Unless you appreciate the wet, windy, and just generally cold conditions that winter brings, you and your pooch might have found yourselves spending a little bit less time outside over the past few months, and a little bit more time inside, curled up, watching TV by the heater.
If that’s the case, chances are that your dog might have put on a little bit of weight over the winter period. While a few extra kilos can be attributed to natural fluctuations, which will probably sort themselves out over the coming months, if your pooch has put on a bit more than usual this season, follow Joel Barrett’s tips to help get them back in shape.
Remember to check any changes with a vet first, especially if it’s going to be one which disrupts your dog’s routine too much.
- Monitor their diet
You know that look your dog gives you when you have a tasty morsel of food on the end of your fork, and they think they might quite like it for themselves? Well, you’re going to have to ignore that face, at least until their weight is back under control. Similarly, you’re going to want to limit treats outside of meal times too, unless you’re currently in the middle of a vital training program.
It’s not just when they eat, but what they eat that counts too. Ask your vet about dog food designed to assist with weight loss. They will be able to suggest a diet that is both nutritious and delicious.
- Don’t let them wolf their food
Given the chance, dogs will eat very quickly and will eat until the bowl is empty. Oftentimes this provides them with way more food than they need. You could consider using a feeding device, such as a KONG, which releases food slowly, allowing them to slow down and smell the kibble. If they are still eating the same amount as they were from a bowl, that’s fine, the KONG will still have provided them with a stimulating brain game for your dog.
- More walks and exercise
It doesn’t matter how well you feed your dog, if their energy intake is still greater than their energy expenditure, they’re going to gain weight. Try walking your dog an extra time a day if possible. If not possible, try extending the existing walk a little bit, just until they’re back within their optimal weight range.
Walks are great for getting your dog out of the house and giving them a chance to see the neighbourhood, but also try increasing the time spent playing games with your pet. Playing fetch in the backyard or in a dog-friendly park is a great way to get your dog burning a lot of energy, quickly. This will help them lose that little bit of extra weight in no time at all.
- Include your dog in your plans
As the weather starts to improve and we start making more plans on weekends, why not consider bringing your dog along? It’ll help them get more exercise, while allowing you to make the most of your weekend. Obviously we aren’t talking about bringing them to someone else’s wedding, or tandem skydiving, but consider bushwalking or going to the beach with your pooch in tow. Just remember to make sure both of you take it easy, especially if you’ve had an inactive winter, and warm up to any more strenuous activities together over time.