Posted on November 10 2020
The cold winter months have been known to create a lot of disruptions, and this includes interfering with our exercise routine. And for dog owners and their pets, this means fewer activities and more cuddling near a fireplace. However, less workout time and more treats in winter can result in our pets gaining some weight. And that is because our dogs will be burning fewer calories than their intake.
Remember, carrying the extra weight can strain your dog's ligaments and joints. Overweight dogs are at risk of getting respiratory issues, especially when they start exercising again, come spring. Difficulty breathing and coughing make working out potentially dangerous and uncomfortable.
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay
So instead of shying away from the outdoors and replacing outdoor activities with long naps and cozy cuddles, why don't you try and help your dog burn more calories with the following tips? After all, trying to help your pet burn more calories come spring will be more challenging than preventing him from getting fat in the first place.
9 Ways to Prevent Your Pooch From Gaining Weight in Winter
1. Get Your Dog's Pre-Winter Health Report
Before the cold winter months start, you should take your pet to the vet and get a pre-winter health report. Remember, weight gain is not necessarily caused by overeating or lack of exercise. So make sure your vet confirms if your pooch has any underlying health issue that can affect him in winter or cause him to gain weight. You can also find out your dog's body weight and ask your vet for tips to help him maintain that weight throughout winter.
2. Monitor His Calorie Intake
Since you might lose the workout battle some days, it's crucial that you monitor your dog's caloric intake; this way, the lack of regular workout doesn't translate to extra weight. Remember, your dog's weight is determined by the number of calories burned versus the caloric intake. Therefore, if your dog becomes inactive in winter and still consumes the same amount of calories he was eating in summer, he will gain weight. Remember, even small-sized active dogs like Dachshunds or Toy Poodles become less active in winter too. So, you can either give them less caloric food or reduce the amount of food they consume per day, but make sure you prepare a weight management schedule for your dog.
3. Prepare a Weight Loss Schedule for Your Dog
The cold winter months bring different challenges to both pet owners and their dogs. And one of the main challenges is the need to cuddle indoors with your furry pal, which is dangerous to your dog's health. So you should prepare a unique weight loss schedule for your dog before the winter starts. A good weight loss schedule features a reliable workout routine and a healthy diet plan.
4. Track Your Dog's Progress
Monitoring your dog's weight throughout the cold winter months can help you determine if the diet plan and workout routine are working. And if you notice an increase or drop in weight, then it means your weight management program is not working correctly and should be adjusted. So, you can either change your dog's workout routine or calorie intake.
5. Play Games With Your Dog Indoors
Since playing outside is not an option, you can try and play some indoor games with your pooch the entire winter. You can try tug-or-war or even play fetch indoors. These games will keep him active and also help him burn the extra calories. You can also play hide-and-seek with your pooch to get him mentally engaged and active. Hiding his toy or treats all over the house can help you reinforce the "come" command and also tire him out.
If you live in an apartment building or multi-level house, you can run or walk up and down the stairs with your dog. You can also introduce your furry pal to dog treadmills. Treadmills can come in handy when it's snowing heavily outside. So you can start slow as your dog gets used to the treadmill and then increase the speed once he is comfortable with this equipment. But make sure your dog is on a leash the whole time and don't tether him to the machine.
6. Create an Indoor Agility Course
You can create a unique agility course using things like buckets, brooms, blankets, and chairs in the house for your dog to navigate and play. The agility course can be an excellent workout for the dog, plus you can take some short breaks between different obstacles for small exercises and obedience training. You can use treats and praises to entice him to join you and workout.
7. Exercise Your Dog's Mind
If you are stuck indoors, you can use the time to teach your dog some new tricks or give him new puzzle toys. You can teach him how to pick his toys after he is done playing and storing them. You can also teach him how to "back up" or "spin." These new tricks and commands can help stimulate his brain. Puzzle toys that hide treats are not only interactive and fun, but they can also help strengthen your dog's cognitive abilities.
8. You Can Take Your Dog Out for Short Walks
Instead of taking him for long evening walks, you can try numerous short walks throughout the day. But, make sure you are both dressed warmly before leaving the house. Running or walking through the snow can tire your dog and give him the needed workout. Don't forget to wipe your dog's entire body using a towel as soon as you get back home.
Image by Peter Ocvirk from Pixabay
9. Invite Him to Family Backyard Snow Games
If your dog loves playing in the snow, you can entice him to join the family for some snow games like sledding and snowball fighting. These games are fun and help keep your entire family, including the dog, happy and active. Plus, with everyone outside playing, your dog will have to join you for some games.
The thought of exercising in winter or taking the dogs out for their daily walks and runs can make anyone cringe. In fact, many people prefer hibernating and cuddling with their pets for three months. Unfortunately, hiding indoors might not be a good idea for our dogs, as fewer activities can result in them gaining some winter weight. Remember, helping him stay healthy in winter is easier than forcing him to lose weight later. So instead of allowing him to gain weight, you should try and keep him active the entire winter.