After the heat of summer, it’s always nice to enjoy the cooler weather of fall. But because we’re in Cincinnati, it doesn’t take long for that initial cool to transition into temperatures that are downright chilly. When this happens, we all start wearing warmer clothes. Another common change is that it gets harder to spend much time outside.
While dog owners still get out to give their companion bathroom breaks, things like going to play in the park aren’t nearly as appealing. Helping keep their dogs active is one of the many reasons that owners bring their dogs to our daycare during the winter.
With all of these seasonal shifts, dog owners often wonder if they should make any changes to their pet’s feeding routine. To answer that question, we want to take a quick look at pet nutrition, followed by highlighting the best feeding approach to take throughout fall and winter:
5 Reasons Proper Dog Nutrition is So Essential
Daily nutrition has a direct impact on a dog’s quality of life. Getting the right amount of calories, along with the right mix of nutrients, will ensure your dog feels and looks it best. Hair and skin health, immunity and preventing diseases, body condition, muscle tone, along with digestion and elimination are all reasons that optimal dog nutrition should be a priority throughout the year.
Understanding the Impact of Fall and Winter on a Dog’s Food Needs
As we mentioned at the start of this post, it’s fairly common for dogs to get less exercise during the colder months of the year. Even if the amount is only slightly less, the cumulative impact over several months can be meaningful. When dogs are burning less calories each day, they don’t need to consume as many.
Another change that occurs during the transition from fall to winter is the presence of less daylight will reduce a dog’s metabolism. By slowing down their metabolism through what’s referred to as the thrifty gene, dogs will conserve their calorie expenditure. However, for an indoor dog, that genetic adaption can work against them and cause weight gain if they continue eating the same amount of food.
So, what’s the verdict on fall and winter feeding? If your dog spends most of its time indoors, you will want to reduce feeding by at least 10%. You can monitor your dog’s weight and reduce slightly more if needed. Just be sure that you use a nutritionally complete dog food so that your dog doesn’t miss out on any essential nutrients.
On the other hand, if your dog is outside most of the time, you will need to increase daily calories to prevent weight loss. While the increase for an outdoor dog may ultimately be by two to three times during winter, you can start with gradual increases and monitor how your dog responds.