Make Mealtime Special For Your Best Friend

FOCUS ON PETS

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Most dogs and cats spend far too much time alone with the family off at work or school. It is important to spend some quality time with our pets when we are home.

Walks are always welcome and throwing the ball or just sitting together with some pats on the head are terrific. But a great way to really make our dogs and cats feel special is by making a big deal out of mealtime.

Far too many people just keep their pet's bowl full of dry food. How interesting is that?

Some owners just dump food into the bowl once a day and when that is gone, that's all there is.

Most dogs and cats do not have very exciting things happen during the day and making a big deal out of mealtime gives them something to look forward to and they will love us for our efforts.

Humans do best on three meals a day. Our pets should have two meals a day for maximum health. Pets that are overweight, and so many of them are, will use their food more efficiently and actually lose weight with two measured meals a day.

So how can we make mealtime more interesting?

Bring the dog or cat into the kitchen when you are preparing his meal. Put his dish on the counter and visit with him while you are filling it.

Put his dry kibble into the bowl and then add a little something special. If you are cooking hot cereal for yourself, make a little extra.

Fix him an egg once a week. Yogurt, cottage cheese, vegetables or meat (not fat) are terrific and welcome additions to the meal.

A tablespoon or two of canned food works also. Add a little water and mix it all together.

Use hot water when it is cold. Remember however that the total quantity of the meal should stay consistent, depending on his weight.

Do all this adding and mixing for just one meal, depending on when you have the time to do it. For the other meal, follow the same procedure with the ceremony of meal preparation but serve him just dry kibble. Chewing dry kibble is good for the teeth of both dogs and cats, and it is important that they will eat the food dry.

Put the food down for 20 minutes or while you are eating your meal. At first, you might set a timer and when the bell rings, pick up the food dish. Soon the pet will learn that food should be eaten at mealtime.

The maximum nutritional value of the dry food is available when it is first removed from the bag. Food left sitting out is like potato chips that have been sitting out all day. They get soggy and awful. This is why it is important to keep the dry food in a tightly closed container or bag. Moisture and air adversely affect the quality of the food.

All this to-do about meal preparation may seem a bit much.

But give it a try.

When you see how much the dog or cat loves being part of the event and how he looks forward to spending this time with you, you just might decide it is worth the effort. Try it. You both will enjoy it.

Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net, or by snail-mail at HC1 Box 1521, Strawberry, AZ 85544.

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