Obesity is one of the most common health problems in pets, and it can become worse in the winter months. Studies have shown that as many as 25% of dogs and 40% of cats in the U.S. are overweight. Pet owners tend to over feed their furry friends in the winter because they think they're burning more calories, but that's not always the case.
"If you normally feed your dog four cups of food in the summertime to keep them at a good weight, you probably only need to feed them, and this is off the top of my head, 4 1/4 cups," said WSU Community Practice Veterinarian Raelynn Farnsworth. "So it's not a huge amount more. People tend to give them a huge amount more and they actually gain weight in the winter because they're feeding them too much."
Other factors, such as having adequate bedding and shelter for outside pets, plenty of water and exercise, will keep pets healthy during the winter and will save you a trip to the vet for serious health problems.
"They can get things like frostbite for sure, on their ears and feet are the most common places but anywhere that's exposed," said Farnsworth. "They can become malnourished and dehydrated if their water bowls are frozen and if they aren't getting enough to keep nourished."
Veterinarians said each pet is unique and if its not practical to exercise outside, consider chasing pets around the house and using activity-related toys and obstacle courses to get pets moving.
Farnsworth said if you would like individualized tips for your pet, visit your local veterinarian.