Feeding Your Dog in the Autumn and Winter

Feeding Your Dog in the Autumn and Winter

Health & Safety

With autumn well on its way and the colder winter weather fast approaching, it's time to take a close look at your dog's diet because the chances are they are going to be a lot less active than they typically are during the spring and the summer months. With mornings being darker and the evenings drawing in, many pets don't get to go out and run around as they would when the weather is warmer and the the days are longer, which means your dog would need to be fed not only less food, but they might need to be put on a different type diet too.

Colder Temperatures can Affect your Dog's Weight

When the weather gets colder, many dog owners are not so keen to take their pets out for very long walks as they would in the spring and summer. If a dog gets less exercise, they won't use up as many calories and as a result they don't need to be fed the same volume of food. If fed you feed your pet exactly the same way as you do when the weather is warm, they run the risk of gaining too many extra pounds and this in turn, puts their health at risk.

Dogs Kept in Outdoor Kennels

However,dogs that live outdoors in kennels would need to be fed a diet that suits them too because if they get cold and start to shiver, this uses up a tremendous amount of calories. With this said just the fact the temperature outside has drooped can increase calorie expenditure. A dog with a good amount of fat deposit and a nice, thick coat, will stay warmer because they are naturally well insulated against the cold.

If you have a dog that lives in an outdoor kennel, you would need to up their food which will ensure they keep the weight on over the winter months and not lose condition through shivering or when they weather is that much colder. Research has shown that dogs living in outdoor kennels actually need anything from two to three times more food during the winter so they put on more fat.

The other thing that studies have showed is dogs living outdoors in kennels experience an altered metabolism which sees them using their fat deposits preferentially turning it into glucose. Therefore, they need to be a diet that is higher in fat during the colder winter months, so not only do they need to be fed more food but their diet would need to be higher in fat too.

How Shorter Days Affects a Dog's Weight

As previously mentioned, shorter days means dog owners have less daylight hours in which to exercise their pets during the week. It's perfectly normal not to enjoy a long walk in the dark and therefore people are reluctant to go out on winter mornings and nights with their pets. As a result, dogs use up less calories and therefore they need to be fed less food.

The Thrifty Gene Explained

However, shorter days impact a dog in other ways too, especially their metabolism. With the onset of winter, hormonal changes occur in a dog's brain and this slows their metabolism down which in turn conserves the way our canine friends use up their calorie intake. These changes in metabolism promote the amount of fat deposits which is a process that's a direct result of a genetic adaptation seen in dogs and other animals, and it's referred to as the "thrifty gene".

With this said, domestic dogs are put at a disadvantage because of this "thrifty gene" if fed the same amount of food over the colder winter months. It means they are far greater risk of putting on too much winter weight and this in turn can seriously impact their overall health.

How to Feed Your Dog Over the Winter Months

Animal nutritionists recommend that dogs be fed according to their body condition and level of fitness as well as how they are kept, whether it's indoors or in an outdoor kennel. If your dog's exercise routine is reduced at all, whether it's a lot or just a little, this needs to be reflected in the amount of food they are fed each day over the winter months.

If you notice your dog starts to gain weight, you need to reduce their daily calorie intake and if this still does not work, you might need to talk to your vet who could well recommend a reduced fat diet for your pet. Naturally, the amount you feed your dog over the colder months also depends on their age and if they are suffering from any sort of health condition. If this should be the case, you need to feed them a diet that's been recommended by the vet who is treating your dog.

You should never leave dry food out on a constant basis for your dog to help themselves to when they want, and this applies as much to the winter months as it does to the rest of the year. It is far better to feed dogs twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening preferably before they are taken out for their walks or let out into the garden especially last thing at night.



Pets for studWanted pets

Accessories & services


Knowledge hub


Support & safety portal
Pets for saleAll Pets for sale