HOW TO KEEP YOUR DOG HEALTHY THIS HOLIDAY SEASON – By Dr. Jennifer Adolphe, PhD, RD, Senior Nutritionist, Petcurean
The holidays are fast approaching! As the weather cools, and we spend more time indoors, it’s pretty easy to indulge a little.
Preventing weight gain is key to keeping your dog happy and healthy. Studies show that when dogs become overweight, it puts them at a greater risk of joint disease, respiratory problems, and pancreatitis. Even a small weight gain can shave years off your dog’s lifespan.
To help keep your pet healthy this winter, and especially during all those holiday celebrations, here are a few tips:
1. Watch their weight: Weigh your dog regularly to monitor for changes in body weight. You can weigh your pet at home with a bathroom scale. Weigh yourself, then pick up your pet and weigh again. Subtract to calculate your dog’s weight. To determine if your pet is at an ideal weight, look for a proportioned, slightly hourglass body shape when viewed from above, a slight tummy tuck, and a thin covering of body fat over the ribs and spine. When running your hands along your pet’s body, you should be able to feel the ribs and hips without pressing hard. If you’re not sure, you can use a body score chart or speak with your veterinarian.
2. Don’t feed your dog from the table, especially rich holiday meals and desserts. This is the time of year for rich gravies, buttered mashed potatoes and indulgent desserts, but that is on your plate. All those added calories and extra fat could contribute to weight gain for your dog and also cause digestive upset.
3. Give them healthy dog treats. Dog treats can be a major culprit for excess calories. They’re often high in calories that your dog doesn’t need. Replace them with healthy treats, like carrots or green beans.
4. Keep up the exercise. When it gets cold outside, it’s tempting to skip those walks and trips to the dog park. For the good of your pet, please bundle up and keep their exercise levels constant to prevent unhealthy weight gain. If you end up needing to reduce activity levels for a time period, adjust the amount of food your dog receives.
5. Make sure your party guests know the rules. During the season of celebrating, guests visiting your home may want to treat your pup as well. Even though they are just trying to be friendly to your dog, make sure they understand why it’s important to respect your dog’s healthy diet.
6. Keep them hydrated. Even though it’s cold outside, dogs can dehydrate just as quickly in winter as summer. Although many dogs eat snow, it’s not an adequate substitute for fresh water. If your dog spends time outdoors in your yard, keep their water bowl full and make sure the water doesn’t freeze.
By following these tips to help manage your dog’s weight, you can ensure warmth and companionship for years to come.
Dr. Jennifer Adolphe graduated with her PhD in companion animal nutrition from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. She has a Master of Science degree in human nutrition and is a registered dietitian. She is currently the Senior Nutritionist at Petcurean Pet Nutrition, a Canadian, family-owned company committed to offering superior quality pet foods. For more information, visit www.petcurean.com