If you’re an animal lover, you obviously know that how and what you feed your pets has a great impact on their overall well-being. This article will help you identify some key points when it comes to meal planning for a multi-pet household.
Feeding them can be a challenge on its own, which is why you should be strategic about this when you decide to be a pet parent, and start healthy habits early from the very first pet you decide to adopt.
10 Tips For Better Meal Planning In a Multi-Pet Household
Creating a solid meal plan for your pets should be a top priority. You will need to focus on adding the proper nutrition depending on the animals weight and food preference. Here are the basics of meal planning and feeding in a multi-pet household.
1. Visit your veterinarian
This should be the first thing on your to-do list; All animals are different, and each pet may have health conditions that are present from the very beginning. You want to take these potential conditions into consideration and contribute to your pet’s ability to heal from their genetic conditions, or at least create an environment where they can live comfortably with it.
Consult your veterinarian regarding your pet’s health. They can determine if there are any factors that need to be considered regarding what to feed them. Some specific dogs may be allergic to certain foods, for example, and you wouldn’t want to induce more of these allergies. Other pets may have other dietary needs that need to be managed. Get your vet’s advice on this, so you know how to plan your meals accordingly.
2. Proceed with a plan
Strategizing how to organize, plan, and execute the meal feeding is the best thing you can do for your sanity as a pet owner. If you want a multi-pet household, know that feeding your babies – and feeding them well – is part and parcel of the whole responsibility. Having a structure from the beginning will help organize your days and make everything much easier for you.
3. Find a nourishing brand of food
Though it may be tempting to get the cheapest food that you find in the supermarket, don’t scrimp on getting your pets the food that is most nutritious for them. High-quality food will increase their overall well-being and help them live healthier lives.
Remember that cat and dog food can’t be mixed together. You can make your life easier by getting a good brand that works for your dog and finding the cat food equivalent afterward. For example, Earthborn Holistic Dog Food makes healthy food for dogs, with an alternative for cats as well, so you can trust that nutritious options can be found for all your pets.
4. Prepare your pet’s meals ahead of time
Preparing meals for your pets ahead of time can benefit you in several ways. Firstly, it reduces any potential cramming and panic at feeding time. If your pet has dietary restrictions, you don’t have to prep for this on the fly. By pre-planning meals, you are able to be more conscious of what you put in your pet’s bowl and ensure that what you are feeding them is right for their particular needs.
Secondly, pre-planning allows you to be more deliberate in allocating the right amount of food for your pets. This also helps with your pet’s intake – when they are used to a certain amount of food, they are able to regulate their weight better, along with reducing any tendencies they may have to overeat.
Third, pre-planning meals give you the advantage of being able to wisely budget for your food cost. Planning ahead of time will assist you in knowing when you’re about to run out of food so that you don’t leave your pets hungry.
5. Allocate feeding rooms for each pet
You can create separate feeding areas and assign each pet to their respective place, so they are conditioned to eat only in that area (perhaps at a specific time of day). For example, you can ensure your cat’s feeding area is inaccessible to the dogs, and vice versa, so that they don’t accidentally eat each other’s food. This may take some training in the beginning, but once they are properly conditioned, it will be much easier to automate the feeding process.
6. Try different elevations for feeders
If separate feeding rooms are a difficult option to introduce to your pets, you may try placing their feeding bowls on different elevated positions in the house. For example, consider putting your cat’s food in a higher place, such as on top of a cupboard, a sink, or a table. Your dog’s bowl could stay on the ground, as they aren’t usually crawling on top of furniture.
Overweight pets must also be allocated lower level feeding stations, and the more agile ones can have higher feeding positions. This helps you keep their food compartmentalized and away from one another.
7. Consider automatic feeders
If you have too many animals running around and not enough room to separate each one, there are advances in technology that could really help you in this regard. You can train your pets to work with automatic feeders, which remind your pets that it’s their time to eat. You can set these feeders up separately in the house so that each pet goes to their own feeder at their specific mealtime.
This poses a lot of advantages. For one, you can leave your pet’s food at any time during the day, and when it’s their time to feed, that’s the only time that the feeder is opened for them. This means you don’t have to prepare each meal separately for each time your pet has to be fed.
Secondly, microchip feeders detect the specific tag of each pet. If a pet goes to a feeder that is not theirs, the feeder will not open. This protects each pet’s food from the others and teaches them to only go to their respective bowls.
The best part is, you don’t have to manually feed them every single time they need to eat. This takes a load off of your shoulders, especially if you have a pack of dogs or a litter of the pups in your household.
8. Personalize your feeding items
In addition to labeling bowls, you can try color-coding them to be able to distinguish them from a distance easily. Make sure that one pet has its own set of feeders and utensils. This helps you identify who hasn’t eaten and who still needs to be given some food. Cleaning and sorting can also be assigned to a certain person in the household on a given day. It also reduces contamination from each pet – one may be sick or allergic to something, for example. Color-coding and personalizing each bowl will contain the possible allergen to another pet into the space of the pet who is the rightful consumer of that food.
9. Make any dietary changes gradual
If you plan on making dietary changes to your pet’s meals, ensure that you do it as gradually as possible. For example, if you want less feeding times and a more sizable amount of food, gradually reduce your pet’s meal size from three to two, and eventually one if necessary. The more gradual you are, the better your pet will be able to adjust. You will also be able to better regulate their moods this way and avoid any potential mood swings that can occur if their routine is suddenly disrupted.
This really emphasizes the need to have a plan from the very beginning, especially if you knew you were going to have a multi-pet household from the start. You wouldn’t have to deal with the gradual changes for each pet if a plan were in place as soon as they were adopted and have started getting used to your habits.
Adjustments should always be welcome as long as they are necessary. You also have to take into consideration your pet’s individual needs and tweak your style as you go along.
10. Avoid free-feeding your pets
It is ironic that this very easy option can complicate your life in the long run. While it sounds simple, free-feeding your pets can result in not having any control over their intake, which can lead to health complications in the future.
The best thing to do is to start with a plan and stick to it, so you are able to monitor and adjust your pets’ diets accordingly.
These are the principles of feeding a multi-pet household. It becomes much simpler when you’ve laid a solid foundation, and your pets will thank you for giving them the best nutrition possible.