add precious years to their life, and it will allow them to live those years to the fullest of their potential. Do you have any questions? Contact Glass Pet Doors today to discuss installing the perfect pet door for sliding glass door for your pet, giving them access to more exercise and an easy way to lose more weight.