I've had my dog, Kilo, since December of 2012. He was a whole 8 weeks old and was literally a little, white fluff ball. Every winter, his activity levels decreased dramatically and he put on a decent amount of weight. I never really realized how heavy he'd become since I saw him every single day. He had elbow problems from a younger age and during physical activity, it wouldn't be long before he was limping. This all changed in the fall of 2014 when bringing Kilo into the vet clinic. They told me Kilo needed to lose some weight. He was sitting at about 95lbs and they wanted to see him around 80lbs. Now, Kilo is a big dog. By big I mean tall. He wasn't a straight pudge ball but after hearing it from the doctor, I realized what they meant. You couldn't easily feel his ribs on palpation and he didn't have an indent near his hips. As mentioned before, his limping was a problem during our walks or while playing fetch longer than ten minutes. So over the course of the next year and a half, I slowly cut down his food but his exercise stayed about the same. We'd walk maybe a couple times a week. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty lazy about it and looking back, felt like I was a shitty owner.

Now, Kilo is an 80lb, lean machine who hasn't limped in over a year. We can play frisbee until the cows come home, go on four mile walks, and he has zero limping. I've also introduced giving him two Cosequin DS chews every morning with his breakfast for joint health. He has also developed great muscle tone and our biggest goal this year was to not use winter as an excuse to gain "winter weight". We try to play 20 mins of frisbee at least 4-5 times a week unless it's TOO cold, which then we may do two sessions a day at 10 minutes a piece. Dogs have a specialized circulation system in their paws where the cold blood can return to the body from their venous system which in turn, brings warm blood back to their paws from their arterial system. I was taught this by a dog trainer we used to see who owned quite a few sled huskies. I am not saying it is okay to chain up your dog outside in freezing temperatures but taking them on a walk around the block will be great for their well-being. Keeping them active year round is not only important for their physical health, but mental health too! I know Kilo gets cabin fever if he doesn't go out for a day or two and gets incredibly anxious. Doing things like playing frisbee, playing with a flirt pole or just a game of fetch, can build a stronger owner/pet bond. All in all, don't be lazy, bundle up, and bring your dog outside!