As people, sometimes our eating habits and body weight fluctuate during the summer. Usually this can be attributed to increases or decreases in our activity level or caloric intake. These changes can also happen to our pets. Warmer weather sometimes brings with it a need to feed your pet more or less food to meet their nutrition needs. Here’s your guide to your pet’s diet and nutrition during the summer!
The Science Behind Yearly Changes in Appetite
Fluctuations in your pet’s appetite throughout the year are totally normal! In fact, these changes in appetite have been noticed by other pet owners. While many studies haven’t been conducted on the matter, what little research has been done suggests that changes in daylight and temperature affect appetite.
English and French scientists determined that appetite in felines seems to decrease during the summer. One study on yearly fluctuations in appetite found that indoor and outdoor cats eat the most during January, February, October, November and December. In the study, those same cats ate the least amount of food in June, July and August. It should be noted that the researchers studied too small a population of cats to find statistically significant results. This means more research needs to be done before we know for sure how the months affect appetite. However, these initial findings are promising until further research is carried out.
Does Your Pet Need to Eat More or Less During the Summer?
It’s always a good idea to pay close attention to your pet’s diet. This goes for all year long — not just during the summer. That being said, seasonal changes in temperature and hours of daylight have been known to affect hormone levels in mammals. This can alter metabolism. In other words, it changes how much food an animal needs to eat to stay healthy.
Whether or not you need to alter your pet’s diet during the summer will depend on if you notice any changes in their activity level and weight. Cats and dogs who do nothing but sleep in the air conditioning all summer might need to actually eat less this time of year. On the other hand, pets that are more active — playing in the yard or going on long walks — might need to eat more during the summer.
You also need to keep tabs on your pet’s weight. There are ways to tell if your pet is getting overweight or underweight. First, ask your vet what the ideal weight range is for your pet. This can vary from pet to pet, so your vet knows best — not some online calculator. Your vet can talk to you about best feeding practices and whether your pet should be eating more or less. They can also talk to you about switching up what type of food you give your pet. Your vet may even recommend a food specifically for weight loss. In general, you shouldn’t be able to see your pet’s ribs. However, if you press lightly on their torso, you should be able to easily feel these bones. You shouldn’t have to dig through layers of fat.
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