During wintertime, it’s essential to adapt our routines to ensure our pets remain healthy and active despite the frequently frigid weather. While busy schedules and chilly temperatures may make it tempting to skip outdoor activities, keeping our furry friends engaged and moving is crucial for their well-being.

Still, obesity affects more than half of dogs and cats in the U.S. Excess body weight increases the risk for several health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. A lifespan study showed that overweight dogs lived two years less than dogs with a healthy weight. If cold weather has made it harder for you and your pet to stick with healthy habits, read on for tips on how to help your dog lose weight.

Regular exercise is key to maintaining your pet’s health, both physically and mentally. Benefits of regular activity include improved overall health, weight control, reduced unwanted behaviors, stronger muscles, and an enhanced bond between you and your pet.

Throughout the winter – and even with lingering cold in the early spring – try out these fun and interactive ways to keep your pet active (or help your dog lose weight):

  • Fetch: Engage your dog with a game of fetch using different types of toys.
  • Hide and seek: Hide treats around the house to provide mental stimulation for your pet.
  • Food puzzles: Challenge your pet’s mind by using food puzzles that require them to work for their meals.
  • Clicker training: Use a clicker to train your pet and modify their behavior positively.
  • Plain-old walking: Bundle up and take your dog for a brisk walk if the temperature will allow. Start out quickly, and only allow pausing and sniffing on the return route. Consider booties to protect your dog’s feet from the snow.

As the ground thaws and spring progresses, you can gradually reintroduce more activities to your pet’s routine. The more active your pet is during the winter, the easier it will be to resume regular activities in the spring, helping your dog stay healthy or lose weight if they still need to shed a few pounds.

Consult with your veterinarian for advice on appropriate diet modifications and exercise regimens to keep your pet healthy and active throughout the year. Our Small Animal Nutrition team can also work with you to create an individualized diet plan tailored to your pet’s specific needs, promoting optimal health and weight management. If you would like further advice on how to help your dog lose weight or pursue better overall health, contact our Small Animal Nutrition service.

With proper care and attention, you and your furry companion can enjoy every season to the fullest.