DARIEN, Conn. — Ever gain a few pounds in winter? Less activity — with no cut in food — is why. And it's the same for your dog, says Cindy Blish, manager at The Pawprint Market in Darien.
Sometimes owners don't realize that inactive dogs need to eat less in the cold winter months, Blish said.
"They sit around, sleep in the day," she said. "You walk them just so they can do what they have to. You don't want to be out in the cold and ice, and they don't, either."
So it doesn't surprise her when, come spring, a customer will stop by the market to tell her their dog has gained 5 to 10 pounds.
"They come in after going to the vet and ask about putting them on a diet," Blish said. But your animal doesn't need "diet" food, just less food, she said.
The store carries supplies and food for dogs and cats — everything from freeze dried, to raw, canned and frozen raw and cooked, among many items.
"Dogs around here are not like Huskies running on a sled line. Most should actually get less [food] because they're not out doing anything in winter," Blish said. "In summer, you're walking, taking them to the park to play. In winter, it's dark and cold. There's ice and you're not doing it. They don't want to do it."
Blish dished about the best food for dogs.
"People come in and ask me that. Just like people, dogs have different likes. The best food for dogs and cats is what works for them."
"For me, the Mediterranean Diet is supposed to be good, but there's no way I'm going to do that. I don't like vegetables," she said.
Most people feed dry food to their dogs because of the convenience.
"Some add a little canned food to it, a spoonful to liven it up a little and change the flavor. The kibbles today have to be 100 percent adequate for the dogs to live on. That doesn't necessarily mean it's good," Blish said. "There are different qualities, just like with people food. The more you spend might be better. But some dogs are perfectly happy eating the same kibble for their entire lives. They don't care. Other dogs need a change after a year."
Customers sometimes tell her that their dog is not eating food he has always previously devoured. She tries to get to the bottom of the problem.
"We ask a lot of questions," Blish said. "We find out the breed and how old the dog is and what it weight. We ask how much they are feeding."
Sometimes the owner is over-feeding the dog. Growing dogs need more to eat, but then the amount tapers off as they grow, Blish said.
"And people think he doesn't like the food. But the dog is thinking, 'I'm full. I'm fat and full,' " she said.
For finicky dogs, Blish suggests adding warm water to release the food's aroma.
"Dogs go by smell and not taste. Or you can add a spoonful of canned food to the dish. Add warm water to make a gravy and toss the kibble to coat everything."
The store, which is owned by Jennifer Scott, is on the Boston Post Road. It is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Click here for the store's website and click here for the Facebook page.