What you should feed your pet. When I answer this one I get a lot of arguments and flak for my responses but here I go again anyway. As a pet owner the ultimate decision is yours, please make it responsibly. With any pet I highly reccomend doing research and consulting with a trusted vet. I realize that everyone has a different budget so do your best for you and your pets. Most Importantly Do Not Feed Your Pet People Food!
Cats. Cats are Carnivores, meat eaters. With dry food meat should be in the top two ingrediants. Whole meat is best, avoid meat byproduct if possible. Do not feed your cats dry food with corn or grain as a first ingrediant and avoid anything with ash in it.. Wet food is a pet peeve of mine. The pet industry has convinced a lot of owners that cats need wet food all the time. Kittens and elderly cats should have wet food. consult your vet about how much to feed your cats, Do Not rely on what the package/can tells you it's usually too much! Also beware vets who want you to purchase food from them, they are usually getting kickbacks from that food company. The healthiest food is not always the most expensive. We feed our cats Eukanuba. Just like humans an overweight cat is not living a quality life. Every extra 2 pounds on your cat is approximately like ten on us. A cat 6 pounds overweight is like a human 30 pounds overweight. Cat treats are another easy way to make your cat too fat. I feed my cats tarter control crunchy treats once a week. For a daily treat they get dried fish flakes specifically for cats. Fish flakes are high in Omega 3's good for their fur and overall health. As always beware portion sizes. Catnip is great for digestion so be sure to include a little loose catnip or fresh plant in your cats life. Cat grass is usually chewed to help with hairballs and it's normal for them to vomit it up after eating it. Limit their exposure to grass to once or twice a week, especially if you have an indoor cat. Brush your cat weekly to limit hairballs and show some love. Unless directed by a vet or infested with fleas Do Not Bathe your cat, they do it themselves, over bathing can cause permanent skin conditions. All cats like stimulation, however, if you have an overweight cat play time is extremely important. Take the time to make your chubby furball run around twice a day for at least 15-20 minutes. There is nothing better than a kitty cat purr.
Dogs. Dogs are omnivores. Dogs eat both meat and vegetation. Follow all the above food suggestions for your dog but make sure they get a balance of meat and veggies and some grains. Large and small dogs have different requirements so be sure to consult your vet. Dogs will eat grass and occassionally vomit it up if they eat too much. Some dogs have an obsession with grass and too much vomiting can be harmfull. take time to train your dog not to eat everything. Out of all pets dogs seem to get the most "people food treats", Yes they like it, but you are shortening their life if you over indulge in this practice. If you insist on feeding them people food keep it limited to once a week or when traveling but avoid processed foods and sugar. Dogs need companionship and a challenge be sure to incorporate long walks, training, and a lot of love in their life. A bored dog is a depressed or destructive dog. Unlike cats, dogs need regular grooming. If your dog is overweight you might be too; check out this great article http://spencerhowson.blogspot.com/2012/06/bmag-june-5th-2012-swap-it.html Most of all respect your dog and remember you are the pack leader, not your dog.
Birds & Reptiles: Birds and reptiles have a huge scope of food and care requirements please consult a specialist for proper care and feeding. there is far to much variety for me to cover it all in a blog. if you have specific questions send me an email and I'll get you an answer.
Other Pets: A lot of people have exotic pets or farm animals. My plea to you is please make sure they are legal pets! Pet laws vary by state and country, sometimes even by county or city. Be informed. Put your pet first. Do not own an illegal pet and Never Make a Pet Out Of A Wild Animal unless you are licenced to do so.
Homemade Pet Food: A natural choice to processed pet food is homemade. This does not mean cooking up people food and sticking it on a plate. It means getting a proper recipe for your type of pet and assembling it with proper ingrediants and supplements. Simply cooking plain chicken or steak, or scrambling an egg leads to a nutritionaly deficient diet that will ultimately harm your pet. Consult your vet for good recipies.
WILDLIFE: Should you feed wildlife? The choice is yours. Here is some information and some guidelines to help you make a responsible choice. There have been many debates about whether to feed wildlife or not. Studies have shown that wildlife fed by humans only get about 12% of their daily diet from them. If the human food suddenly ceased the wildlife would still survive. Exceptions to this are National Parks and public areas. Only feed wildlife in your own backyard. Know your species. Are they herbavores? omnivores?, carnivores? insectivores? babies or adults? Feed proper food made for their type. Do Not Feed an herbavore meat (catfood & dogfood count as meat). When feeding wildlife see if you are adding nutrition or empty fillers, corn and bread are empty fillers. Avoid Salt, processed human foods, and unatural things to their diet. consult an expert if you are unsure. You want to help not hurt. Different species have different digestive abilities. Just because they "like it" does not make it good for them.
The Best thing you can do for all wildlife is to provide a clean water source.
When Not To Feed Wildlife: Never Feed A Carnivore! Do not put out food if an animal has to travel across a road or into an unnatural city situation. If the lure of easy food can get them killed it is NOT worth it. Do not feed birds if you have outside cats that can reach the feeders. Do Not Feed People food! Please use your judgement. Do not feed wild animals out of your hands. You may think its cute but they will learn people mean food. Wildlife who associate all people with food usually end up dead! Please put them first. Appreciate from a distance and with a camera not your hands. As with anything use good judgement and put wildlife before your own desires.
Important Health Factors About Wildlife: Almost all wildlife can carry some form of disease or parasite. mammals carry fleas and ticks, both of which can jump 6 feet and can live for days before hopping onto a new host. Birds have mites (harmeless to humans but harmfull to pet birds), as well as various avian diseases (harmless to humans, harmful to some pets). Opossums have a low body temperature and are not capable of carrying rabies but they can still have fleas. Skunks can carry a harmfull parasite in their feces that is potentially deadly to humans, as well as rabies. Raccoons can carry rabies as well. These are just a few of the most common problems.
Best Things For Wildlife: Keep all your pet food indoors. Lock up ALL your pets at night. Keep your trash and recycle bins securely closed. Educate yourself and respect natures balance. The internet is a great resource but it is not always accurate. Be sure the advice is coming from an expert not a hobbiest or club. Bird experts are called Ornithologists, reptile experts are Herpitologists, etc. Be smart and put wildlife first.
What do I eat. Many people assume because I am a wildlife conservationist I am a vegan. I am a vegetarian who eats meat. Wow thats sounds contradictory! It is. What I mean is that I eat like a vegetarian the majority of the time. I do eat meat and fish a couple times a month. I eat dairy and eggs regularly. My normal week consists of 6 days pure vegetarian and one with fish or other meat. As I get older I find myself eating it less and less. When I do eat meat I know where it comes from. Beef is free range, grass fed, humanely killed. Same goes for chickens, eggs and dairy. I know where it comes from and it has to be local. Fish & seafood should be eaten sustainably & caught preferably on a single line. I live by my Seafood & Sushi Watch Guides regulary updated and provided for free by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Get yours here: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/download.aspx
I love farmers markets and fresh fruit and vegetables. I don't drink soda; my go to beverages are water, tea and coffee. My favorites change a lot so keep checking back for my newest recipe! Just like with animals, we should limit our junk too! Keep active. Keep Healthy!
This was a really long blog, it needed to be to answer some of the basic questions. Keep in mind however, it is not a complete guide, just the basics. Do your research. Be an amimal advocate! Put their health first!
Have a fabulous week and spread some knowledge! Rebecca