Unlike people, who always change food items in their diet depending on the time of day, dogs and cats should be fed the same food daily. In fact, for a healthy dog or cat, there should be 2 meals (same food) fed per day-morning and evening with access to clean, fresh water 24/7. The diet should not be changed and doesn’t need to be changed. In fact, changing the diet can lead to digestive problems. If a diet needs to be changed, it should be done very slowly over several weeks to help prevent the onset of vomiting/diarrhea/gas/bloating.
A common question is what to feed- canned food or dry, fresh or frozen, cooked or raw? The answer is: it depends. If your dog or cat tends to have very soft stools, you may want to choose a dry food. However, if your pet is not a big water drinker, you may want to choose a canned food and even add some extra water to it. If your pet eats too quickly, adding water will help. If he or she still devours the food as if it is being inhaled, you may want to switch to one of the puzzle dishes that helps slow the eating process down to a healthier speed.
The less processed the food is, the easier it will be to digest. So if your dog or cat has digestive difficulties, you may want to choose a healthy, canned food with no by-products or chemicals. Home-cooked meals are fine, but they are a lot of work and it is very important to have all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals at all of the right proportions. I never advocate raw food because there is always a risk of deadly bacteria and parasites. In fact, if you have a service dog, that dog will not be allowed in any nursing home or children’s hospital within 90 days of eating raw meat. The reason is that Salmonella can still be present in the saliva for up to 90 days. E. coli and Campylobacter are other disease-causing bacteria found in raw meat. Cooking the meat at the appropriate temperatures is the only way to be sure of killing all of the disease-causing bacteria.
It is no longer okay to elevate food and water bowls. In fact, a new study showed that elevated dishes can actually increase the risk of bloating (GDV). That is where gas fills up in the stomach and it can actually twist on its axis. This is a serious disease and can be fatal. Large and deep-chested dogs are at the highest risk, but this can happen to any pet. Rest is important after meals.