Pets, just like humans, have different tastes, allergies, and sensitivities to foods, and your veterinarian can help you choose the best food for your dog or cat. However, when it comes to feeding your pet, you should think about more than what food you choose. Your pet’s age and lifestyle will help determine how often you should feed your dog or cat and how much. With the growing obesity epidemic in the US, it’s important to pay close attention to what our pets are eating on a daily basis and it all starts at the pet food bowl.
Here are a few tips for pet feeding, adapted from a list by Dr. Patty Khuly, DVM.
Things to Consider When Feeding Your Pet
- Choose a nutritionally balanced pet food. Be sure to check the ingredients on the label and try to avoid foods with fat listed within the first four ingredients. Speak with your veterinarian for suggestions of the best foods.
- Moisten your cat’s food. According to a 2010 study at the Waltham Center in the UK, cats on moistened diets (even if it’s just adding water to their kibble) tended to be more active and weighed less.
- Check for allergies or intolerance. If you recently brought home a new pet or are switching your pet’s current food, it is important to monitor them on their new diet to make sure they don’t have any allergies or tummy aches caused by the food.
- Measure your pet’s meals. Free-pouring or “eyeing” the amount of food you feed your pet can make a big difference over time. Be sure to use measuring cups or a scoop with marked measurements so that you can be consistent and ensure that you’re not overfeeding.
- Determine whether you are feeding the correct amount of food. At your next veterinary check-up, ask your vet if your dog or cat is too thin or too fat to ensure that you are feeding the proper amount.
- Be consistent. Frequently changing the brand or type of pet food can upset your pet’s tummy so it’s important to generally stick to the same food, prepared the same, each day. If you decide to change foods, it should be done gradually by mixing in small amounts with your pet’s current food.
- Watch the treat intake. Pet treats can be high in calories and quickly add up. Be sure to moderate the amount of treats given to your pet each day, and substitute treats for fruits like tomatoes instead.
- Take exercise into consideration. Did you recently start a new jogging routine with your dog? Are your kids spending more time playing with the cats? If your pet’s exercise habits have changed, it might also be time to adjust his food intake.
- Age is a factor. As your dog or cat gets older, his metabolism (and likely activity level) slow down. Be sure to take your pet’s age into consideration when choosing a food (is it time for a senior diet?) and the size of the scoop.
- All pets are different. Each pet has its own nutritional needs based on his individual age, breed, activity level, lifestyle, etc. so be sure to look at each pet as an individual when determining their food needs.