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Meal feeding vs. Free feeding

By August 24, 2015 May 5th, 2016 No Comments

Here’s a question for you that you may not really consider important to the health of your pet but in reality it’s a big part of it. Do you meal feed your pet or free feed them? What’s the importance of that you may ask? One of the most commonly overlooked things in a pet’s health is their diet. It is however one of the most important things when looking at a pet’s overall health. Meal feeding is the recommended way to feed your pet – whether that’s a dog or cat – and here are some reasons why.

When your pet becomes ill and you take them to your veterinarian, they will want to know when they last ate and how much. If they are free fed how can you determine that? You may know whether or not they were at the bowl, but how much did they eat? How do you determine if it was their normal amount or less? And if you have more than one pet it becomes even harder to tell that if they are free fed.

Are they taking in the correct amount of calories on a daily basis if they are free fed? They could be over or under feeding themselves. Because there is such a wide range of foods out there and ingredients will vary with every kind of food the recommended serving amount may differ from brand to brand. If the recommended feeding amount for your pet is one cup a day, is that actually what they are taking in? If they are meal fed that is easy to determine but if they are free fed that is much harder. And again, if there is more than one pet and they are free fed than one may be taking in a lot more than the other.

And finally, one of the biggest reasons is health concerns. When a pet eats their body releases insulin. If they are on meals then their body only does this 1-2 times a day – when they are fed their meal. If the food is out all day long and they are constantly snacking then their body is constantly releasing insulin. Over time they build up insulin resistance and then they can become diabetic. Also, snacking frequently leads to obesity. That in itself can lead to many health issues such as: joint problems, more urinary tract infections and possible blocking in male cats, and the inability to groom themselves which can lead to dandruff and an unhealthy haircoat.

If you have any further questions about the importance of meal feeding your pet please do not hesitate to call our office at 410-848-3100.

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