Vet Hansel answers questions about pet care in this weekly advice column, created in partnership with the Bahrain Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA). It will also highlight each week some of the animals in the BSPCA sanctuary, in the hope of finding each of them a loving home.
Question: My chubby dog, Yogi, eats his food extremely fast and then tries to eat our other dog’s food. Why does he do that and what do you advise?
Answer: When feeding your dog, it is more like throwing raw chicken at an alligator, which can be frustrating and involve several potentially harmful issues.
Eating food too fast is not good for animals but it can be difficult to identify the source of “fast food” consumption.
Firstly, you need to rule out any medical conditions by taking Yogi to the vet.
Possible medical causes can include diabetes, metabolic issues and internal parasites. If a dog suffers from any of these conditions they will eat fast because they are trying to replace what is lost to the other disease or organism.
Choking is a possible side-effect of fast eating but rapid eating can also cause a medical condition that affects some animals, especially large-breed dogs, called gastric dilatation-volvulus.
The rapid eating and gulping results in excessive air, fluid and food filling the stomach, followed by swelling (dilatation) of the stomach cavity.
As the stomach expands, it can twist around on its axis (volvulus), making it impossible for anything to pass through the stomach to the intestines. This is a serious condition that needs treatment.
On the other hand, fast eating may not be caused by a medical condition.
Animals that come from an environment where they had to compete for their food can be fast eaters. Puppies can establish rapid eating because they had to compete for milk and their first foods.
Stray animals can also be fast eaters because of their intermittent contact with food and competition with other strays.
It is also worth discussing Yogi’s diet with your vet as some dogs digest certain foods better than others and Yogi may be eating fast because he is not getting enough nutrition from his food.
If no medical condition is found, try putting a big rubber ball/tennis ball in his food bowl to slow him down.
Try feeding the two dogs apart in separate rooms or tether both dogs in the room when you feed them to prevent competition over food.
There are also some “puzzle toys” that you can stuff with your dog’s meal so that he really has to work to get the food out of the toy.
Also, it may be easier to feed your dog in smaller amounts, two or three times a day if possible.
Dr Hansel is a veterinary consultant and surgeon for the BSPCA and Charis Vets. Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
BSPCA’S DOG OF THE WEEK IS DARGO
Age: Two years.
Dargo is a wonderful and very charming long-haired German Shepherd with a larger-than-life attitude and physical build to match it. He is a very well-behaved boy that adores people and is waiting for his new forever family to welcome him with open arms, in a home he can spend his days loving and protecting. Dargo is the perfect buddy to have around and is definitely a sight for sore eyes with his wonderfully long fur and stunning smiles. Dargo is also a big kid at heart that likes to play with his toys and enjoys snacking on doggy treats. Be prepared for lots of affection from this boy as he absolutely loves people and is waiting for the chance to prove his love and loyalty. Dargo is neutered, tick-treated and fully vaccinated.
BSPCA’S CAT OF THE WEEK IS MORRIS
Age: One year.
Morris is a very calm and sensitive cat that softy lets out the sweetest meow to visitors to the Cat House. He is a very warm and cuddly little guy that makes you simply want to give him a big hug when you look into his sad but beautiful eyes. Morris is amazing to have around and enhances any home environment with his unbelievably friendly nature. His presence will be a magically great addition to any home and this little gem deserves a good chance to experience the real love of a family that’ll always take care of him. Morris is neutered and fully vaccinated.
l If you are interested in adopting Dargo, Morris any of the shelter’s cats, kittens, dogs and puppies, please visit the Animal Welfare Centre in Askar. From the Alba roundabout take the road sign posted Askar and Durrat Al Bahrain and at the third signal take a right on to the truck road and after approximately 800m you will see the shelter on the right side, just before the flyover. Or, log onto the website www.bspca.org for directions. The shelter is open seven days a week from 9am to 5pm from Sundays to Thursdays and 9am to 1pm on Fridays, Saturday, and public holidays. The shelter accepts animals 24 hours a day, seven days a week.