Simple Tips to Make The Most Out of Your Pets Mealtime

When your pets mealtime rolls around, many pet parents follow a similar routine: scoop out the food, put the food in a bowl, place the bowl on the floor, and let Fido or Boots have at it. The entire process is usually over in a matter of minutes.

But what if feeding time was more than just a meal? Lots of pet parents use their pet’s dinner hour as an opportunity to teach or reinforce commands. Others use stuffed puzzle toys to slow down speed eaters, provide mental stimulation, zap energy, and satiate their pet’s prey drive.

So how can you make the most of your pet’s mealtime? Read on to learn some tips.

Tip #1: Turn Mealtime Into Training Time

Pets MealTime

Many pet parents think that training should only happen at a designated time, and that the only appropriate reward for a job well done is a special treat. In reality, training can happen anywhere at any time, and a hungry pet will usually respond just as well to their normal food as they will to a delicacy.

You can feed your pet their entire meal by hand while teaching or reinforcing commands like sit, stay, lie down, and heel. When your pet performs, offer them a few pieces of kibble. For safety commands that you really want to reinforce (like come and “watch me”), offer a larger handful (this is sometimes referred to as a “jackpot”).

Training your pet with their food not only reinforces important commands and stretches out feeding time (which can help with digestion), it also provides your pet with daily mental stimulation, which can improve their behavior.

RELATED STORY: Teaching Your Dog Basic Commands

Tip #2: Stuff Puzzle Toys With Your Pet’s Portion

Puzzle toys come in all shapes and sizes. Some are complex games and others look like regular toys, but have small openings where treats or food can be stuffed. You can also make your own puzzle toy at home; for example, a tennis ball with a flap cut into it.

Puzzle toys make your pet problem solve in order to reach a treat or food. Some puzzle games require a pet to move game pieces around to release a morsel. Other puzzle toys simply need to be dropped, nudged, or swatted to shake a piece of food free.

Feeding your pet their food using puzzle toys not only slows down eating and extends meal time (some pets are occupied for 20 minutes or more!), it also provides mental stimulation, a bit of exercise, and will satisfy a pet’s desire to “hunt” for their food.

If your have a large dog or large cat who eats large portions, you can buy or make several puzzle toys and divide the portion between them.

Leave a comment and let us know how you make the most of your pet’s mealtime! 

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6 Smart Tips to Help Your Pet Lose Weight

We know that change can often be a bitter pill to swallow, but the silver lining? All of these adjustments are fairly simple, and if you are able to successfully implement them, you might end up dropping some pant sizes as well.

Here are 6 simple pet weight loss tips to get started.

1. Talk to your vet about finding the right low-cal food

Many of your run of the mill dog foods contain tons of fillers, and a dearth of nutrients, meaning a change in diet can often be a big first step in losing weight. However, when it comes to diet, there is not one catch all answer to every problem. Pets come in such a wide array of shapes and sizes that finding the right food for them is a matter of understanding their specific needs. Contact your vet to find out what food suits your dog best.

RELATED STORY: Your Dog Food Questions Answered

2. Serve up the pet chow with a measuring cup

Arguably the simplest weight loss change you could ever make, rather than using a scoop or a plastic cup to dish out your pet’s dinner, use a measuring cup to help monitor the exact amount you feed them per meal. Overfeeding is one of the leading causes of obesity in pets. Check the label on the side of the bag and make sure to dole out the recommended serving size and no more.

3. Veggies > treats

Next time you are tempted to give your pet a biscuit, why not give them a baby carrot instead? Or how about a little broccoli? Even an apple is a good substitute for those high carb, high calorie treats. Just make sure you know what veggies are safe for dogs and cats before giving them anything from the crisper drawer.

4. 20 extra minutes of daily play time

If your pet is overweight, chances are it is more than just a dietary problem. So however long you normally play with your pet, add an extra 20 minutes to that time every day. Play a little fetch or some tug of war — anything to get your pet moving and burning up some of those extra calories.

5. Add a couple blocks to your walk

Another simple and effective way to help your dog burn off some of their extra weight is to make their daily walk a few feet longer. Depending on how big your dog is, adding as little as one extra block to their daily walk can end up making a big difference.

6. Weekly weigh-ins

If you really want to help your pet lose weight, it helps to be able to track your progress. With a weekly weight in, you are better able to understand what is working for them, where you need to step it up, and how far you have come.

What Do You Think?

Got any pet weight loss tips of your own? Share them with us in the comments section! We would love to hear from you.

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