Did you know that the average person gains 10 pounds over the holiday season?
It’s a time for celebration and often that means yummy, yummy, yummy food. And often we are too busy getting ready for the holidays that we don’t make time for exercise. Add to that the fact that the days are short and getting colder, and we just don’t want to be as active as we were a couple of months ago. The simple equation is:
More calorie intake (yummy holiday food) + Less calorie burning (less exercise) = Weight gain
Our furry friends tend to follow our trends, too. Our indoor dogs that spend lots of time with us tend to sit on the couch when we sit on the couch, and play outside when we play outside. If we take a walk, they want to come too. If we make yummy food, we share yummy food. If we diet, we measure out our dog’s food, too. So it’s natural for our furry buddies to gain weight when we gain weight, and lose weight when we lose weight.
Another thing to remember is that the more active we are, the more energy we have and the more we crave activity. The converse is also true. The more couch time that we have, the more unlikely we will feel like going for a walk. The same is true for our furry friends. They say that it takes 3 weeks to form good habits, which means that those of us that have already gotten under the spell of cold weather inactivity will need to work hard for a few weeks to get back into good exercise habits.
The good news is that we do not have to wait for the weight gain to happen and the New Year to come along for change. We can avoid the weight gain from the start! And you and your furry friend will look awesome in your Christmas sweaters! This is a win/win!
So let’s sum up our strategies for keeping our pooches trim (I’m talking about pets🙂
- Get outside and take a walk! Or walk inside your home for a certain number of steps or a certain amount of time every day. (Get this approved by your doctor if you need to!) Five minutes of activity beats zero any day. If you run, try running with your puppy. If you can’t walk, sit on your favorite recliner and play fetch with your pooch inside the home. Make it work for you.
- Set manageable goals. If you don’t currently exercise, start with five or ten minutes a day and work up to thirty minutes a day. Keep goals that you can see yourself doing practically every day, as a habit.
- Measure your pet’s food. Keep track of what your pet eats. Like us, pets tend to eat more than they should if it tastes good. They look to us, their human caretakers, to notice when they are eating too much and to cut back when necessary. Some pets need not only limitations on how much they eat, but also a low-calorie diet to maintain weight. If you need help, talk to your veterinarian for guidelines specific to your furry loved one.
- Indoor cats need exercise and food limitations too. Most indoor cats do not need more than 1/2 cup per day of a regular dry diet. They also need time to run around and play. This can happen with a laser pointer, playing fetch with small pieces of paper, cat toys like plastic balls and bells, and other ways to keep them active.
- Spend time with your friend every day. Make the effort to spend 20-30 minutes a day playing with and exercising your pet. This will enrich their life and yours, too. 🙂