The mealtime challenge – improve your pets eating habits

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Improving your pets eating habits can certainly be a challenge, but how does your pet eat at mealtimes? Do you ever notice that your pet resembles a hoover when it comes to dinner time, yes labradors we are looking at you in particular!

Some pets, and even certain breeds, can appear to swallow their food without even chewing it! Within 5 seconds of placing their food bowl down at meal time, it is empty once again. This can lead to your pet begging for more food, overeating (if their begging is effective enough), obesity and some pets may even regurgitate their food when they eat too quickly, clean up on aisle 3!

It can be a challenge to slow them down but it is important that we do. When our pets eat slower it will help them to feel satisfied for longer, reduces begging and aids their digestion too. We want meal time to be a fun and enjoyable experience for our pets.

There are lots of ways we can promote this and here are 5 ideas for you:

  1. Tennis ball – a good ole’ tennis ball can be used as cheap and easy way to begin slowing your pet down when eating. All you need to do is add a tennis ball to their food bowl when it is mealtime. The tennis ball works as a type of obstacle for your pet and will challenge them to work a little harder to get their food.
  2. Mini meals – divide your pets daily meals into 4 or 5 mini meals, spreading them throughout the day. Now could be a good time to try this if you are spending more time at home. By using your pets daily food allowance (no extras) divide the amount out into smaller feeds and give this throughout the day, instead of 2 big meals.
  3. Scatter feeding – this involves feeding outside of the bowl. So instead of feeding using a bowl, you can scatter the food either in your house or in the garden (this can work for some dogs). You can literally throw their food in a few different directions or hide food around the house in different areas to encourage your pet to find the food, this can work really well for cats. This will slow them down for sure, a messy but good alternative.
  4. Food puzzles – these work similarly but may be a better option if you don’t want to constantly find food under your couch! There are so many different types of food puzzles on the market and you can also make your own (perhaps an activity for you and the kids while lockdown continues). The idea of food puzzles is to challenge your pet, encourage mental stimulation and essentially make them work for their food, totally changing your pets eating habits. Some puzzles have different levels of ease but always start on the easiest level and gradually make it more challenging. You will need to spend time with your pet when you introduce these and show them how it works but they are well worth the investment.
  5. Timed/Automatic feeders – this method of feeding can provide measured, mini meals at pre-designated times and removes the task from your daily jobs list! There are lots of these on the market and they can be used for both wet and dry food, keeping both fresh until the next meal time.

We hope to have given you some ideas for slowing your pets down at mealtime. Why don’t you give one a try and let us know what worked for you.

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