Feeding a dog can be a huge challenge for all pet parents. Especially for a growing puppy, who could turn out to be extremely picky on what they choose to eat or reject just by the sheer smell and sight of it. Adult dogs can get tired of binging on to the same food every day too. In such cases, ensuring a balanced and healthy diet becomes of utmost importance.
One of the key measures that can be taken to tackle this challenge is to have a proper regimen. However, feeding schedules may get tricky. One must consider a plethora of factors like the individual dog, lifestyle, time availability, type of food provided etc.
Feeding Schedules - Based on the above, there are 3 methods of feeding which can be adopted:
1) Feeding on demand –
In this type of feeding, food is made available to your pet’s desire and hunger at all times rather than on a schedule. This is ideal for people who have dogs that are slow eaters who nibble at their food (finicky) or dogs who have very high energy demands (working dogs). This allows your dog to eat frequent, small meals throughout the day.
• Convenient for working parents who are not at home for long periods of time
• Discourages coprophagy (stool-eating behavior)
• Over-eating and obesity are very common in this method of feeding
• The amount of food consumed by your dog is remains unknown. This prevents the early diagnosis of gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, anorexia, infections, deficiencies, etc.
Type of Food: Dry pet food is usually used as canned food spoils and semi-moist food dries out.
2) Time-restricted Meal Feeding –
Here, you allow your dog free access to food for 15-20mins, once or twice a day. This method is ideal for pets who have high self-regulatory feeding behavior i.e. they only consume the required amount of food and do not over stuff themselves.
• You get time to bond with your pets
• No prior knowledge of amount that is to be fed is required
• Finicky eaters or easily distracted pets may not consume enough food in the allotted time. This may result in loss of weight
• Some may even voraciously consume their food in a rush to “beat the clock”. This can lead to digestion issues and an increased risk of bloating
Type of Food: Fresh, canned or dry food may be fed in this manner.
3) Portion-controlled Meal Feeding –
This is the most commonly followed and preferred method. The amount to be fed is measured and provided at intervals in one or more divided portions throughout the day. Optimal for all types of dogs, this method may be adopted after consulting your vet to ensure all dietary parameters are met.
• You can closely monitor and observe changes in your pet’s appetite and intake. This helps in quickly detecting any diseases or disorders at an early stage
• Weight can easily be kept under control
• You must be totally aware of your pet’s nutritional requirements and the amount of food to be given
• Time investment is higher
Type of Food: All types of dog food may be provided in this method. Especially, fresh food.
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