How to Ward Off Holiday Weight Gain in Pets


A word about leftovers, especially turkey bones. Don't do it! The three days following a major holiday are replete with emergency dog surgeries to remove all varieties of bony fragments. Buy a chew toy instead.

Those almost-empty cocktail glasses that can wait until the morning to be put in the dishwasher are another holiday hazard. As you slumber, your kitties are canvassing the celebratory carnage — and they seem to be especially fond of sampling alcohol, which can be deadly to cats and dogs.

Be sure to also secure second helpings from counter-surfers. How many times must we be awakened by the sound of crashing crystal because our curious canines were scouring the premises for scraps? Candles, ribbons, table runners and other decorations can also be irresistible to pets —and almost impossible to pass without surgical intervention. Some dogs take clean-up duty way too seriously.

4. Cut Back on Kibble — and Amp Up the Exercise

Rule No. 4 for avoiding pet holiday weight gain is to reduce their regular food. You don’t need to necessarily count calories, but you do need to cut back.

My final tip for trimming excess holiday pounds from your pets is exercise. I know you'll be crazy-busy with guests and preparations, but nothing beats holiday stress like a brisk, half-hour walk. Make it your goal this holiday to walk your dog each day, regardless of the weather or other worries.

I know this sounds terribly common-sensical and unscientific. That's because it is. We don't need reams of research to understand that healthy holiday habits are something we should strive for, especially when it comes to our pets.

If you try these approaches, you’ll see that your pet will be healthier, happier and perhaps a bit lighter when the New Year begins. Besides, it will make your own resolutions that much easier.

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Dr. Ernie Ward's Holiday Feast for Dogs

For a gourmet holiday meal that’s both healthy and chop-licking delicious, consider whipping up this special, 200-calorie canine menu.


½ cup chopped spinach, 4 baby carrots and 6 apple cubes (½-inch each) — approximately 25 calories

Main Course

½ can Sockeye salmon (1.5 ounces) — approximately 65 calories

¼ cooked sweet potato — approximately 40 calories
½ cup green beans — approximately 8 calories


¼ cup canned pumpkin — approximately 20 calories

½ sheet plain graham crackers (2 cookies) — approximately 30 calories
½ teaspoon honey — approximately 12 calories

Pinch of cinnamon

This meal is for a 20- to 40-pound dog. Reduce or increase portion size accordingly.

Note: Keep in mind that if you feed your pet anything that strays from his regular diet — especially in large quantities — it may cause gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea. If your pet has a pre-existing medical condition or if he's on a hypoallergenic diet, you should not feed him any treats or new foods until you have discussed it with your veterinarian.

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