Healthspan March 16, 2018

From pets with a ravenous appetite to those who hide away from their dinner, research shows that emotional turmoil may be to blame. If you notice changes to your pet’s eating habits be sure to consider whether there might be any underlying factors.

Feeling stressed

Rather like we might want to crack open a tub of ice cream when we’re feeling down in the dumps, pets also use food as a coping mechanism. Overeating can be a response to stress so it is important for owners not to offer food in abundance as pets may not know when to stop. Triggers for stress-induced emotional eating can include boredom, anxiety and depression. As well as ensuring you’re not overfeeding consider ways in which you can help to perk up their mood such as playing with them, more exercise or simply spending more time with them.

Happy & satisfied

On the flip side it is also thought that pets may overeat when they’re emotionally content. We’re often guilty of loving our pets so much that we share everything with them including our dinner and this tends to be a big cause of overeating. A diet with too much fat or too many snacks can lead to obesity. Rather than putting them on a diet so strict they become unhappy and even hungrier, consider whether you’re feeding them the best food complete with all the nutrients they need and carefully measure portion sizes according to guidelines.

When they’re not eating

It is not only important to monitor overeating but also when your pet is undereating. Don’t worry if your pet is simply eating less than the guidelines on food packaging as these are only averages. It could however be time to get this looked into if they display a complete loss of appetite or change their habits significantly. Loss of appetite can be a symptom of illness so veterinary care is step number one. Once this is ruled out assess what else might be influencing them such as stressful situations like travel, unfamiliar surroundings or anxiety.

Top tips

  • Always read the feeding guidelines on your pet’s food
  • Monitor your pet’s weight
  • Consult a vet if you notice any changes in their eating habits
  • Be knowledgeable on what foods can be harmful for them including chocolate, avocado and coffee

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

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