The temptation to sample one more holiday cookie or drink one more glass of eggnog can be a struggle for most of us. Depending on which study is referenced, the average person will gain 1 to 8 pounds during the holiday season. The unfortunate consequence to people gaining weight can be weight gain for our pets as well.
While shopping, we find it hard to resist buying a special holiday treat for our dog or cat. A portion of the $45 billion pet industry relies on the marketing of toys and treats throughout the holidays. What we fail to realize is the number of calories, and the nutritional content of that treat.
Read the label: Is the single dog cookie decorated like a reindeer worth 100 calories for your dog? Or what about the cat treat, decorated to look like a mouse? How many calories will that add to your cat’s daily intake? Too many treats can be the reason for our pets gaining extra weight during the holidays.
If you invite family or friends to your home, ask your guests not to feed your pet. Watching an adorable face begging for a morsel of food is hard to resist. Friends or family will often offer table treats to your pet, sometimes when you are not looking. Food “accidently” dropped on the floor during a holiday party is often quickly gobbled up by the household pets.
Your veterinarian can help
Pet obesity is on the rise. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 45 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats are obese. To avoid unnecessary weight gain by your pet, know what your pet weighs at the beginning of the holiday season by visiting your veterinarian for an accurate weight. Seek nutritional guidance from your veterinarian concerning which food is appropriate for your cat or dog. If your pet is already at an unhealthy weight, your veterinarian will advise the course of action for weight loss for your pet. If there are no physical limitations, your veterinarian may also suggest an increase in physical activity for your pet.
A little exercise goes a long way
You will find taking a longer walk or more frequent walks with your dog is beneficial for both you and your pet. Retrieving a ball or flying disc as well as jogging with your dog is a great way to help burn additional calories. Some cats can sleep as much as 20 hours in a day, making their sole purpose in life to keep the couch from floating to the ceiling! Encouraging a cat to run and to play with toys will increase their physical activity. Some toys will encourage a cat to chase. You can try a toy mouse on the end of a wand, or a light beam designed for cats to help increase your cat’s physical activity. Include stairs in play time by carrying them down the steps, then encouraging them to climb back up while chasing a toy. Most of all, have fun with whatever activity you choose for your dog or cat.
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