To Free Feed or not,,,,,That is the question!

As a pet sitter, I run into all kinds of methods of feeding for other people's pets. Nothing ever surprises me! The rising costs of pet food is constantly changing. There are so many different brands, textures and quality of food on the market. It's hard to make a decision as to what is the best food for your pet. Many pet parents choose their food based on what their friends advise them to feed, or what their Vet recommends. Some may go through trial and error to see what their pet actually finds appetizing to their pallet! Either way, it can be a tough  decision. The industry does make it a bit easier now with specialized foods for specific needs. Of course there is the puppy and kitten chows that need to be fed usually up to the age of 1 year. They are packed full of nutrients for the growing pets. There are specific types of food for different health issues. The choices are endless! I myself become overwhelmed when walking through the isle of pet food at my pet chain. I want the best for my babies so I spend a lot of time reading labels and more specifically ingredients. For my cats,,,I want a nutritious food that is geared for urinary health. My cats are all neutered males. The indoor neutered males tend to have more problems with urinary tracts. So I look for a balanced dry food that is low in ash, low in magnesium, and higher in water content. Most pet food companies have their own food specific to urinary tracts. I also make sure that the first ingredients listed are meats, not grain or corn. But in addition to the dry food, my kitties diet consist mostly of wet canned food. The wetter the better. Gravy style is best. This ensures me that they are taking in  the moisture needed to sustain a healthy bladder! So, now we approach the decision of whether we should set up feeding schedules or free feed, which means, leaving food out consistently. I personally do not free feed. Free feeding has been proven to increase obesity in indoor pets. It also becomes boring to a pet to have the food out at all times, not to mention it eventually becomes stale and unpalatable. Setting up feeding schedules is the best way to control the amount that goes into your pets tummy. It will help control with obesity issues and finicky issues. Now I'm not saying that this is the ONLY way to feed a pet. I have many clients that free feed their pets and it works great! Each pet is individual and its up to us to monitor which of these methods work best for the pets. If your pet is increasingly gaining weight due to lack of exercise or an abundance of food available throughout the day, then you might consider schedules. On the other hand, if you have a pet that is primarily outside and gets a lot of exercise but typically does not like to eat his/her meals at one sitting, then by all means, leave portions out for them to nibble on throughout the day. But make sure the other outside pests, such as ants, flies, birds...other creatures don't saturate the food as well. To me, that's almost like contamination! We as humans wouldn't eat a portion of food if a fly landed on it! Why should we expect Fido to? So do your homework, ask other professionals in the pet industry for suggestions. You will make the best decision for your baby. I will add one more note to the topic. If you DO free feed, please throw out food that has been sitting for more than 24 hours. I'm not a professional nutritionist. I do my homework though and constantly read articles and also talk to my vet about the best food for my animals.

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