Make Your Pet's Mealtimes Fun

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Our lives today are rushed.

Our pets too often are drawn into this rush. Mealtime is an opportunity to interact with your pet.

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Mealtime is special for Lucie when her best friend sits beside her while she eats.

Make it special. Dogs and cats should be fed twice a day. Let them watch as you prepare their meal.

Talk to them and make a big deal out of how wonderful it will be.

Unfortunately, many pets spend most of their day alone. For them, mealtimes can be the highlight of their day.

How we feed our pets is important. What we feed them is critically important. In days gone by, many dogs and cats thrived on leftovers from the family's table. Those were healthier meals than we now eat. Meat, vegetables and potatoes were the main fare. Rich sauces and prepared foods containing artificial color, flavoring and preservatives were not available.

Healthy food

New, healthier pet foods are appearing on the market daily. Natural and organic pet foods are in. While the big pet food manufacturers are rushing to catch up to this recent trend toward healthier pet food, small companies have been committed to producing top-quality foods and, according to the Whole Dog Journal's special pet food edition, "Their production runs are small enough that they can formulate foods using ingredients of amazing quality. For the present, these are the companies who are making the healthiest foods."

It is important to know how to read and interpret the ingredient label.

According to the WDJ, the hallmarks of a high-quality food include the following: superior sources of protein, either whole fresh meats or single-source meat meal, a whole meat source as one of the first two ingredients and whole unprocessed grains, vegetables and other foods. (A previously unprocessed food has the best chance of surviving the food making process with some nutrients intact. That goes for people food too.)

Things to avoid in a pet food include food fragments, meat by-products, non-specific fats and proteins, such as animal fat. (This can include recycled grease from restaurants). Also, avoid artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT or Ethoxyquin, artificial color, propylene glycol which is added to moist foods to keep them moist, and any sweeteners.

It is impossible to write a short column about the importance of feeding a high quality pet food. You get what you pay for. By paying a little more, your dog is healthier and he will eat less because the food is more digestible.

Feed a good food. Feed twice a day and monitor his weight. You want to be able to feel the ribs and the backbone easily. And don't forget the exercise.

Rabies clinic

The low-cost rabies clinic, sponsored by Payson, Star Valley and Gila County rabies control will be tomorrow at the Main Street Animal Clinic, 411 West Main, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. County and city licenses will also be available.

Last week's column talked about those wonderful miniature horses. Pamela Newton, who owns minis, made one correction in what I wrote. There are two miniature horse registries. The American Miniature Horse Association recognizes horses that are 34 inches as measured at the withers. The American Miniature Horse Registry recognizes small horses that are no more than 38 inches tall. Either way, they are wonderful little horses and I wish I could have one.

Spay/neuter clinic

Since the last spay and neuter clinic sponsored by the Payson Humane Society was sold out, they are offering you another opportunity. The Plateau Land Mobile clinic of Flagstaff will be in Payson, at the lot behind the humane society, on Tuesday, Nov. 13.

Surgery fees are $55 for any animal weighing less than 60 pounds. Vaccinations and other services will be available to surgery patients at an additional low-cost fee. Spay and neuter surgeries will be by appointment only. Call the clinic toll-free, (888) 241-9731, for information or an appointment. You can also get information at the PHS (928) 474-5590.

Humane Society Chili Supper

Get your ticket for the Payson Humane Society's annual Chili Supper, which will be from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 13, at the Payson Elks Lodge. Tickets are $7.00 and $4.00 for children. This is a huge fund-raiser for the humane society. Whether or not you can attend, do buy a ticket.

After five years, next week's column will be my last. In it, I will wrap up my thoughts and strong feelings about pet ownership. Those of you who have been loyal readers already know what those are. Although I will no longer be writing the column, I will still be fighting for the rights of dogs, cats and other animals.

-- Christy Powers is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net.

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