Is there really anything better than coming in from shovelling snow and having a nice hot chocolate? Sometimes when we’re out in the cold, it’s nice to have a little treat or snack. If we spend a lot of time outdoors, we may even find our appetite is greater.
Do dogs feel the same? The short answer is “yes.” Here’s how to adjust your dog’s diet for winter.
How Can Cold Temperatures Affect Your Dog’s Weight?
Cold weather affects us all differently. It might change your mood, or it can change your habits. Adjusting to the cold can be difficult. Remember that change is difficult for you, but it’s also difficult for your dog. A lot of the responsibility for your dog’s weight is on you, the owner. You are the one who plans their meals. It’s your job to remember to check in with your dog. How are they feeling? How are they looking? What’s the quality of their eyes, fur, teeth and nails?
Cold weather can impact us all in different ways. With the changes that winter can bring, be sure to keep an eye on your dog’s weight and health to make sure they are getting everything they need.
When days are shorter, pets and owners may be less motivated to get outdoors. Who wants to come home from a long day of work, get bundled up, and take the dog out for a freezing walk? While the days are shorter, people and dogs alike are usually getting less exercise overall. Because you and your dog may be not exercising as much, you are not burning as many calories as you used to.
Along with less exercise, your dog’s metabolism will also slow down during the winter. As the days shrink and nights grow, your dog’s body naturally knows that winter is coming. To protect them during the winter months, their body actually slows down their metabolism. This means that they will burn fewer calories than they would during the summer when hunting would be plentiful.
Not only that, but your dog’s body will switch to burning more fat than glucose. The fats your dog consumes will be burned first along with fat already present on their body if they are not eating.
How To Adjust Your Dog’s Diet for Winter
There are two changes you can make to your dog’s diet during winter: quantity and type of food. During the winter, if your dog is not burning as many calories, they don’t need to take in as many calories to maintain a healthy weight. If you know your dog is not as active, try cutting back on their food a bit. This can help support your dog’s naturally healthy weight. However, if they spend lots of time outdoors and exercising, you may need to increase their intake.
You can also consider changing the kind of food you give your dog. During the winter, your dog’s body will transition to burning more fat. This is especially the case if your dog spends most of its time outdoors. Consider getting a dog food that has a slightly higher fat content. Or you can even get some healthy, lean meat for your dog and add that to their food. The natural fat content of this meat can be a nice boost in the winter.
What to Watch Out For
When you can’t get outside, you might be inclined to give your dog chewy treats. This is a fine way to occupy your dog for a short while. Just make sure you are not going overboard with treats. These can add to your dog’s waistline if you’re not careful.
During the winter, you might also consider giving your dog some supplements as well. A young pup might not need these as much, but an older dog will probably fair the cold weather a bit better if you give them a little extra boost. Supplements to consider may include:
- Joint Health Supplements
- Immune Support Supplements
- Probiotics Supplements
Remember that a dog’s stomach can be sensitive. Before adding or changing anything to your dog’s diet, be sure to consult with your vet. When you do decide to make changes, start slow. Even adding a bit of cooked pumpkin with no additives to your dog’s food can help ease changes in their diet and settle their belly.