How Often Should Your Pet Eat?
How Often Should Your Pet Eat? The Answer May Surprise You
Did You Know That Most Pet Feeding Schedules Are Contrary to the Nature of Dogs and Cats and Often Create Obesity and Other Serious Diseases?
Dr. Mercola asked Dr. Royal about intermittent fasting for pets. Do they really need to eat every six to eight hours every day of their lives? In his experience with humans and fasting, he feels we need to expose our physiology to periods of no food, just as our ancestors did.
Dr. Royal replied that pets can be fasted. She has clients that tell her they feed their dog four times a day. That means not only that the animal’s GI tract never gets rested, but also that the dog will eat every time he’s fed, and because of his scavenger nature, he’ll still act hungry all the time.
Also, in my experience, too many cat owners feed their pets an all-day, all-they-can-eat buffet -- but kitties are designed to hunt a mouse, kill the mouse, eat the mouse, and then fast. They’re not repeating that process every 15 minutes. Providing them with food to eat 24/7 means they’ll be eating around the clock – not because they’re hungry, but because the food is sitting there in front of them. They learn to “graze” as if they are herbivores – ruminants – instead of carnivores. They snack constantly, usually on inappropriate food (kibble). Feeding inappropriate foods at inappropriate times over a lifetime can create tremendous metabolic stress.
The digestive tract needs to rest, and as Dr. Mercola points out, this is something very few people appreciate about themselves or their pets.
I have clients tell me I’m the very first vet to ever tell them not to free-feed their cat. And in fact, other vets actually recommend free-feeding. So it’s no wonder it’s difficult for pet owners to wrap their minds around the fact that cats and dogs were not meant to eat all day, every day.
Dr. Royal agrees and adds that we’re creating obesity, GI problems and so many other health issues. Clients actually believe chronic diarrhea is just “normal” for their pet. Is it normal to expect every Labrador to be obese and arthritic? Is it normal to expect half of all male cats to have urinary blockages that are life-threatening? We just accept all these health problems now in our pets as “normal,” in part because we have the same or similar health issues. We just assume they’re a fact of life. But illness is not “normal.”
Dr. Royal adds that another blind spot is with pet obesity. She’ll mention to a client that his pet is overweight, and he’ll say, “Oh, no, my veterinarian… my friends… my groomer… everybody says my pet is not fat.” Meanwhile, she has just classified the animal as obese, and the owner is absolutely shocked.
She feels it’s important to be gentle but direct in informing clients they are creating obesity in their pet. A too-heavy dog or cat develops terrible metabolic problems – thyroid disease, adrenal stress, GI disorders. These are all the same things that occur in humans.