Two horses, three hay piles. One dog, two bowls. Three cats, four plates.

A simple action could support a pet's ability to digest its meal and feel good for the rest of the day.

Are you a pet lover with a dog, cat or other pet, interested in natural feeding processes for optimal digestion?  There may be an experiment to help support and maintain your pet's digestive energy.  This blog post suggests a way of feeding.   


I feed two rescued horses daily.  They receive a flake of hay in the morning and evening.  In the evening, each horse also receives a bowl of grain with supplements.  The flakes of hay are divided and placed in a total of three to four stacks in the area where the two horses usually eat.  Each horse begins eating at the closest stack.  After a while, one horse chooses to move to another area and eat.  The other horse may notice this and stay where he/she was eating or choose to move to the stack that was left, and so on.  This way of feeding helps duplicate the natural act of grazing and foraging.  The constant in this process is the horses are given choices of where they want to eat, how long they stay there, and what they do next.  Grain bowls at night are given to each horse.  Each stands and eats the grain bowl until that's gone.  Then each moves to a stack of hay.  

Some horses are closed in stalls or kept in circumstances where twice daily feeding in the same way, day after day, occurs.  They may be turned out into a field to graze once daily or on occasion.  Horses are grazing and foraging animals.  Duplicating the way horses naturally eat could help maintain both active and calm digestive energy.  It seems to work for my horses. 

Dogs and Cats ...

Ever considered putting out two feeding areas for your one dog?  A bowl of water seems singular.  Dividing your dog's meal into two portions and placing one bowl in an area and the other bowl not far away, but far enough for the dog to see and understand the need to walk to the other bowl to finish a meal, may produce the same digestive energy result I've observed with horses.  Giving your dog a choice and supporting your dog's energy to be both active and calm may contribute to optimal digestion.  A brisk 15-minute walk before meals with your dog may also help boost and harmonize energy to be active and ready to receive food for optimal digestion - human and pet!

For several years, I've fed three cats - placing four plates of food down in their eating area.  Each cat accepts a plate of food and begins eating.  One additional plate of food is placed in the area.   One cat eventually moves to the fourth open plate.  Another cat then notices the open plate that was left, not fully eaten yet, and goes to that plate.  It is an interesting cooperative eating experience among one male and two females, intermixed with a natural expression of dominance now and then among the three.  (One of the females is a dominant cat.)  Sometimes, one cat stays at one plate and eats the entire meal.  The other two cats will exchange places and continue to eat.  Eventually, all of the food is eaten and the cats have moved around, keeping their digestive energy calm and active, with an air of familiarity and cooperation.  

Most animals, like humans, look forward to meal time.  How we provide meals could contribute to balanced digestion.  An experiment with hay, bowl and plate placement, over time, led me to continue this as a regular practice.      

(These suggestions are offered from animal rescue and rehab experience and  experience in acupuncture and traditional Oriental medicine, working with health and harmony of human energy systems.)  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Olivia January 23, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Also, cats are "obligate carnivores." My cat doesn't digest cat kibble well, so I feed her lean meat. She's an indoor cat, so does not have the opportunity for outdoor or indoor hunting. It is amazing how much more energetic she is after she's dined on a small portion of raw, lean lamb. I guess it doesn't swell up in her digestive tract like kibble does? Vets were never able to figure out why she could not keep kibble down, but since altering her diet, she quite rarely become ill after breakfast.
Susan Kirks January 23, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Thanks for this comment. I realize individual animals have different food needs. I didn't address that in the blog post for the process of feeding. It's an art to develop the best food types to match one's pet, that's for certain. And if there's more than one to feed, observing and developing the best food types for the individuals and group are surely part of that!


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