• The Diverse Diet of Dogs (and other pets)

    Being a pet-sitter has given me the privilege of getting to know many animals as if they were my own. It has given me an insight into how individual each pet truly is, in multiple ways. One of these individual characteristics I have noticed is the eating habits of our pets. What they consume, when they eat, how they like to eat, all varies from animal to animal.

    When I was growing up, I lived in a big family out in the country. We had a rotating door of strays, plus several pets of our own. Dog food to me was the green bag of Iams, each dog got a scoop twice a day. We were fortunate to have healthy, non-fussy pets that had a simple diet. The cats got dry food as well, we just filled it when it got low. So when I started working for Pet-Agree, these more elaborate feeding regimens and varied foods were all new and fun to me!

    Some of our clients need medicine or supplements added to their foods for health reasons, others just only eat a certain way. The more complex meals make me feel like I am on some sort of cooking show (yes, the Food Network is a guilty pleasure) and many of you may have seen my "Amanda the Pet Chef" posts on the Pet-Agree Facebook page. I have drizzled olive oil on dog kibble to prevent dry skin, mixed yogurt into cat food to help a sick kitty eat, and added shredded cheese to dinners when animals miss their parents. One client makes their own homemade "dog chili" with meat and various vegetables, which gets warmed and put on their kibble in the morning and at night. I have mixed everything into dog food, from warm water, to cat food, to pumpkin pie filling, to canned veggies. Some homes with multiple dogs all eat the same food, others have different prescription foods. Some get treats after they finish, some graze throughout the entire day. Some pets eat no "dog food" at all, but instead have a varied diet of fresh veggies and meat! One of my favorites to feed is a Lab who gets cooked carrots before her breakfast, half a treat at noon, and cut-up apple after dinner, all fed to her by hand.

    And it isn't just dogs and cats that need special diets prepared. When I was caring for a skink this summer (large lizard), she was only fed every three days, but had a different meal each time. Sometimes it was canned cat food with fresh squash, other times I scrambled eggs and mixed with spinach. One I even chopped up canned snails for her! Feeding a python was also no easy task. I took rats home to put in my freezer, since they thawed only 4-6 hours before feeding. And a dish? No, you used giant metal tongs to hover the dead rat over the snake, and then tried not to jump when he lunged for it. Even birds don't just get seed. One needs to pick out his daily blueberry from the container himself!

    I love caring for all of these diverse and individualistic pets. It has taught me that animals have just as many preferences and health needs as humans, and they each have their own tastes. Plus I just love to pretend I have my own pet cooking show!