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Nutrition and Feeding Your Pet

 
Nutrition and Feeding Your Pet

Most commercial pet foods (those purchased in pet stores, not the brands sold in supermarkets) are good. They can vary significantly in nutritional value, however, so if you have questions please consult your vet.

  - Don't feed your pet table scraps. "People food" is not formulated to meet the nutritional needs of your pet...and it's often too greasy or rich. This can cause your pet to become overweight - and with it, develop health problems related to obesity. Your pet may also refuse to eat regular pet food once he or she has developed a taste for human food.

  - Limit the treats. Treats are often salty and fatty, and once again, they can make your pet fat.

  - Homemade diets are not recommended. It's hard to provide all the nutritional requirements for your pet; it's better to leave that up to the big pet food companies who expend huge sums of money researching this very thing. Homemade diets are also hard to provide for pets who may be kenneled from time to time.

  - Do not feed cat food to your dog, or dog food to your cat. Cats and dogs have very different nutritional requirements. Your dog most likely loves cat food, so try to keep kitty's food out of his reach.

  - Don't feed bones to your pet. Bones can potentially cause serious problems such as intestinal blockages, internal punctures, choking, vomiting, and so on.

  - Dry food or kibble is best. It's nutritionally balanced, the least expensive and most convenient food, and it helps to keep teeth and gums healthy. If you have a finicky eater, you can mix a small amount with your pet's dry food to make it more appealing.

  - Feed kittens and puppies food that is specifically formulated for their needs. Growing animals have special needs.

  - Resist "free-feeding". All this means is leaving food out for your pet all time, leaving it up to them when they want to eat. This method may encourage overeating and obesity in your pet.

  - Set a feeding schedule. Kittens and puppies should be fed several times a day, with the number of meals decreasing as they get older. Adults need only be fed once or twice a day. Establish a schedule and stick to it.

  - Use feeding guides as just that: a GUIDE, and not a rule. Pet food bags and cans often recommend that you feed your pet a certain amount of food per day. This is only a guide; adjust the amount you feed your pet by watching him carefully. If he gains weight, decrease the amount you feed. If he's always hungry, carefully increase his food intake a little, being sure not to overfeed.

  - If you need to change your pet's diet, do so gradually. Sudden diet changes can cause diarrhea. Change your pet's diet over several days. For example, mix 3 parts of your pet's regular food with 1 part of the new food. The next day, split it half and half. On the third day you can feed 3/4 new food and only 1/4 old food. And finally, you switch your pet to eating all new food.

  - Always provide fresh water. Leave the water out so that your pet may drink whenever he or she likes.

  - Consult your vet if your pet has special needs. Some pets require "senior's" food; others a low-calorie diet; still others are allergic to certain foods. Your vet will be able to advise you on what food may be best for your pet.  

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