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It is not uncommon for pets — like humans — to struggle with winter weight gain. Whether the struggle is in preventing it, or losing the weight after the fact, seasonal weight gain can be a problem. Here are five things to help your pet.
1. Monitor Your Pet
If you are concerned about your pet gaining weight during the winter, schedule a visit with your veterinarian before the start of the winter season. Your doctor will record your pet’s weight so that it can be gauged with any further gains or losses.
2. Create a Weight Loss Plan
Often this will include a combination of dietary changes and exercise routines. If your pet is already overweight, a bit more work is going to be required, since you will most likely need to maintain the current weight, even as it is over the ideal.
3. Consult Your Veterinarian
Before embarking on any exercise plan (or weight loss plan) it is important to have your pet checked for underlying conditions that may contribute to health issues — even weight gain. Only then can you and your veterinarian construct a sensible diet and structured, achievement oriented exercise program.
4. Use Treats Sparingly (or Not At All)
Many veterinarians will recommend cutting out treats from a pet's diet entirely during the winter, especially if the pet is overweight. However, if your vet doesn't think treats will negatively impact a weight loss plan there is a good reason. You may be able to use healthy treats as an effective way to entice your pet to exercise and burn excess pounds. Of course, treats should be used sparingly and for only a short period until your pet learns to exercise without a food-based reward.
5. Play Prevent Defense
Cutting back on calories and maintaining a regular exercise routine to compensate for the lowered physical and metabolic activity may be difficult during the winter, but it's also the best way for your pet to stay in shape. If it's already too late for that — well, then you have steps 1-4 to get you back on the right track again.