Tuesday, March 29, 2011
There really isn’t a single “best” way to feed every pet. It is important to make adjustments to your feeding regimen to fit the lifestyle that you and your pet lead, as well as taking into account any health needs that your pet might have.
Figuring out just the right amount of food to feed our pets can be a real challenge. While pet food packaging provides a detailed feeding guideline in most cases, it is important to realize that this really is just a suggestion, a place to start. Work with your vet to determine your pet’s ideal weight and body condition, and adjust the amount you feed up or down as needed to maintain this “ideal.” Puppies and kittens have higher energy requirements to support their rapid growth and development. Very young pets may need 2- 3 times the amount of food that an adult at the same weight would need.
Working dogs also have different requirements than normal adult dogs. It’s important to remember that a true working dog works or exercises multiple hours per day. Paying attention to lean body condition is especially important with working dogs. These dogs may benefit from a diet that is higher in protein and fat to provide them with the building blocks they need for strong, healthy muscles, and endurance for the work they do.
Cats with urinary tract problems may benefit from the addition of canned food to their feeding regimen. It is also best not to make too many changes with diet or environment for cats with chronic urinary tract problems, because changes can lead to stress that can trigger a relapse.
Dogs or cats that take insulin for diabetes need to eat regular meals at the time that they take their insulin. Free feeding does not work well for these special pets. Pets are individuals, just like us. Choosing the right food and feeding the proper portions will help keep your pet happy and healthy.
Question: I want to feed my dog (or cat) canned and dry food together. How much do I feed of each?
Answer: This is a great question and one that I hear quite frequently! It is important to take into account the calories that are coming from both the dry and the canned foods so that you do not overfeed. Most quality pet foods list the calorie information right on the package. Use the guideline to figure the number of calories your pet should consume each day, and then make sure that you feed the correct portion of dry and canned to make up the total calorie amount. For example, if your cat’s food has 400 calories per cup and you are supposed to feed ½ cup per day, this is equivalent to 200 calories. So, feed ¼ cup of dry food to make up 100 calories and then feed the correct portion of canned food to make up the other 100 calories.
Question: What is the best way to help my pet lose weight?
Answer: This is another great question. The obesity epidemic in our pet population rivals that in the human population, with about 2/3 of the pets in the U.S. being overweight or obese. Just like us, our pets will become overweight if they consume more calories than they burn off. And, extra weight is even more detrimental to the health and longevity of our pets than to us humans! Increasing activity (play or walks) is a great way for your pet to burn more calories. Replacing some treats with low calorie options such as carrots or celery will help reduce calories from snacks. Decreasing the feeding portion by 25% is a good start. Work with your veterinarian to monitor your pet’s weight loss and celebrate success. Studies done on weight loss programs for pets have shown that humans lose weight along with their pets during these programs, most likely due to the increased exercise!
Visit www.drs4pets.com to learn more about pet health, nutrition and safety.
Photo by Brian Snelson