6 Ways to Keep Your Pets Healthy During the Holidays and Beyond

As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, we humans naturally tend to stay inside more often, which can lead to Winer weight gain. But did you know the same thing can happen to our pets? It's not really much of a surprise, considering they don't want to be outside playing in the cold much more than we do, and they're probably perfectly content to curl up with us by the fire with a snack on a cold evening. This, though, means that more than 50 percent of pets in the US are overweight, according to the Association For Pet Obesity Prevention. And having an obese pet means spending more money at the vet because of declining health as a result.

So with all the Winter holidays around the corner — and lots of food and gifts laying around — we wanted to highlight some tips for keeping your pets healthy, not only during the holidays, but all year round. Keep reading for advice from Dr. Denise Petryk, an on-staff veterinarian at Trupanion, a pet medical insurance provider.

  • Consider treat intake — Factor your pet's treats into their daily food intake. The calories in pet treats really add up; they should only make up about 10 percent of your pet's caloric intake.
  • Know how many calories they should be eating — Talk to your vet about your pet's caloric needs and measure portions of food for your pet instead of free pouring.
  • Consider low-calorie snacks — Swap high-calorie treats with healthier options such as apples, carrots, bananas, or homemade treats. Not only do they provide nutrition, but they can also help your pet feel fuller without all the calories.
  • Exercise at mealtime — It can be incorporated into your pet's mealtime. Look for toys that make pets work and burn calories while eating.
  • Walk often — Take your pet for regular walks or set aside a few minutes every day for some extra playtime, despite the weather. If it's really cold or rainy outside, try getting your pet to move around the house as much as possible.
  • Keep their age in mind — A pet's size, age, activity level, spay/neuter status, and whether or not they are nursing will affect their daily calorie requirements. Older, neutered, or inactive pets typically require fewer calories, while nursing or working pets can require more.