Harsh winter can mean fat pets; doctors deliver advice

obese dog

Creative Commons Obese Canine from New Orleans by Mr TGT is licensed under CC 2.0.

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – As another brutal winter continues to drag out for much of the U.S., doctors from BluePearl Veterinary Partners specialty and emergency hospitals are offering some tips on how to help pudgy pets lose their winter weight.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 54 percent of America’s pets are overweight or obese; and winter certainly doesn’t help when it comes to encouraging pets to get the exercise they need.

“The most preferable and usually the first line of defense when it comes to obesity is prevention,” said Dr. Jennifer Welser, chief medical officer of BluePearl Veterinary Partners. “But if the winter conditions have prohibited your pet’s ability to exercise, we hope these tips will help.”

  • Try outfitting pets in sweaters or fleece when taking them outside to play. But remember, just like people, pets can develop frostbite, so make sure to limit the time they are outdoors. Heed any winter warnings for people and apply the same caution for pets.
  • When using deicers, make sure they are pet friendly, so they do not irritate a pet’s paw pads. Pet parents can also outfit their pets with booties, or they can try Musher’s Secret, a wax-like substance that acts as a protector for dogs’ paws.
  • If outdoor activities are out of the question, try playing tug of war or fetch inside with your pet to increase their aerobic activity.
  • Also, try using treats in moderation as an incentive to get pets to be more physically active.
  • Search the internet for a local indoor pet training facility. There may be a place that provides agility training or flyball in a heated facility.
  • When winter does come to an end, make sure to slowly work pets up to the exercise level they were used to, prior to winter. An out of shape dog can be much more prone to heat exhaustion, even if the temperature doesn’t seem that hot.
  • Check with your veterinarian to make sure you are feeding your pet proper portions of food, and avoid giving them people food.

“Most importantly, make sure you see your veterinarian regularly and consult with them about the best way for your pet to shed the extra pounds,” Welser added. “There may be an underlying medical condition, as not all weight conditions are a result of diet and exercise.”

About BluePearl Veterinary Partners
BluePearl Veterinary Partners employs 2,400 team members including more than 500 veterinarians. BluePearl hospitals offer referral-only, specialty care services and most offer 24-hour emergency care. BluePearl does not provide primary care. The company is one of the world’s principal providers of approved veterinary residency and internship programs. BluePearl also participates in clinical trials that investigate the effectiveness of new veterinary drugs and treatments, providing pet families access to cutting-edge medicine that is not yet commercially available. BluePearl is headquartered in Tampa, FL.