See also: Pet Diet Chart
Hunters have it easy - we don't have to feed our pets or clean up after them. There are good reasons to keep some pet food handy, though! (But no reason at all to buy a litter box.)
Feeding your pet is a great way to heal it - fast!
There are other ways to heal your pet, of course, including. The big one is the hunter skill Mend Pet.
But Mend Pet only restores 25% of your pet's total health over 10 seconds while Feed Pet restores 50% of its health instantly. So feeding your pet is a much faster health boost - assuming you are out of combat.
(Curious about what happened to the old happiness system? Check out the question further down this FAQ: "What happened to happiness?")
In order to feed your pet you will need to learn the skill Feed Pet.
Feed Pet is a hunter skill that you can learn from your trainer at level 10.
After you learn Feed Pet you can find it in your Spellbook on the Beast Mastery tab. The icon looks like a bone-shaped doggie biscuit.
You can feed your pet in one of two ways:
If your pet accepts the food, it will snap up the tidbit with an animation and a happy growl. If it doesn't want the food for some reason, you'll see an error message explaining the problem.
Each pet family has different types of foods that it will eat, like meat or fruit or bread.
You can find out what types of food your pet will eat by looking at the Pet tab of your Character Info panel. Beast Lore will also tell you a beast's diet. Or check out our handy Pet Diet Chart.
The level of food is also important: it determines whether or not your pet will eat the food you offer. Your pet will refuse to eat food that is too low level! So it's a good idea to use food that is close to or above the level of your pet.
Unfortunately the game doesn't tell you directly the type of a food or its level. But it's usually not too hard to figure out: Roasted Quail is meat, Dwarven Mild is cheese, Tel'Abim Bananas are fruit.
Figuring out the level of a food is a little more complicated, so we'll talk more about that later.
If you aren't certain about a particular food, try it out! There is no penalty for trying to feed your pet the wrong food.
Pets won't eat food that is 30 or more levels below them. Example: A level 80 bear will refuse to eat a Goldenbark Apple, even though bears normally like fruit, because the apple is only level 35.
In short: Feed your pet food that is at or above its level.
Unfortunately, the game doesn't show food's level. But it will often tell you the level that your character must be to eat that food.
Level requirements on food don't apply to pets, but the required level for a food is almost always 10 levels less than the food's actual level.
For example, Smoked Talbuk Venison requires that the character be level 55 to eat it. So it is safe to assume that it is a level 65 food.
If you want to know the levels of your foods exactly, there are a number of UI addons that display that information. Or you can check a WoW database site like Wowhead.
Note: Pets don't care about the level requirement on food - a level 10 pet can eat level 80 food - but pets don't get any extra benefit from higher level food.
Unlike player characters, pets do not benefit from normal food buffs. The food that buffs characters does not buff pets at all.
There are, however, some special 'pet snacks' that are meant specifically for pets (and which don't affect player characters).
At the present time, these pet snacks do not actually apply a buff. They either heal your pet or increase its happiness (which is no longer useful since the happiness system was removed in Patch 4.1).
For reference, those snacks are:
Note: Pet snacks aren't really pet foods. You don't feed them to your pet using the Feed Pet skill. Instead, you use the snack yourself and the effect is applied to your pet.
Petopia highly recommend's Gazmik Fizzwidget's Feed-O-Matic add-on for all your pet feeding needs.
Before Patch 4.1, feeding your pet did not heal it. Instead, feeding increased your pet's happiness. A happy pet did more 25% damage than a content pet, and an unhappy pet did 25% less damage than a content pet.
Back then, you could also use several pet talents and one glyph to help keep your pet happy. When the happiness system was removed in Patch 4.1, those talents and the glyph changed to remove the happiness effects in the following ways: