With the holidays looming and the temperatures dipping, it can be easy to settle into a lazy routine that lasts until spring. It feels good to get into hibernation mode as I like to call it – you indulge over the holidays and hunker down like a bear until the weather warms up again next year. I don’t know about you, but last I checked, I’m not a bear. My clients aren’t bears either - they are dogs and cats.
As much as I’d like to stay inside, warm and lazy, and pack on the holiday pounds this upcoming season, that is just not realistic when I have a dog or two to care for. Most dogs, even in their senior years, prefer a little daily exercise. Prefer isn’t the right word, more like, live for. Most dogs live for walks - all those fun smells in the neighborhood, the change of scenery, the cars, the squirrels, the passersby!
Dare we deprive our furry housemates of this need to get outdoors and exercise. Especially with statistics like this from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) – over half of all cats and dogs are overweight or obese in the United States. What? Yes, it is true according to a clinical survey the APOP conducted in 2016. Combined, that number equals over 92 million cats and dogs in the United States.
That is a lot of unhealthy pets.
According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in 2014, 70.2 percent of adult Americans were considered to be overweight or obese in the US.
That is a lot of unhealthy adults.
The good news is pets can help us to stay healthy, and vice versa.
Here are 3 easy ways to keep yourself and your pets healthy this season:
Lean meats, fish and vegetables are a welcome treat for your animals. Get rid of fattening, low-quality cat or dog treats. The next time you prepare a healthy meal for yourself, reserve some veggies like carrots or green beans for your pet to snack on or some bites of chicken or fish (check with a licensed veterinarian of course beforehand). Experiment with raw veggies or cooked – your animal might prefer one to the other.
Whether a human or a pet, portion control matters. Are you feeding your animal too much kibble? As your animals age, you might want to switch to a new kibble, choose a senior formula, or supplement with fresh food and kibble - experiment to see what balance works. If your animal is less active, then adjust the diet accordingly, thus less food. There are some fantastic books on Amazon regarding pet food and pet diets.
Doing any sort of movement, even if just a walk around your block, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or a half-mile stroll to the dog park instead of driving can have a positive impact on you and your pet’s health. It is daunting to think about being out in the cold, but just commit to small outings and before you know it you’ll be in a regular routine.
These are relatively easy ways to start to have an impact on your health and your pet’s health. Having a health-buddy whether a human, or a furry friend can help you stay committed. Eating less of the wrong things, more of the right things and getting a little more active can create a healthy routine that can make an impact on you and your pet.
Lifestyle changes can be hard but having a furry friend or two to endure them with you can make all the difference for them, and for you!