Guest Post courtesy of Brenda Leary http://cuddleyourdogs.com/. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and do not necessarily represent the views of Val Heart & Heart Communications Enterprises Inc.
Did you know that the ritual of feeding your dog is a fundamental aspect of the relationship between a pet caretaker and their pet?
Key to an animal’s survival, the way they feed affects their levels of happiness, health and their entire state of wellness. (What they eat specifically is a discussion for another post… ) So, you may ask, what is the best way to feed dogs?
Choosing the most appropriate feeding method for your dog may, however, prove to be challenging given your personal schedule as a pet parent or your dog’s feeding preferences.
Different dogs have different feeding patterns, and their preferential differences are usually based on breed, age or initial dog training. Some only want to eat once a day, others could eat all day long if you let them. Some require a meal twice a day, and some need to eat more often.
The following are excellent tips on how to choose the best feeding method for your dog.
Free Feeding Method
Are you a dog parent with a busy schedule and are not always at home? Then this could be the perfect pet feeding solution for your lifestyle, or, you might want to get a cat instead. Just kidding… sort of.
The free feeding method means filling your dog’s food bowl to the top, which allows them to eat whenever they feel hungry. This way your dog can eat when you’re not around, and you can refill the dish whenever you get back.
Beware, because tempting as it may be to set it and forget it, this method has serious health challenges.
For one, your dog’s cuisine choices are limited to only dry kibble kinds of food. That is because wet food has the risk of going bad quickly which is a serious health hazard to your pet.
Providing a side bowl filled with plenty of good clean water is necessary.
However, a dog who chows down on a lot of kibble at once, and then drinks a great deal of water is at serious risk of gastric bloat. Adding water to a lot of kibble causes it to expand as it rehydrates. It can enlarge up to sometimes 2 and 3 times or more in size inside the dogs stomach.
This causes a serious, incredibly painful, life threatening condition where their stomach can blows up like a water balloon and twists in their gut requiring surgery.
If you are not there, then they will likely die a slow painful death before you discover them in agony. Your only choice to try and save their life unless it’s too late will be to race them to an emergency vet who will do surgery.
Another issue is the risk of obesity since some animals have the tendency of eating beyond their full capacity.
Also, if you have more than one dog, then this may not be the best feeding method for you either.
That’s because dogs have a dominating tendency over fellow dogs; if two are alone in the house without any supervision, the likely result is that the more aggressive one bullies the other one, especially over meals. They can also resource hoard and guard, so the strongest eat and weakest starve.
Scheduled Feeding Method
This is a preferable method if you have a predictable schedule which you stick to and you can make it home every day in time for your dog’s meal.
So, just like the name suggests, this method means feeding your dog at regular and predictable intervals just like people have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Normally under this approach, the number of meals are two or maybe three a day, to avoid extended periods of hunger for tiny dogs, or to avoid over feeding.
The scheduled feeding method is considered to be a healthier approach for your pet since it enables you to control the type and amount of food your dog eats per meal.
That makes it a control mechanism to reduce overeating and helps your pet avoid obesity because you can properly control the amount of food they eat.
Vets highly recommend the scheduled feeding method for dogs taking prescription medications.
That is because you can mix the medication into the food at the prescribed intervals. Reducing the struggle of giving the medication separately can be important.
It also helps ensure your dog is hungry enough to eat the doctored food, but of course, dogs are individuals and smarter than you think… so good luck with that.
Meal Feeding Method
Now, this method is somewhat similar to the scheduled feeding method with the distinction being that they eat when you eat your meals. That makes the number of meals range from two to three in certain instances.
Breakfast and/or dinner work well.
This approach also helps control the habit of begging at the dining table which as a pet parent you may have experienced.
It is important to take all factors – your convenience, your schedule, your dog’s health, age and breed, and their needs – into consideration in choosing the most appropriate feeding method for your dog. If you find it hard to pick one, then it is advisable to visit a veterinarian or professional animal communicator for guidance.
At some point, you will need to consider changing methods as they age or in the case of illness.
Whichever feeding method you pick, do not forget to serve clean water at all times and by all means, do not use plastic bowls which can leach toxins into their food and water. Food grade ceramic or steel or glass is your best option for bowls.
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