Feeding Your Pet

Pets require different foods to make up their diets. Cats are carnivores, which means they eat only meat and require specific amino acids from their meals. Dogs are omnivorous, which means they get their nutrients from a variety of meats, vegetables, grains and fruits. Other animals may require meats, vegetables, grains, seeds or other items to maintain their health.

The amount of food your pet needs is relative to his or her lifestyle. More active animals will require more food, as will animals in colder temperatures. Consult with your veterinarian on the ideal food variety and amount for your pet.

Pet Food Varieties

Dog and cat foods come in two varieties — dry (kibble) or wet (fresh or canned products). Either type is specially formulated to provide the basic nutritional requirements, but remember that these requirements differ for various breeds, ages and lifestyles. Consult a veterinarian on the most appropriate food for your pet.

Storing Dry Food

  • Store in a cool, dry location that is not accessible to the animal. It’s best to store the food in a sealable container along with its original packaging to maintain access to the product information, in case there is a problem.
  • Follow the expiration or “best by” date. Look on the packaging and throw away any old food.
  • Wash the bowl regularly with soap hot water. Completely dry before refilling.

Storing Wet Food

  • Refrigerate or throw out any uneaten food to prevent illness. Once opened, wet or fresh products can only be left out at room temperature for about two hours and in a refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Do not feed your pet any containers that are damaged, dented or bulging.
  • Wash hands, utensils and scooping utensils before and after handling food.

Feed This, Not That

Be cautious that some seemingly safe treats for humans can have dangerous consequences when eaten by pets. Here are a few safe treats for pets:

  • Green beans
  • Apples
  • Pumpkin
  • Carrot
  • Peanut butter
  • Cooked lean meats or eggs

Below are a few of the food items that can endanger pets. If you have reason to suspect that your pet has ingested a potential toxin, please call your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center hotline at 1-888-426-4435.

  • Chocolate, especially dark chocolate
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Onion, garlic and chives, especially in cats
  • Avocado, especially the skin, pit and leaves from the tree
  • Macadamia nuts, almonds, pecans and walnuts
  • Human medications
  • Various types of houseplants and flowers
  • Xylitol, a sweetener used in sugarless gum, baked goods and toothpaste

Ideal Weight

Obesity is a growing problem for pets and leads to many health issues. Among those weight-related issues are diabetes, arthritis, kidney disease, high blood pressure and cancer. As all animals are different, weight alone is not the only indicator of weight issues. A good test to determine if your pet is obese is to look at him or her from above and from the side to look for a slight hourglass figure instead of a bulge or droop. Another indicator is to can lightly run your fingers along the chest, seeking to feel and count the ribs instead of a fat layer.

If you’re worried that your pet may be overweight, it’s something an owner can help control over time. Like you, weight loss is a combination of increased exercise and decreased calories for your pet. But, this process does take time, as a gradual process is the best. Talk with your veterinarian about suggestions for your pet based upon changes to your family’s lifestyle.