It is not only humans that can pile on a few pounds at Christmas, the same can happen to our pets if we’re not careful with their diet. They’re not only in danger of putting on extra weight but may suffer with tummy upsets as a consequence of indulging in rich foods; they may even be poisoned by some common festive foods.
Research has found that 98% of dog owners give their pets’ inappropriate treats over Christmas, such as scraps of festive food including mince pies or Christmas pudding. Not only are these foods high in calories and fat, but they contain ingredients such as raisins, sultanas, currants, onions, and chocolate which are all poisonous to pets.
Some owners don’t realise how many calories are in human foods and how our pets may struggle to burn them off. For example, giving a medium-sized dog a full Christmas dinner (and, believe it or not, a lot of people do!) equates to them getting around two days worth of calories in a single meal – or roughly equivalent to us eating nearly three Christmas dinners in one go!
So, what should you do? Well, if you can’t help giving your pet a Christmas treat, just give them little pieces of turkey or lean meat but don’t overdo the amount, as any calories that can’t be burned off will be converted into fat and stored within the body. For a healthy option, lots of dogs love to chew on a raw carrot or cooked vegetable such as a green bean.
It is equally as important to make sure that pets still get sufficient daily exercise over the holiday period. Take your dog for its normal walks and, if they are used to it, get them to chase after a ball or after their favourite toy in the park. A brisk daily walk or run in the crisp winter air is also beneficial to your own weight and well-being, which means you will both benefit from the experience. Even playing indoor games such as tug-of-war, ‘catch’ or hide-and-seek can help to keep them fit and active even if the weather is to dreadful to go outside.
So, with a little forethought and common sense, you can reward your pet with some Christmas goodies but ensure it still keeps their weight down – just make sure the children and other members of the family are in agreement so no one secretly undoes all your good work by sneaking them a crafty morsel when you’re not looking!