A healthy and balanced diet is essential for a healthy and happy pet. Not only will it provide your pet with enough energy for his day-to-day activities, but it is also vital for proper brain function. An adequate diet is also particularly important for animals in the early stages of their development.
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to feeding your pet is to feed them by ‘life-stage’. Different animals, and in particular cats and dogs, require different nutrition at different stages of their lives. For example, puppies around 12 weeks of age will require around 3 meals a day and it is not until they reach around 6 months of age that this amount should be reduced. That said, your animal may prefer smaller and more frequent meals. The key to feeding your pet properly is understanding what works best for them.
Methods of Feeding
A popular method of feeding is known as ‘free-feeding’. This is where a bowl of food is left out so that a pet can eat as much or as little and as frequently as they prefer. This works best for dry foods since they do not spoil as quickly as the wet variety. Some studies show that this method results in over-eating and subsequent pet obesity. However, it may be the best option for you if you cannot stick to a feeding schedule.
Scheduled portioned feeding requires a strict routine that you need to be able to guarantee to stick to. Your pet will know when meal times are and ensure that they are ready for them, with cats coming indoors specifically at these times. This method limits the amount that your pet eats either by portion size or by time as some pet owners prefer to give their animals a specific time frame in which they must eat. This method also works well if you have pets that require medication to be mixed with their food, or have an animal on a calorie-controlled diet.
If you are unsure which method is right for your pet, consult with your veterinarian who will be more than happy to provide advice.
General Feeding Advice
Do NOT offer home-cooked meals. These may not meet the complex nutritional needs of your pet. Instead, stick to especially formulated pet foods.
The first ingredient listed in any dog food should be a specified meat. If the first ingredient listed is wheat, corn, meat by-product, or bone meal, then this dog food should be avoided. Dogs’ teeth are primarily made up of canines that are designed for shredding meat, not grinding grains.
Additionally, dogs should be kept on the same brand and type of food as much as possible. Changing their food too often could cause them to have an upset stomach. If you do have to change, be sure to introduce the new food gradually by mixing the new with the old over a period of time so that your dog's digestive system has a chance to adjust.
To cats, the odor of their food is particularly important as is the temperature of their food, which they prefer to be around body temperature when they consume it. Glass or ceramic bowls do not absorb externals odors and are the best choice for feeding. They also like to be able to see their surroundings when they eat and not backed into a corner.
Cats naturally prefer grazing on small meals, so dry food free-feeding is often the most popular choice for mealtimes. Protein and fats are the most palatable types of food for cats and they much prefer the texture of meat to anything else.
Rabbits need at least one bunny-sized bundle of hay every day. Accompany this with a handful of washed leafy green vegetables or herbs such as kale, lettuce, broccoli, sage, or mint. Try and offer variety to ensure your rabbit gets a good mix of nutrients.
When choosing pellets, opting for good quality is important. As a general rule, you should feed your rabbit one eggcup of pellets per kg of your rabbit's weight. For example, if your rabbit weighs 1kg then you should only give them one eggcup of pellets every day.
Lawnmower clippings are NOT safe for your rabbit to eat and do not give your rabbit muesli!
Treats for rabbits should be infrequent and limited to carrots and apples.