Five common pet food problems
Picture: Thinkstock

Expert tips to tackle some of the most common animal dietary issues.


Problem: The fussy dog

"If your dog puts its nose up in the air at their food and walks away with disinterest, remove the bowl the moment they walk off, returning the bowl an hour or two later for another feeding opportunity," Kathy Kopellis McLeod, certified dog consultant and trainer at Kathy's Dog Training, said.

"Repeat the process even if your dog goes without for the night and avoid cracking under the pressure of their 'sad face'."


Problem: The lactose-intolerant cat

"Many adult cats are in fact lactose intolerant, and even those that aren't have reduced ability to digest lactose - the sugar in milk," Cat Haven vet Tony Pusey said.

"Bacteria in the intestinal tract will ferment the undigested lactose, leading to intestinal upsets and often diarrhoea.

"Most adult cats are intolerant of dairy to a degree so it's simply best to not feed cats dairy at all."


Problem: Greedy eaters

"If your dog devours its food in way less time that it takes you to prepare it for them, break the meal into half a dozen feeding opportunities where your dog offers a behaviour in exchange for a portion," Ms McLeod said.

"Alternatively, gently hand-feed your dog and sporadically include obedience exercises to fast-track their training."


Problem: Your cat thinks it's a dog

"It's not uncommon for cats to fancy their canine friend's meals as well as their own, however feeding cats on dog food can have serious health consequences like blindness and death," Mr Pusey said.

"Dog foods are higher in carbohydrates, lower in fats and contain insufficient levels of essential amino acids for cats' requirements.

"They need high protein and fat and in the wild would eat very, very little carbohydrate, which cause intestinal upset and may lead to obesity and diabetes.

"Feed your cat and your dog separately and prevent your cat having any access to dog food."


Problem: The bone-loving dog

"Never feed your dog cooked bones as these can splinter and cause internal damage or become an intestinal obstruction," RSPCA WA chief executive David van Ooran said.

"One or two raw meaty bones each week can include lamb ribs (not lamb chops), lamb flaps and chicken wings large enough so that the dog cannot fit the whole bone in its mouth or swallow the bone whole.

"Avoid large marrowbones (these have very thick outer rims), T-bones, chop bones and bones sawn lengthwise because dogs may crack their teeth on these."

The West Australian

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