5 Ways to Combat the Pet Obesity Epidemic

Are you making your best friend sick and not even realizing it?

Believe it or not, a vast number of dogs and cats are either overweight or obese. Between 25 and 40 percent of dogs are considered obese or are likely to become obese, and at least 25 percent of all cats are considered obese or are likely to become obese.

Pet obesity is usually caused by over-eating and a lack of physical exercise. Pet owners view food and treats as a way to reward their pets, which contributes to overeating. And with many people’s hectic lifestyles, pets don’t always get the exercise they need.

This is not something to be taken lightly. When your pet is overweight, he is susceptible to arthritis, high blood pressure, and even diabetes and cancer. Even if your pet is perfectly healthy right now, there are steps you should take to ensure that health continues. And if your pet is already overweight, the time to act is now.

Here are five ways to combat the pet obesity epidemic.

1. Cut back on the scraps your pets eat. You might think it’s cute when your pet acts as your “vacuum cleaner” in the kitchen or gobbles up the messes your kids make. But too much people food is not good for any animal. It’s OK to give them some leftovers every now and then, but keep this in check and limit what you give them. Pet owners never think of all these fat calories that their pets are getting from this often everyday routine.

2. Increase your pets exercise routine. With a cat, consider setting aside a certain amount of time each day to play with them. For dogs, the best approach is to get active yourself and take them with you around the yard, on a walk, or to the park. An added benefit? You will be improving your health while doing the same for your best friend.

3. Do not overfeed your pets. Pet food manufacturers don’t always list the number of calories in each serving. Use a pet food calculator to determine your pet’s ideal dailly caloric intake. Compare that to what your feeding your pet – including treats and any human food you might be sharing. A lot of people never really think about how many calories they are giving their pet. This can be a big turning point for pet obesity, and can also prevent you from wasting food.


4. Cut back on treats, which are high in sugar and fats. Treats are often full of calories and too many of them will make your pets sick. There are healthy treats on the market, so if you must give your pet treats, make sure they’re low in calories and contain nutritious ingredients, not just fillers. Rewarding your pets is always fun, but keep the calories in check. As an alternative, try rewarding your pets with attention or a favorite toy instead of so many treats.

5. Be aware of your pet’s situation before it gets out of hand. Keeping track of how much your feeding your pet, along with reducing the overall calories, will lead to a healthier pet. Always be aware of what your pet is consuming, and know how much exercise they’re getting. Finally, take action at the first sign of weight gain or decreased energy.


Should You Supplement Your Dog’s Diet?

As a general rule, before supplementing your dog’s diet, you should discuss with your veterinarian the available evidence or recommendations supporting the use of nutriceuticals and dietary supplements. Be certain to avoid high levels of supplementation of any single nutrient unless you’re certain that it’s safe and won’t interfere with any other medications your pet may be taking.


Supplements fall into two general and very large categories: vitamin and mineral supplements and nutriceuticals. Nutriceuticals are nutrient supplements given to obtain a pharmacologic (drug-like) effect or to prevent a specific disease. The overall benefit of vitamin and mineral supplements is hotly debated. According to most feeding studies of healthy dogs, dogs that eat an appropriate balanced diet do not need supplements. Nevertheless, many of us take dietary supplements ourselves and wish to provide our pets with the same potential benefits.

Of course, dietary supplements can also be dangerous. Excessive supplementation with calcium salts, for example, can lead to significant bone diseases in growing dogs. Vitamin D supplementation can lead to harmful elevations of the blood calcium and damage to the kidneys. Nutriceuticals fall into a different category since they are used to either prevent or treat specific diseases. Examples include: taurine (an amino acid essential to cats) and Cosequin (a protein complex of possible benefit in joint health). There are others, such as L-carnitine (sometimes used for heart conditions), rutin (used for a serious condition called chylothorax) and co-enzyme Q10. Be aware that the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate supplements in the same way that drugs are regulated and controlled. The proof of effectiveness and safety demanded for pharmaceuticals is not required for nutriceuticals or vitamins.


As a general rule, before supplementing your dog’s diet, you should discuss with your veterinarian the available evidence supporting the use of nutriceuticals and dietary supplements. Be certain to avoid high levels of supplementation of any single nutrient unless you’re certain that it is safe and will not interfere with any other medications your pet may take.


Rawhides for Dogs: To Chew or Not to Chew?

Last September I found myself in an upstate New York country vet’s office on a Friday night at roughly 1 a.m., hugging my sobbing, future sister-in-law, Theresa.

Her dog, Raila, a Shepherd mix, started breathing strangely earlier in the day. Raila’s wheezing gave way to rattling sounds when she exhaled. She also had a lower than usual energy level, and did not bark when someone approached the front door. In fact, she wasn’t barking at all.

Having owned four dogs I have seen my share of out of the ordinary behaviors.

I have also learned that the most important thing to do when you suspect there is a problem is to follow your gut instinct. The old adage, “Better safe than sorry,” always applies. Following my gut, combined with quick action saved my Cocker Spaniel, Anise, from going blind from a cat scratch, and also from complications from colitis, as well as aided prolonging my former Shepherd, Nyla’s life.

Concerned for Raila, I went into detective mode and asked if Raila had eaten anything unusual. Theresa replied that she hadn’t. Then, I noticed a piece of rawhide on the floor. Knowing the dangers of rawhide, I asked about the “treat.” Theresa did not suspect it as the culprit and said Raila had eaten those treats in the past. However, she also admitted to being a little hesitant to give one to Raila that morning because, some months before, another family dog, Carmella, a Shiba Inu, nearly choked to death on the exact same type of treat.

After fretful hours of trying to figure out Raila’s behavior and watching Raila get worse over the course of the evening – to the point where she couldn’t drink water – Theresa agreed to take the dog to an emergency vet.

Sure enough, rawhide was to blame. The vet gave Raila a fast-acting tranquilizer so he could look down her throat. He determined the rawhide had completely passed down her throat (scraping as it went; imagine swallowing a Dorito) so she was out of the woods. Raila was lucky. Although she suffered a nasty scratch to the throat that required two-weeks-worth of antibiotics, and had to eat a modified diet for one week, she recovered.

Not every dog is so lucky.

Do you know about the dangers of rawhide? Many otherwise informed and conscientious dog parents do not realize that feeding their beloved pooch rawhide treats may lead to, among other ailments, choking, intestinal blockage, pancreatitis and even death.

Rawhide. The stuff is everywhere. And it is available in so many different forms. Choose your own dead animal part pig snouts, ears, hooves, innards or just plain cow skin.

Why is it risky business to feed your dog these treats? Let us delve into the heart of the hide and learn why. Rawhide is cured animal hide pressed into shapes, such as bones, or just left au natural. This seemingly ultimate chew toy (inexpensive and hey! Dogs love’em) has lurking danger potential, especially if you do not monitor your dog’s chewing habits.

Rawhide can be chewed up into tiny pieces and scratch the throat on the way down to the gut, as in Raila’s case. That is if it makes it to the gut. Choking is another very real danger of rawhide as the uneven, gnarled pieces may get lodged in your pet’s throat. If the happy hide makes its way down there without a hitch, then you need to worry about acute pancreatitis and intestinal blockage.

Surprised? Thought you were just keeping Fido happy?

Rawhide is also not regulated so any old “ingredient” may find its way in there, including arsenic and formaldehyde. So it is best to buy American or Canadian rawhides only. Also, as rawhides are made from animal bi-products, salmonella is a worry. And as many dogs are allergic to various substances, it is best to buy the unbleached kind.

If you are still interested, consider what one Texas-based craftsperson, Dusti Summerbird-Lockey, who also runs the Dallas/Fort Worth-based Dane Angel Network, writes about the dangers of rawhide. Since he is an artist who works with rawhide, he knows first hand how dangerous the material can be for animals.
He describes the manufacturing of rawhide, explaining that rawhide comes from bull, cow and horsehides obtained from slaughterhouses. Once all meat is scraped off, the hide is repeatedly soaked in either an ash-lye solution or a lime solution. The ash-lye involves covering or soaking the hide in a mixture of wood ash and water, which creates lye. The hide soaks for approximately three days in the lye solution, then as much of the hair as possible is scraped off. The process is repeated until all hair is removed.

The lime solution is the quickest and most often utilized by manufacturers… The hide soaks for one to three days and the hair is scraped off. This process is highly caustic but the most efficient for mass production.

As if this weren’t scary enough, the lime solution is removed with a bleach solution. This process also ‘sanitizes’ the rawhide. The rawhide is then pressed into shapes and dried, during which time the rawhide shrinks up to half of its size.

This means that the rawhide can expand in a dog’s stomach, once it is wet with saliva and swallowed. The gastric juices will not break it down and it is this bloated piece of hide that can cause stomach upset or even death.

So, now what? Luckily you are not stuck with the hide.

If you want to provide your dog with a safer, chewy treat there are alternatives. Try bone-shaped salmon skins, which are high in Omega 3 fatty acids, sweet potato chews, rich in beta carotene and antioxidants, or Kong® toys, which are durable rubber toys that can be stuffed with soft treat material; and there are many more nutritious treats to be found at holistic pet stores. However, to refer to another adage “an ounce of prevention” always keep a close eye on your furry loved ones while they are munching on treats.

Wendy Doscher-Smith is a journalist, dog photographer and groomer. She can be reached at wendystar3@gmail.comwww.bocadogmagazine.com

Healthy Dog Treats

Obesity in dogs is a major health concern. Just as with people, canine obesity can lead to very serious health problems. Diabetes, pancreatitis, arthritis and heart disease are just a few of the problems that can be caused by or worsened if your dog is overweight. While many pets are fortunate to stay naturally slim, there are those who seem to get fat with little effort.

And then there are those accomplished actors who have refined the business of asking for a morsel to an art form. Here are a few suggestions for offering your pet some healthy alternatives when you want to give them a treat.

If your pet has any type of weight problem (underweight as well as overweight) please check with your veterinarian to rule out possible causes. If your pet has dietary restrictions, discuss giving any new food with your vet.


Anyone who’s ever seen a dog eat grass or greens knows there’s a vegetarian side to your pet. Before domestication, when dogs hunted for their living, they ate the entrails of their prey, which contained a considerable amount of digested vegetable matter. Most animals still want some of this vegetation, but can’t digest the tough fibrous components on their own. Try offering your dog some cooked green beans, carrots or peas. Many pets love them, and you can even mix them into their regular diet.

Rice, Popcorn and Pasta

Another favorite for many pets are rice, popcorn and pasta. A bit of a rice cake or some air popped popcorn is a great substitute for a high fat treat. Cooked rice can be added for bulk to a weight control diet. It’s a way of giving your pet more food without adding a lot of fat calories. Cooked pasta is also great. Many pets relish a few elbow macaroni or other plain pasta.

Egg Whites, Cottage Cheese and Yogurt

A cooked egg white is a great protein treat, hard boil a few and keep them on hand. (The yolk has all the fat!) A little dab of cottage cheese or plain yogurt substitutes for licking that ice cream bowl!

Prescription Diets

If your pet has a health problem that is being controlled on a prescription diet from your veterinarian, sometimes treats have to be eliminated. Ask your veterinarian if a canned formulation of the diet is available. Most companies do make both canned and dried versions. Remove the food from the can in one large piece. Use a cheese slicer or knife to cut 1/4-inch slices and put them on a cookie sheet. Bake them at 300 degrees Fahrenheit until they are crispy, like a cracker. This gives your pet a crunchy treat that stays within the diet plan.

Food Sensitivities

Many pets have allergies or food sensitivities. Common culprits are dyes, flavorings, preservatives, carbohydrates and protein sources. If your pet is sensitive to any of these components, look for treats that are hypoallergenic, and have minimal or no dyes or preservatives. There are a number available in your local pet store.

The Last Word

If you can’t resist feeding your pet little extras from the table or sharing every meal you have with him, consider carefully what you may be doing. A small dog that would normally weigh 10 to 12 pounds can gain a considerable amount of weight being given an overabundance of treats. A weight gain of one pound may not seem like much but to a small pet, one pound can be 10 percent of his body weight. That’s like 15 pounds for a person! Use some healthy alternatives to help keep your pet in his best shape.

Why Table Scraps Are Bad For Dogs

Winter is the time for holiday parties and large, traditional dinners. But as much as you may want to include your pet in this fun, feeding him a few treats from the table is not the way. Table food is too fatty for the digestive systems of most animals and can lead to severe stomach upsets, occasionally triggering possibly fatal pancreatic inflammation.

To keep your pet safe this season, remember the following:

  • Chicken and turkey bones are highly dangerous; they can splinter and puncture the stomach or intestines.
  • Don’t fill the dog’s bowl with table scraps. Most are too fatty for an animal’s digestive system.
  • Don’t give chocolate to your dog; it can be toxic.
  • Make sure to put garbage into tightly covered cans to prevent your dog from giving into temptation and making a meal of your discards.
  • Call your vet if your pet shows signs of stomach upset – diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Feeding Your Dog – Canned or Dry And How Often?

    After bringing your dog home, one of the first decisions to make is what to feed him, how much to feed him and how often do you feed your new family member. Once you have decided what to feed your dog, deciding between canned food and dry food can be difficult.

    Canned or Dry

    Most dry dog foods are soybean, corn or rice based. Some of the better brands have meat or fish meal as the first listed ingredient. Although higher priced, they are worth looking into. Dogs eat less of the higher quality products, thus reducing the cost. Dry dog foods also have greater “caloric density” which means simply, there is less water in a cup of food as compared to a canned food diet. This is not a big issue for our smaller canine friends, but large dogs may have difficulty eating enough volume of canned food to fulfill their caloric needs (because they also get a lot of water in that food). Overall, the choice of “dry” vs. “canned” vs. “semi-moist” is an individual one, but larger dogs (such as those greater than 30 pounds) should be fed a dry or semi-moist food in most circumstances.


    How Often

    There are various methods of feeding dogs. Sometimes, the age and size of the pet plays a role and sometimes the habits of the dog. There are two common methods of feeding; free choice and limited time feeding.

    Free Choice

    Many people choose to keep the dog food bowl full at all times. This allows the dog to eat whenever he wants and can also eat as much as he wants. Though very easy, this method of feeding is usually not recommended. By keeping the bowl full, you cannot monitor the amount of food your pet is eating, leading to obesity. If your family includes several dogs, free choice feeding often makes it difficult to determine if one pet is eating more or eating less. For some dogs that eat small amounts frequently throughout the day or toy breed dogs prone to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), free choice feeding may be acceptable. Each morning, the bowl is filled with the day’s ration. Regardless of when the bowl is emptied, no more food is to be added to the bowl until the following day, else you end up with a chubby puppy.

    Limited Timed Feeding

    The preferred method of feeding is to feed small meals, several times through the day. The day’s total ration is divided over several feedings. The number of feedings is based on the pet’s age and size. For each feeding, the specified amount of food is offered to the dog. If not eaten right away, the food should be removed in 20 minutes and not offered again until the next scheduled feeding. It may take your pup several tries to understand that he needs to eat the food when it is offered, or a meal will be missed.

    Puppies less than 3 months of age should be fed four times per day. For example, if your puppy’s size and age dictates that he should be fed one cup of food per day, offer 1/4 cup food four times a day. If the pup does not eat at one of the feedings, don’t add more food later. Each feeding, regardless of if it is eaten or not, should contain 1/4 cup of food.


    When the pup is between 3 to 6 months old feed three meals per day. Remember to check the manufacturer’s recommendations on how much to feed. As your puppy ages, his size increases, and he will need more food each day. This amount of food is divided into 3 feedings. 

    Once your dog is over 6 months of age, his adult feeding pattern can be established. Some dogs do well on one feeding a day but two feedings a day is usually recommended. Small breeds and toy dogs should continue to be fed three times a day, to help prevent hypoglycemia.

    For multi-dog families, limited time feeding is recommended. You may even have to feed each dog in a separate room. Provide the allotted amount of food and only allow access for 20 minutes. When the time is up, remove the food bowls and any remaining food. This can help you monitor each dog’s appetite and help prevent a dog on a diet from taking an extra helping.


    Dogs thrive on routine so decide on a feeding pattern early in your pet’s life and stick to it. You may want to consider feeding your dog while the family dines. This can occupy your pet while the family eats and keeps him from begging or creating problems during the family meal.

    The Dangers of Bones to Dogs

    You have finally succeeded in teaching your dog not to beg. Dinner is now a pleasant meal for you and your family. As a reward, you think your dog might enjoy chewing on the leftover bones. After all, his distant cousin the wolf chews bones all the time and chewing bones promotes healthy teeth and gums, right? What can it hurt?

    Actually, bones are not as healthy as you may think. Some dogs may never develop a problem associated with chewing bones but some may. And, some bone related problems can be very serious. With so many alternatives and little need for chewing real bones, are the benefits worth the risks?

    Potential Complications

    Unfortunately, if you decide to give your pet a bone, or he finds one in the trash, he may be getting more than just a tasty treat. Bones do not break down easily. This means your pet may have to pass them through his stool. This often leads to a serious impaction and constipation, requiring a trip to the veterinarian. Bones can also be a choking hazard and can cause possible intestinal bleeding if the bone shards break off and tear the intestinal lining.


    Types of Bone Problems

    Thin bones, such as ribs, can get lodged in the throat or even the roof of the mouth. In one case, a Doberman suffered several days with a rib bone lodged in the roof of his mouth. By that time, the bone had cause significant tissue damage to the roof of the mouth and surrounding gums.

    Round steak bones also pose a threat because they can get wedged around the lower jaw. Veterinarians often must use bolt cutters or even hacksaws to remove them, which is extremely uncomfortable for the dog and may require sedation.

    Chicken and turkey bones are especially dangerous. They are more fragile and splinter easily. Splintered bones can cause perforation of the mouth, throat, intestines and colon, causing internal trauma.


    What to Watch For

    • Struggling to breathe
    • Straining to go to the bathroom
    • Bloody diarrhea
    • Pawing at the mouth
    • Lack of appetite
    • Vomiting



    The safest thing to do is to only give “bones” that have been designed for dogs to chew on. This can include Nylabones© which tend to be relatively indestructible and are often flavored. Another alternative is to offer him acceptable chew toys. Rawhide toys, given in moderation, are fun to chew, for instance. Again, be careful how often you offer a rawhide toy because pieces can break off and cause constipation.


    Is Your Dog Too Fat?

    Diet and nutritional status are crucial to your dog’s general health. Unfortunately, many pets are overweight – much like their owners. And – like their owners – pets are not as healthy when they are carrying too much weight. Chubby dogs often suffer from arthritis and heart disease. If you are concerned that your pet is overweight, here are some ways you can evaluate your pet’s body condition.

    • Body fat. Stand behind him and place your thumbs on the spine midway down the back. Fan out your fingers and spread them over the ribs. With your thumbs lightly pressing on the spine and fingers on the ribs, slide your hands gently up and down.


    • In normal dogs there is a thin layer of fat. You can feel the ribs easily, although you won’t see them. If your dog is overweight, you will not be able to readily feel the ribs, and the tissue over the ribs may feel smooth and wavy.
    • Appearance. Normal dogs have an hourglass appearance. Fat dogs have abdomens protruding from the sides, as well as enlarged fatty areas on either side of the tail base and over the hips. A fatty area may also be present on the neck and front of the chest. When obese dogs walk, they may have a classic waddle.


    • If you feel that your dog is obese, contact your veterinarian. Tests may need to be performed to eliminate underlying disease as a cause of the obesity. In addition, your veterinarian can help you improve your dog’s body condition and overall health.


    Chow Time: A Guide to Feeding Your Dog

    It’s a highlight of your dog’s day. Okay, in fairness, it’s a highlight of everyone’s day, but even more so for your pooch.

    Your dog looks forward to and is delighted by feeding time. He salivates and watches your movements, attempting to anticipate when meal time arrives. Like clockwork, your dog is able to memorize his feeding routine.

    Good nutrition is no accident. Your dog needs a balanced diet complete with proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, and vitamins. It takes dedication and perseverance to make sure your dog eats what he should, rather than what he wants to consume.

    So what exactly can you do, as a dog owner, to ensure complete nutrition is achieved by your canine? What follows is a guide for feeding your dog.

    The Lowdown on Dog Food

    It’s important to recognize that not all dog foods are created equal. While most dog foods are soybean-, rice-, or corn-based, better brands may have meat or fish meal listed as the first ingredient.

    Although better-quality brands tend to be priced higher, they can prove worthwhile. Dogs typically eat less of high quality-products, since they have greater caloric density. This extends the time this food lasts, helping offset the higher cost.

    The choice of dry vs. canned vs. semi-moist food is an individual one, but larger dogs should be fed a dry or semi-moist diet, since they may have difficulty consuming enough canned food to fulfill their caloric needs.

    Consider Your Dog’s Body Weight

    Your dog’s weight can be used to dictate feeding quantity. By following basic feeding rules with regards to body weight, you can serve as your dog’s unofficial dietitian.

    If your dog is underweight, feed him one-and-one-half times the “usual” amount of food and consider switching to a food with higher protein and fat content. Similarly, if your dog is lean, as many active young dogs are, consider increasing total daily food intake by 25 percent.

    On the other hand, if your dog is chubby, reduce daily food intake by 25 percent and limit treats. More drastic food-changing measures may be needed for an obese dog – such as switching to a low fat/high fiber diet – but consult your veterinarian before pursuing this course of action.

    Feeding Frequency

    The frequency with which you should feed your dog will depend on your dog’s age and size. Whereas a puppy needs to be fed three to four times per day, an adult dog only requires one or two daily feedings.

    The key for dog feeding is to develop consistency. Dogs are creatures of habit and thrive with a set routine. Consider feeding your dog during your family’s mealtimes so you have a set schedule and so your dog shows less interest in your food.

    Two of the most popular dog feeding methods are free-choice and limited-time. With free-choice feeding, the dog’s food bowl is kept full and the dog can eat whatever quantity he wants whenever he wants. Since many dogs do not possess the necessary discipline for free-choice, the preferred method is limited-feeding, whereby the day’s total ration is divided over a set number of feedings.

    Feeding Your Puppy

    Puppies have special dietary needs relative to adult dogs. When you first bring your puppy home, maintain the same food the puppy was receiving from the rescue, shelter, or breeder. This will help minimize the degree of change the puppy experiences while transitioning to his permanent home.

    Puppies should be fed puppy food designed to supply all the nutrients that a rapidly-growing pup needs. Some people refer to such rations as “growth formula,” but regardless of the name, make sure the food package has a stamp of approval from the Association of American Feed Control Officers (AAFCO).

    It’s a good rule of thumb to feed your puppy small yet frequent meals. An eight-week-old puppy probably needs four meals per day, with a gradual reduction in feeding frequency in the subsequent months.

    Feeding Your Senior Dog

    As dogs age, their health and stamina slowly decline. Consequently, proper nutrition becomes more important than ever. Managing your senior dog’s diet properly will help elongate his life.

    Foods for older dogs are lower in protein, sodium, and phosphorous to help their aging hearts and kidneys. Increased amounts of certain vitamins have also proven beneficial in geriatric dogs. But the best diet for a senior dog will depend on the specific problems or nutritional requirements facing that particular pooch.

    Chow Time: A Guide to Feeding Your Cat

    Diet is the foundation of good health for most living things, and your cat is no different.

    While Garfield can get away with eating lasagna at every meal, your feline operates in a world where poor nutritional choices have consequences. What and when you feed your cat can have a profound impact on his health and well-being.

    When it comes to feeding your cat, there are a number of decisions confronting you. Wet food or dry food? Limited-time feeding or free-choice feeding? Two feedings per day or three?

    These decisions may seem difficult at first but, by becoming an informed cat owner, you can make choices that will guide your feline down a path towards happiness and good health. Even Jon Arbuckle, Garfield’s owner, would approve.

    Wet Food vs. Dry Food

    The debate between wet and dry cat food has waged for some time. Ultimately, it comes down to individual choice, as both varieties – when served in reasonable amounts at adequate increments – should result in proper nutrition for your feline friend.

    That said, wet food and dry food do produce different health advantages. Whereas dry food may assist with prevention of dental diseases, wet food aids with urinary disorders by increasing water consumption.

    Many owners opt to establish a feeding schedule that offers both varieties, thereby ensuring cats reap the health benefits of both. This strategy also helps controls costs for cat owners, since wet food tends to be pricier than dry food.

    Feeding Frequency

    Similar to the wet vs. dry food debate, there’s not necessarily a wrong answer when it comes to how often you feed your cat. This frequency can vary based on your cat’s age and size.

    While various methods exist for feeding cats, there are two common methods of feeding: free-choice feeding and limited-time feeding. Free-choice feeding involves keeping your cat’s bowl full of dry food such that the cat can eat as much as he wants. Conversely, limited-time feeding occurs when you feed your cat smaller meals at various intervals throughout the day.

    In general, free-choice feeding is recommended for kittens and limited-time feeding is utilized for multiple-cat families and for cats who need to have their weight monitored. With limited-time feeding, a cat is typically fed two or three times each day.

    Feeding Your Kitten

    While nutrition is important for all cats, it’s especially crucial for kittens, as it supports their rapid growth. A kitten consumes a diet of nutrient-rich milk from his mother until the age of 10 weeks, when weaning should begin.

    After weaning, a balanced, complete diet provides all the nutrients – energy, protein, vitamins, minerals –- in proper proportion and amount. Though foods specially-formulated for kittens are more nutrient-dense, a diet for “all stages” – one that can be fed to kittens and adults – may be utilized as well.

    Of particular importance is ensuring your kitten likes the taste of his food, so that he will eat well. Once you’ve found a nutritional variety your kitten enjoys, stick with it to achieve consistency. For younger kittens, ease of eating is necessary, so incorporate a diet with soft food or small pieces.

    Feeding Your Adult Cat

    Even once full grown, a cat’s nutrition remains fundamentally important. The ideal diet for your adult cat includes a high-quality food and plenty of fresh water. Your cat should be fed amounts sufficient to meet energy and caloric requirements. Inadequate or excess intake of nutrients can be equally harmful.

    Cats have unusual dietary needs consisting of the following nutrients:

    • Vitamin A
    • Niacin
    • Essential fatty acids
    • Taurine

    It’s recommended to feed your cat one ounce of canned food daily, or one-third ounce of dry food, per pound of body weight. While young cats are very active and tend to self-regulate their food intake, older cats who have slowed down can be prone to obesity.

    Raw Meat Debate: Should You Feed it to Your Cat?

    The wet vs. dry food debate is not the only hotly-contested disagreement that exists regarding the feeding of cats. Another battle wages regarding raw meat, with pros and cons prevalent for both viewpoints.

    Believing that commercial cat foods are lacking in proper nutrition, some people – including a few veterinarians – hold the view that serving your cat raw meat represents a healthier option. These proponents of raw meat contend that many commercial pet foods contain numerous toxins that impair a cat’s health. They believe that cats consuming raw meat diets have better coats, fewer dental problems, fresher breath, and less body odor.