When you have one or two pets, it’s not too difficult to manage what you feed them if they have special requirements. But when you have many, mealtime can get pretty confusing, especially when the pets are excitedly awaiting their food!
Many senior dogs will have specific dietary requirements due to health issues. One may need a sensitive stomach food while another might have allergies. The more dogs you have at the sanctuary, the more you’ll need to have a system to remember who gets what.
Here at FLFO, Peanut has itchy skin so he eats a chicken-free and grain-free diet. And he has a tendency to get a little “chunky” because he has a big appetite so we add some green beans to his food. Abner tried the same food as Peanut but it made him thirsty so he gets dry chicken and rice kibble, soaked for 15 minutes, with some wet food mixed in. Lacie is the picky eater of the bunch. She may or may not eat in the morning. She gets the same as Abner, without soaking the dry food and with just a little bit of wet food mixed in. Both Peanut and Lacie get avocado oil added to their breakfast to help their skin. Abner cannot tolerate the extra oil. We have all of this written on a whiteboard on the refrigerator just so we don’t forget.
We are still small and manageable. Imagine how big sanctuaries handle this task! Oh yeah, one more thing, Peanut eats in literally seconds, barely chewing his food. That means he hovers around the other two, waiting to pounce if they don’t finish (which Lacie usually does). We have to be vigilant to be sure Peanut does not eat the others’ food, not just because it’s rude and it will make him fat, but because he has dietary restrictions. We cannot turn our backs for a second. He’s quick!
That’s mealtime. What about treats? If pets have special dietary needs, that needs to be considered when feeding treats. Most popular grocery store brand treats such as Milkbone are grain-based, not to mention have
a lot of unhealthy additives. We steer away from anything that is not all-natural, and everyone gets the same kind of treats to make things easier here. We make our own treats from sweet potatoes. The dogs love the crunch because we slow-dry them in the oven. They’re also easy to hide in the snufflemat to keep the dogs entertained.
What system do you use if you have multiple pets?