Activity feeders – making mealtimes fun!

activity-feeders-for-catsOften, attempts to liven up their food with treats, gravy, chicken and a different flavour or type at every meal-time leads to overweight pets. In the same way, when presented with a delicious cheese board after a big meal I find it very hard to resist indulging myself even though I have eaten more than enough!

One of the most common questions I hear when discussing diet is “Won’t she get bored just eating one type or flavour of food?”

The answer is usually “No, just feed a really good quality diet, ensure that she is eating the correct amount and give a modest amount of treats during the day as a reward for good behavior.”

Our pets do not seem to require the stimulation of different tastes and textures as humans. However, if we can change how we feed our pets we can ensure we care for both their nutritional requirements and their mental stimulation.

Activity feeders, or food puzzles, are devices that make meal times fun. They are available for cats and dogs and can be used for feeding both wet and dry diets.

activity-feedersSimple ones are balls or tubes that are rolled along the ground dropping kibble on the ground when the hole is vertically down. These are particularly good for puppies. Other basic feeders include Kongs and other gnawable (but durable) toys that can have wet food put in them. A top tip is to put them in the freezer. This both prolongs the enjoyment of the activity and can be a nice cool treat on a summer’s day.

kong-feeders-for-dogsOther feeders can have sliding doors or levers and spinning parts that have to be negotiated before the food is revealed. They are often durable, safe and can be put in the dishwasher to be cleaned. We have a very extensive range of activity feeders at the clinic because we are so passionate about their advantages. In many cases we suggest that all your dog’s (or cat’s) meals can be fed using one of several these.

One of the reasons why the activity feeders are so great for your pets is that they slow down eating, especially important in deep-chested dogs that are prone to bloating or dogs that are prone to obesity. They also stimulate natural activities such as scavenging and hunting. This will make the meal more satisfying and relieve the boredom that many pets experience. Many of the minor behavioural issues that we encounter at the clinic can be addressed with simple environmental enrichment and increasing the mental stimulation our pets receive. Activity feeders deliver these changes in spades.

Like any new skill, the activity feeders can take time to master and may require a little patience starting with the simple puzzles first. However, the rewards are huge as you are helping to keep your pet healthy, happy and mentally stimulated.

Come to the clinic to check out some great activity feeders.

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Ian Stroud

Veterinary Surgeon at Vet4life
Ian Stroud is a highly experienced small animal veterinary surgeon with over 15 years working in practice. He has particular interests in several areas including minimally-invasive surgery, orthopaedics and oncology (cancer treatment). He currently practices in Teddington, Shepperton and Surbiton where he is the director of Vet4life.
Ian Stroud

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