Does This Leash Make Me Look Fat?
Ah, the holiday season. Time to deck the halls and over-indulge. Here at Smiling dog, we’re no strangers to poor decisions that lead to winter bulge (or, some may say, cold-resistance), but, we know that our canine family doesn’t have the luxury of choice when it comes to their wellness. So, despite an innate desire to cozy up on the couch in a pair of sweatpants with a bowl of bonbons, we have developed routines that ensure our pups stay trim and healthy throughout the year. Here are our guiding principles.
Give (Food) Treats in Moderation. We are generous with treats when we’re training our puppies. It’s a great way to keep them motivated and reward their hard work. However, food treats are not the only way to make your furry pal’s day. You can also pat them, play with them, or give them your best high pitched “good dog!” praise. Save the food treats for special occasions only and don’t feel the need to feed your pup every home baked or gourmet purchased treat your well-meaning loved ones present.
Educate Guests on Food Rules. Speaking of those loved ones… many of our clients tell us that the most challenging part of keeping their pup’s diet on track is dealing with family/friends who want to feed them from the table or over-treat them. We’ve had the same struggle in our house, so we know it’s real. Holidays are particularly challenging simply because there are more hosting events where people may try to slip food to your pup. Our best advice is to immediately and politely inform guests that your pup does not eat people food and is on a set dining routine. Thank them for any treats they bring and assure them you’ll dole them out to Fido or Fidette for special rewards. If you have a particularly persistent relative who insists on trying to sneak food to your pet, consider a shock collar (for them, not your pup)!
Stay Active (Spoiler Alert: This is Easier with a Schedule). Let’s be honest. It’s really easy to shorten exercise time for ourselves and our pups during the holiday season. First, things get pretty busy for most people between Thanksgiving and January. Second, even if you live in a warmer climate, it is colder in these months. Indeed, in many parts of the country, it can get downright unbearable with snow and freezing temperatures. The best way to keep active, then, is to adhere to a schedule. If you’re already using a set routine for puppy play time, stick with it! It’s okay if you shorten the outside play due to inclement weather (your pup may love the snow or hate it, it varies), but be sure to give a few intervals per day of at least 20 minutes of fresh air and activity. Throw on some extra layers and join in on the fun. We haven’t met many dogs that don’t love to chase/catch snow balls, nor are there many owners who don’t get a laugh out of watching their dog’s face as the “ball” magically disperses.
Know Your Goal. Of course, in order to truly ensure your pup isn’t packing on stubborn pounds, you need to know what their ideal weight is. Your vet can help you with this.
Keep these tips in mind as you enjoy this holiday season and you and your pup will be jollier for it. Load up on chew toys and even doggie sweaters if you want to spoil your furry friend for making it on to the “nice” list. If you do end up letting things slide a bit, just be sure to get your pup back on track as soon as you can and/or talk with your vet about weight management options. Got it? Great — now pass the pecan pie!