Some animals are grazers and foragers, others are hunters. The eating patterns are very different. Foragers should have food available at all times. In fact, not having food on demand is extremely bad for some grazers. If you have a bird, rabbit, guinea pig, chinchilla, hamster, mouse, or rat you should make species appropriate food available at all times.
If you have a little hunter, your pet's body is designed to digest larger meals, with longer breaks between feedings. Most dogs and cats should be fed 1-3 times a day. (1 feeding is appropriate for some pets with slower metabolisms, but a 24 hour stretch between meals can be too long for many pets.)
OK, OK, I know that a lot of you like the convenience of free feeding your dogs and cats, and a lot of us hate to think of our pets feeling hungry. But free feeding does have drawbacks, and meals have advantages.
- Pets that are free fed are more likely to be overweight.
- Fed meals are a great early indicator of health concerns when meals are skipped or unfinished.
- Fed meals allow food to be completely digested and gastric acid to replenish. A sufficient supply of digestive juices help food to be digested more effectively and helps to reduce and bad bacteria.
- Regularly fed meals can revive interest in food with finicky pets.
If you have been free feeding your dog or cat, and would like to transition to fed meals, it's not too tricky at all. You can start by picking up the food bowl for a few hours each day, and gradually increasing the amount of time food is not available. You can encourage your pet to eat when you serve their meals by adding a bit of an enticement like shredded chicken, canned food, or Ziwi Peak air dried raw food. Yum.
Posts made after 2/1/2013 written by Kelly. Most older articles written by Cathy. She accepts sole responsibility for typos and bad grammarisms.