Better Stocking Stuffers: How to prevent weight gain over the holidays

Better Stocking Stuffers: How to prevent weight gain during the holidays


Nothing says “What a great holiday meal!” like pushing back from the dinner table and unbuckling your belt just so you can breathe again. And then it’s off to the couch for a three-hour food coma.

Ah, the holidays. Fortunately, for you, opposable thumbs make it possible to operate a treadmill to burn off the cookies and egg nog. Not so for your dog or cat. Pet obesity is a major health concern and can lead to very serious health problems: arthritis, diabetes, urinary tract infections and respiratory disease are just a few of the problems that can be caused by or worsened if your pet is overweight. Which is why it’s so important to follow feeding routines during the holidays, as hard as that may be, and to closely monitor your pet’s food intake during these joyous times.

The importance of following regular feeding routines.


 Dogs and cats tend to be creatures of habit and the first tradition to go out the window during the holidays for us humans is Routine. Your pets need to stay on track more than you may think. They don’t adjust well to sudden change and shifting schedules and may become anxious and nervous, which can affect their eating habits.

Make it a point to stick to regular feeding routines so they maintain proper weight and healthy digestion.  This means NO table scraps and limiting pet treats.   Pet treats contain a relatively large number of calories as a percentage of a dog or cat’s total daily calorie content.

Engaging family and friends in keeping to routines.


Don’t feel it’s all on you. After all, with carloads of family and friends around for support, you won’t be flying solo in monitoring your pets’ eating habits.

It’s important for family and friends to know you’re on a mission during the holidays, which is to ensure that your pets remain in good health and physically fit. Politely lay down ground rules for guests to follow:

  1. No table scraps
  2. No treats without asking first
  3. Encouraging a game of fetch is a great idea for burning calories. If you want to take it up a notch, write up a feeding schedule and pin it to the refrigerator so your routine is clear and there is no ambiguity about adhering to strict feeding times.

Choosing toys instead of edibles. 

Ah, yes, the age old question: what to get someone who already has everything?

There are plenty of choices out there for stocking stuffers that won’t pack on the pounds.

Instead of yummy treats, here are several fun and healthy alternatives.
  • Cat Teaser on a String. This is a consistent feline favorite! A number of companies make pretty feathery cat teasers in different colors and styles. Some have a feathery end, some have leather strings, and some have long fuzzy things that resemble a tail. They typically come with a long handle with a 3 to 4 ft. string with a playful tip consisting of feathers, fuzzy balls or tails on the ends.
  • Catnip Bubbles. A great treat for kittens and cats, and they come with a classic bubble blowing wand which gets you in on the game.
  • Rubber Ball. The ole bouncing rubber ball is still tops on the list. Dogs can’t resist. And best of all, it gives you a great excuse to interact with your canine in a bonding game of keep away or fetch. If your dog will have access to the ball when unsupervised, be sure to choose a ball made from indestructible materials that won’t break apart.
  • Laser Pointer. Truth be told, these are as much fun for us as they are for cats. If your cat loves to chase bugs and small objects, this is the one. Dogs like this game too!
  • Squeaky Toy. You need to have the personal temperament for this noisy gem, but it can bring hours of gnarring, slobbering fun for your favorite canine friend.

Keeping your pets healthy over the holidays is not as hard as you think, but you have to be committed, and it helps to have friends and family in your corner. So remember to engage the support of your family and friends, stick to feeding routines, and engage your pets in extra playtime to keep them healthy and fit not only during the holidays but all year round.

TIPS TO TAKE AWAY

  • There are plenty of choices out there for stocking stuffers that won’t pack on the pounds 
  • Keeping your pets healthy over the holidays is not as hard as you think, but you have to be committed, and it helps to have friends and family in your corner 
  • Make it a point to stick to regular feeding routines so they maintain proper weight and healthy digestion