Unless you and your dog live in a perennially warm climate, Fall weather brings many changes – including your dog’s metabolism. We can adjust diets to accommodate these changes, by first understanding the reasons.
As we have fewer hours of daylight, metabolism slows down to conserve energy and fat stores increase. It’s survival mechanism.
Colder weather may make dogs feels energized to some extent but add some wind and/or gray skies and many dogs (and people) prefer to stay indoors. In turn, less exercise translates to fewer calories burned. You may be tempted to feed less when the dog gains too much weight. That works if you’re cutting back on treats only.
If your dog is eating a balanced diet to high NRC standards and you cut back, you’re also reducing nutrients. When we formulate for fewer calories, we’re careful to keep the diet balanced and consider the dog’s activity level and age. The latter is important because body composition changes with age. Even when a dog weighs the same as years ago, muscle mass can be less. Muscles burn more calories than fat does, so you can see the relevance of dietary formulation – especially when the dog’s metabolism has changed due to seasonal changes!
On the other hand, dogs that spend most of their time outdoors during colder weather may need more calories. The body always tries to maintain a specific heat level. In the absence of warm shelter, shivering is a way of doing that. The extra calories burned by shivering should be compensated by feeding more calories and/or a higher fat diet. Breed differences and activity levels impact seasonal changes as well. The heavy coated Husky working as sled dog can usually manage a very fatty diet without issue. A Miniature Schnauzer with the genetic predisposition for pancreatitis would need a vastly different approach even if s/he spent more time outdoors with an active family.