Maybe Fido is a finicky eater. Perhaps Fluffy is packing on the pounds. If you’re like most pet owners, you’ve dealt with at least one dog or cat with appetite or weight issues. In fact, veterinarians report that the question, “How much should I feed my pet?” is one of the most common at wellness visits. Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer – every pet’s dietary needs are different. For example, go by the feeding directions on the back of the kibble bag and you could end up with a fat cat in no time flat. Instead, consider these eight essential pet feeding tips.
1. Assess the situation.
Ask your veterinarian if your pet is too skinny or too fat. You can then make diet adjustments accordingly. For example, if you feed your cat one can of food a day and she is too fat, you could reduce the amount to three-quarters of a can.
2. Invest in nutrition.
Quality pet food costs a bit more, but the investment is well worth it in the long run. For best results, look for the words “nutritionally balanced” on the bag or can’s label. You can also ask your veterinarian for recommendations.
3. Take time to measure.
Don’t dump kibble into a bowl or pile wet food onto a plate. When you’re working to figure out exactly how much you need to feed your pet each day, you must us a measuring tool (cup, spoon or scale) to get the portion right.
4. Add moisture to cat food.
Many housecats fail to drink enough water. Help Fluffy get the moisture she needs by mixing her kibble with a little water or feeding her canned food. One 2010 U.K. study even suggests that cats who eat moistened diets are more active and weigh less.
5. Feed consistently.
This means preparing Fido’s food the same way every time and sticking to one formula. If you do need to make a switch, pay attention to the nutritional and caloric differences between brands.
6. Count treats.
Just as you must record every bite of cake or pilfered French fry when you’re watching your own weight, you need to consider the caloric content of dog and cat treats when you’re calculating your pet’s diet.
7. Consider exercise.
If your dog jogs with you every day, he may be getting more exercise than the average pup. If your cat spends all day on the bed, she may be getting less than average. Increase or reduce the amount of food you feed your pet accordingly.
8. Expect changes with age.
Just like humans, pets’ metabolisms slow down with age. This means you may need to feed Fido or Fluffy a little less each year or switch to a senior dog or cat food that contains less fat.
Keep in mind that every dog and cat is different. Your tiny terrier may have a faster metabolism than your retriever and therefor eat more than the larger dog. Your senior cat may be extraordinarily active, requiring more kibble than her younger companion. Consider the tips above and consult your veterinarian. Together, you can adjust your pet’s diet for optimal health.
Did you ever have to adjust your pet's diet? Share the story with us in the comments!