Pet Eating Tips
Understanding eating problems
Eating: what is normal?
Most dogs love their food and will gladly eat everything put in front of them. With these dogs, we have to be careful not to overfeed. Smaller dogs tend to be more picky, as do cats.
Young animals should be exposed to different types of foods to encourage them to eat healthily. Your pet's diet should depend on their age (puppy vs adult vs senior) and their health.
Pets love treats but too many can result in obesity, so use treats sparingly. Instead food can be placed inside food-releasing toys to encourage your animals to 'hunt' and to encourage activity.
Drinking: what is normal?
Animals need a fresh supply of water every day. More than one water source is ideal, in case one dries up or gets knocked over. If your pet eats wet food, they may not drink a lot of water.
Cats tend not to like water poured from the tap, perhaps because this contains chemicals. They enjoy filtered water or water they source around your home e.g. shower, or garden.
Eating unusual items
Eating non-edible items, or Pica, is a common behaviour problem in Oriental cats, suggesting a genetic origin, and is also seen in cats that are weaned too early. Cats may eat a whole variety of substances including rubber, electrical cords but it most commonly involves fabric ingestion and/or chewing. Pica can be serious as it can lead to gastric obstructions.
Eating poo, or copraphagia, is a dog (very much unwanted by owners) behaviour, often in dogs who have been kennelled with little to do.
Solutions for eating problems
- Try mixing the preferred food with the one you would rather your pet was eating. Then gradually increase the proportion of the desired choice.
- Warm wet (canned) food up a little or add a few drops of warm water to the dry food. This helps release the aromas and flavours.
- Feed food by hand while training your pet. This make eating fun.
- Try hiding food for your pet to find or use food-releasing toys to make eating fun.
- Remember that cats prefer food at room temperature and they like to nibble regularly whereas dogs will tend to wolf down everything at once.
Tips for pets who eat unwanted items
- Talk to your vet about your pet's nutrition.
- Keep your home and garden tidy, removing all potentially chewable items.
- Offer your pet something tastier to leave the inedible item alone.
- Ensure your pet has enough occupying activities, so they do not need to continually search for items to eat.
- Give your pet food-releasing toys to satisfy their need to hunt and eat.
Pets who eat too much
- Feed less or make your pet move more. Monitor their weight.
- Have a vet check to ensure there is not a physiological reason for the weight gain.
- Use a weight control diet or add bulking agents e.g. carrot to your dog's food.
- Make your pet hunt for their food by hiding it or using food-releasing toys.