Canine Column: Happy New Year!

treat-pile_2By Marti Benson

The last dollop of cheesy artichoke dip has been scooped up, the carton of egg nog is empty, and my husband and I have to wait another year for more of Aunt Peg’s homemade fudge.

Not only have the humans in our family devoured the last of the holiday goodies, our dogs have, too. As a pet sitter, my wonderful clients sweetly remember me—and our dogs—at the holidays. This year our Chip and Ernie have been gifted with an Advent Calendar (filled with salmon and sweet potato treats) from Trader Joe’s, a plate of dog-friendly peanut butter cookies, and boxes of multi-flavored Milk Bones. It’s safe to say that not only will my husband and I be cutting back on calories for the New Year—Chip and Ernie will be doing the same.

Finding the right low-calorie, but nutritious, treats for dogs is frustrating. Healthy snacks specifically formulated for our canine family members can be pricey. Whipping up something homemade is bewildering as what’s good for human consumption may be toxic to our furry family members. So what does an owner do to help Bear or Daisy stay trim without harming their health?

I consulted with Dr. Carol Steiner, a veterinarian at the Animal Clinic of Woodland Park, to find out what a dog owner can safely give their pets when they need to shed a few pounds. The dog—not the owner– that is. As the “mom” of two young and vivacious Golden Retrievers and a 14-year old Heeler (that keeps up admirably with his younger canine siblings), Dr. Steiner recommended simple, accessible and inexpensive choices. In addition to carrots and apple slices (with both the skin and seeds removed), Dr. Steiner also suggested broccoli and green beans.

Dr. Steiner even mentioned that her dogs are a fan of green peppers. Although these snacks are healthy, she says, they should still be given in small amounts to dogs that are not used to them in their diets. The consequence could be an upset stomach—not a desirable outcome when you and Coco are snuggled in a warm bed on a cold winter’s night. And, she adds, grapes, onions and raisins are a big no-no. A daily dose of exercise is, also, ideal for shedding a few holiday pounds.

So if Ginger’s stylish Christmas sweater or Duke’s new Bronco’s jersey is stretched a bit thin, it might be time for a walk around the block—or finding someone who can do that with them. Just like us, our pets feel better after a bit of a workout and some fresh air.

With the right treats and a healthy diet, help your dog off to a great start in 2020. Here’s a toast to our canine companions for all the unconditional love and support they give us every day. Wishing you and yours a very healthy and happy New Year!



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