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Keep your pet in shape over the holidays

PHOTO: During the busy holidays, make time to get your dog out for some exercise. It’ll do your pooch — and you — good.  |  FELIX KAESTLE~AFP/GETTY

It’s time to talk about not putting on pounds over the holidays.

Not for you, silly. That’ll come later. Right now I am thinking about our pets.

It’s only natural that if we’re going overboard on holiday goodies we want our loved ones —  including our furry family members — to be able to do the same.

But as fun and festive as that seems, we know it’s not a great an idea for humans and it sure isn’t something we should be encouraging in our pets.

If we’re going to be good pet parents, we’ve got to resist going overboard on the treats during the holiday season, says Dr. Denise Petryk, a veterinarian with Trupanion. Especially when we know so many of our pets — some 50 percent, according to The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention — are overweight or obese. Those extra pounds lead to bad chronic conditions, as this chart shows.

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Here are some of Petryk’s recommendations when it comes to your pet’s weight:

  • Stop eyeballing meal serving. We overestimate what a proper serving is for ourselves, so it’s no surprise we do the same with our pets. Measure those servings.
  • Try homemade treats. Again, we know that our human meals have more calories when from a package. Same with our animals. Here’s a link to some recipes for  homemade cat and dog treats.
  • Add it in. If you are going to give your pet a treat, factor the calories into Fido or Fluffy’s daily caloric intake.
  • Exercise! It’s good for your pet, and for you. Get that dog out for a walk. Play catch with your cat (my cat loves this and for some reason we end up moving from room to room as the game progresses).

True, it’s hard to resist handing out more treats when looking into that upturned dog or cat’s face that’s looking so longingly for a treat. But you can — and should — do it for your pet’s sake.