A reader asks Dr Platzhund on what to do to keep her pets from stealing food from each other without having to supervise them during meals.
Q: I have three dogs and two cats and they steal one another’s food. I have to supervise them, which is inconvenient. Is there anything I can do to stop the food pinching, without having to watch them?
A: Cats and dogs are predators and show active or passive food dominance. Active food dominance is when one animal devours another’s food. Passive food dominance is when the top dog or cat interferes with the other animals while they’re eating their food. To solve food aggression, feed your cats in a separate room from the dogs with the door shut, and vice versa. Offer them the correct amount of food according to their ideal weight. After 20 minutes, remove the food bowls. This will help stabilise your animals’ weight. Continue this routine for each feeding. Leaving bowls of food out all day defeats the purpose of responsible nutrition as your animals will pick at one another’s food. Not all pets can regulate their food intake, hence the high incidence of obesity, diabetes, pancreatitis and other conditions developing from being overweight. When there’s free access to food all day you may never know when your pet is sick. Set meals offering the right amount of food saves money and you become the ‘top dog’, as your pets will associate you with the most valuable activity in their lives – food.