As the air grows colder and the days get shorter, you may wonder if you need to change your pet’s diet

When home is where it’s perennially warm:

Your dog or cat lives indoors, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to change your pet’s diet during cooler months, as long as his or her activity level stays about the same. If your dog lives primarily outdoors, however, you may need to make minor adjustments.

Indoor dogs living in four-season areas:

Our furry friends who live predominantly indoors in cold, snowy areas depend on us for their daily dose of exercise. Since less exercise means fewer calories used,so feed less. The other option is to maintain the same activity level no matter what the weather, you may need to increase your furry friend’s food.

Dogs with outdoor residences in four-season locales:

If your dog lives outdoors almost exclusively during the cold winter months, you’ll have to change his diet. Like us, dogs (and cats) shiver to keep a consistent body temperature. But shivering uses a lot of energy (calories). So your dog may need two to three times their normal amount of calories during cold weather. The increase in calories leads to more fat accumulation and helps compensate for the calories lost to shivering.

It’s not only about the cold (and snow):

Cold temperatures aren’t the only environmental factor that affects our pets’ nutritional needs during late autumn and winter. A decrease in daylight triggers changes in our dogs’ metabolism, slowing it down to conserve energy and promoting fat accumulation to help protect dogs from the upcoming cold.

And then there are cats:

Indoor cats who get a consistent amount of activity from one season to the next don’t need more food during the winter. And like dogs, cats that spend a lot of time outside during cold weather will need more food to maintain a consistent body temperature without losing weight.

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