Should I free-feed or schedule feed my pet?

Published on May 29, 2013 by in Blog

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An age old question that some of our pet sitting clients in Gilbert ask us is, when it comes to feeding my pets, (especially for most cat owners), should I free feed (leaving food out readily available for them to eat at will) or put my pet on a scheduled feeding?

There are many reasons why an owner might choose free feeding over scheduled feeding: one less thing to have to remember to do during the day, the pet will eat when they’re hungry, owner has long work hours, and of course ease for the owner. However, some pets, again especially cats, do not have an ‘off’ switch when it comes to their food. They eat because it tastes good and/or they are bored. There is nothing telling them they have had ‘enough’ so they over eat. Overeating can lead to many potential illnesses, not the least of which is diabetes. If the idea of administering shots twice a day to your pet and the extended often costly expenses associated with diabetes and other potential illnesses do not appeal to you, you may want to consider a scheduled feeding.

Why would you schedule feed? Let’s face it; dogs don’t have cocktail parties, barbeques, or bridge nights to go to. Eating, and their walk/play time with you, is often the highlight of their day. So giving them something to look forward to twice a day is really something nice for your pets. If you have a Daschund and a Great Dane, obviously they will need different amounts and types of foods, and free feeding simply will not work.  But the main reason to schedule feed your pets though, is primarily to control the amount of food they eat, which is long term best for their health.

If however you still feel free-feeding works best for you and your lifestyle, there *is* a way to do that and protect your pet’s health. Figure out what the daily amount your pet should be eating is. Is it ¾ cup of kibble, 2 cups, ½ cup? Whatever the amount, pour the pre-measured amount in their bowl and do not give them anymore. No matter how much they ask!

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