Furry friends simply make life more enjoyable with their boundless energy and loving demeanor. Whether you have a dog or cat, you know that your job is to keep them well fed and comfortable.
The food you provide to your pet is one of the most important parts of keeping them healthy. Yet, pet food can also be one of the biggest expenses pet owners face over time. While you naturally want to keep your pet’s food costs reasonable, you also want to make sure that they have a balanced diet.
As you prepare your pet care plan, use this information to make sure you feed your favorite furry friend a nutritious diet that will keep their energy levels high and their body nourished.
Understand the Importance of Value
New pet owners often wonder if they should focus on cost vs. value when they are evaluating a new type of food.
While it is tempting to go for an inexpensive food for a pet that eats large amounts, it is important to realize that cheaper food usually contains more filler ingredients that provide no nutrition. This leads to your pet being satisfied for shorter periods of time after meals, which means they will likely begin to supplement by eating more.
Over time, this need to eat more food can actually cost you more in the long run than if you had bought a more expensive food that provides value to your pet through the use of quality ingredients.
Know the Nutritional Needs of Your Pet
Puppies have different nutritional needs than adult dogs, and senior dogs also require a different mixture of vitamins of minerals to promote better health. For this reason, you must be prepared to change your pet’s diet as they age. This also applies to cats and other types of furry friends.
Always consult with your vet regarding your pet’s dietary requirements at every exam to ensure that you are giving your pet what they need to grow and age properly. This is especially important during the weaning process when a puppy may still be getting some nutrients from milk along with their first tastes of food.
Learn How Much to Feed Your Pet
The amount you feed your dog or cat will depend upon multiple factors that include their breed, age, size and energy level. Typically, high energy animals require more food to replace the calories they burn romping around. Calm animals such as lap dogs will require less food since their calorie expenditure is low.
You should also be aware that animals may need more food during extreme weather conditions since they use more energy to keep warm or cool. Therefore, you should always offer a little more food after your dog has been outdoors in the heat or cold.
Create a Feeding Schedule
There is a lot of controversy regarding the proper way to feed pets. While some pet owners prefer to feed their pets multiple times a day, others prefer to feed them on demand. As with the other aspects of feeding, your choice will depend upon your pet’s needs as well as your lifestyle and the type of food you choose.
For example, free choice feeding is one option in which you leave food out all the time for your pet to eat when they choose. This style works well for nursing mothers and if you serve dry food since it does not spoil. However, timed feedings where you place food in the bowl and remove it after a certain amount of time has passed if you serve wet or homemade food that contains meat.
Recognize the Importance of Proper Portions
Since pets can become overweight, it is important to talk to your vet about the proper serving sizes for regular meals and snacks. Those puppy treats can also add up to a lot of fat and calories if they are given in excessive amounts.
Underfeeding your dog can lead to slow growth and delayed development, and some dogs will not beg for food. This makes it especially important to work with a professional in pet care to find out how much to feed your pet throughout the day.
Know How to Make Your Own Pet Food
Today, many people are opting for homemade pet food to avoid unnecessary filler ingredients that tend to be used in commercial preparations. While it is difficult for a beginner to prepare food that meets all of their pet’s dietary requirements, it is possible to make quality food for your pet.
Although pet food recipes are abundant online, you will want to make sure to only use ones that are created by a professional who understands the nutrition guidelines that are established for pets. For example, dog should not eat certain foods, and using a recipe designed for humans may lead to them ingesting a poisonous ingredient while also consuming too much fat or not enough protein.
Follow Safe Food Preparation Practices
If you do decide to make your own pet food, follow the recipe carefully since it was designed to keep your pet healthy. Also, avoid changing ingredients due to the risk for serving your pet an unsafe food.
Finally, follow the same food safety strategies that you would use when cooking with your family. Make sure to cook all food completely so that you reduce the risk of your dog contracting a food-borne illness. Once the recipe has been prepared, serve it immediately. If you made multiple servings, then store it as you would human food by keeping it at the proper temperature in an airtight container.
Watch for Special Considerations Regarding Pet Food Decisions
Like humans, every pet is unique, and it is common to have an animal that requires special dietary considerations. For example, your pet may have an allergy to grains that requires special dog food. Alternatively, a dog that is overweight will require you to follow a strict diet and offer praise instead of treats for good behavior. After surgery, your pet’s vet may recommend a special diet to encourage healing as they recover.
The dynamic nature of your pet’s diet means that you will need to evaluate it as they move through the different stages of the aging process as well as anytime they experience a change in their health.
The food you feed your pet provides the fuel they need to grow and play. While cost may be a factor, you never want to sacrifice value to reduce pet care expenses. Instead, focus on selecting nutritious food that provides your pet with a balanced diet that fits their unique needs based upon their age, breed and activity levels. This way, you can look forward to many years of love and affection from your favorite furry friend.