The holiday season is actually something I need to train for. Starting in early October I make a conscious effort to run more, eat less and squeeze in an extra workout each week, because I know that as soon as November roles around I’ll wind up eating more. And it will get worse by the time Christmas and New Years arrive.
If you have a pet dog or cat they may not necessarily have the option of working out more, but they most certainly will eat more — just like their owners — during the holiday season.
Think I’m kidding? It’s estimated that 25% – 40% of our pet dogs and cats are overweight. Even moderately overweight dogs are more at risk for heart and liver problems, not to mention diabetes and osteoarthritis.
According to a study by the American Humane Society, ideal weight and form varies by breed, but there are some general guidelines you can follow:
– You should be able to feel your dog’s individual ribs when your hands are placed on the sides of the dog’s chest.
– The dog’s abdomen should be slightly higher when viewed from the side and it should have a slight hourglass shape at the waist when viewed from above.
– If you can’t feel the dog’s ribs, no waist is evident and the dog’s abdomen hangs down or even sweeps the floor – then you can rest assured that Fido has a weight problem.
Your vet can help you set up a realistic weight reduction program for your dog. And the program will based on the animal’s target weight and energy needs. However, a realistic goal for fat dogs is to lose 1% of bodyweight per week. For a 50 pound dog that’s about a half-pound per week.
That is easily accomplished just by scheduling an extra walk each day for your dog. And taking the dog for a WALK is different than just taking a stroll that lasts as long as it takes for the dog to take a crap. That is not what I’d call “exercise.” Better yet, if you yourself are on an exercise program that involves jogging or walking (which you should be) bring your dog along.
You — as the dog owner — need to be honest in your assessment of your dog. Especially during the holidays, just how much does the dog really eat every day? Are you and the kids sneaking the dog bits of turkey under the table? Does the dog’s exercise routine consist of waddling its fat ass from the couch to the food bowl while you all sit around watching the Andy Williams Christmas Special?
Remember, every little dog biscuit and leftover adds up to extra pounds. And it’s not easy when those puppy-dogs eyes are staring at you when you’re munching on pumpkin pie. Sure it’s tempting to give your dog some of that bountiful cornucopia of baked goods and sweets that pile up during the holidays, but you’re better off tasking Fido for a walk (along with a bi-weekly weigh at the vet clinic).