Many pet owners mistakenly put a bowl of food out for pets and simply leave it there, or keep refilling it throughout the day as it become empty.
Then we wonder why our pets are obese.
Picture this: suppose your workplace had a unique benefit, a free smorgasbord. It is right there in the same room as your office, and you can go to it all day long and eat as much as you want any time you are clocked in.
You would soon weigh enough to have your own reality show!
As crazy as it sounds, that’s exactly what we’re doing when we free-feed our pets.
The price they pay for our generosity is obesity, lameness, arthritis, lethargy, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The very creatures we claim to love so much, we are killing with kindness.
And, bless their little hearts, they are just doing what comes naturally.
What should we do instead?
For dogs, ask your pet’s doctor for the recommended amount to feed for his ideal weight. Feed half that amount in the morning, and half that amount in the evening. To the best of your ability, stick to the same times seven days a week.
Here comes the hard part of the conversion process: Make the food available for only 15 minutes, then take it up. If he hasn’t eaten any, pick it up anyway. If he ate it all, that’s OK. Repeat the process in the evening.
Keep in mind that a pet who has been eating all day long will need a little adjustment time to get used to the new schedule. If he seems excessively hungry between meals give him a few bites of fresh carrot or drained green beans. Both are low in calories and high in fiber, giving him a full feeling without providing excessive calories.
For cats, who like to graze on their food through the day, take the daily allowance, divide it into two portions and feed half in the morning, half in the evening. It’s OK for the food to stay down if she doesn’t eat it all at one time, as long as other pets aren’t going to eat it and become overweight as a result.
Speaking of other pets eating food that doesn’t belong to them, allow me to make two more suggestions:
I frequently hear, “The dog is fat because he eats the cat’s food.” There is an easy fix for this. Put the cat’s food up. Cats jump. Extremely well. Dogs jump weakly. Putting the cat’s food on a bookshelf, bathroom vanity or other high place solves that problem.
I also frequently hear, “This dog is fat because he eats the other dog’s food.” By putting both dogs on a meal schedule (see above) and putting them in separate rooms when they eat that problem, too, will be solved. Just remember, when the fifteen minute meal is over, pick the food up.
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This is very enlightening. I have been free-feeding both of my cats, and after reading this article, realize I need to change their feeding schedule. They are not overweight, and Coco, especially, has always been a very picky eater, so I’m always glad to see her eat. Her appetite has improved immensly since she started on Wiggs Formula, and I’m grateful for that, but probably don’t need to continue their free feeding. Thank you for your help and your articles which are very educational. You are a Godsend for my kitties!
Thank you, Carole. It is always good to hear from you. We are here to help, and it is especially gratifying when we get feedback that tells us we have helped a pet. We are delighted that Coco is doing so much better.