2001-Fri May 25 18:40:08 EDT 2018
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
We pet lovers are so fortunate to have the variety of high-quality dog and cat foods that are available to us these days. Many of us barely have time to cook properly for ourselves, let alone our pets, so the option of healthful prepared food is one that we’ve embraced wholeheartedly. A little too wholeheartedly in one respect.
What am I talking about? Free feeding — the practice of just pouring dry food into a bowl, leaving it out for pets to nosh on at their leisure and refilling it when it starts to get low. I have to tell you: That’s a recipe for disaster in both dogs and cats.
Take dogs. Their ancestors were scavengers and never knew when or where their next meal would come from. When they got food, they binged (and then purged back at the den to feed their pups).
Our dogs today are still genetically programmed to eat as fast and as much as they can stomach when they belly up to the food bar. So can we expect them to switch off their hardwired habits and eat with moderation? I don't think so.
Cats have a history of being hunters. Hunting means being awake, moving and going in for the kill, all of which burns calories. That’s a far cry from the lifestyle of today’s pet cats.
These days, the only animal our cats love to listen for is the human family member in charge of opening the cupboard door and pouring out kibble or plopping some wet food into their dishes. Getting up from their beds to mosey over to the food bowl isn't the equivalent of hunting — it doesn’t constitute an appropriate amount of exercise, and it sure doesn’t consume many calories. Cats who have food available all the time don’t get satiated, and if they don't exercise, they don’t burn fat. That makes them prone to obesity and diabetes.
Our job, as their human caretakers, is to limit the amount of food our pets eat. How much your dog or cat needs depends on breed, life stage (puppy, kitten, adult, senior), activity level, whether he’s altered or intact, and his genetic predispositions. For instance, if your dog or cat is of a breed that’s prone to heart disease, you want to protect his health by not letting him become overweight or full-on obese.
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.