Dear Winter Molly,
It would seem to be intuitive that more food might be needed to keep our pets warm in the winter.
However, Dr. Ken Tudor points out that this may actually lead to a winter weight gain. Why might this be so?
Just like their human counterparts, colder weather may lead to cutting outdoor exercise short. Colder weather and shorter days also cause changes in hormone output leading to a lower metabolic rate and the conservation of calories. The tendency to overfeed a pet during the winter will lead to obesity and poor health.
In humans, we use a body mass index (BMI) to evaluate the fat to muscle ratio and to identify an over or underweight problem. Veterinarians use a scale called the Body Condition Score (BCS) in a similar fashion. Ask your veterinarian how your met measures up and how you can offer food appropriately.
You can also use this visual guideline to give you an idea of your pet’s BCS: