DEAR JOAN: Could you settle an argument between me and my mom?
She has two dogs and two cats. The dogs are medium sized, but otherwise a real mix of breeds. They are very friendly dogs, but they eat everything they can get into, and because they were eating the cats’ food, Mom decided to just feed all the pets the same food.
Because the dogs aren’t picky and will eat anything, she buys a big bag of cat food and tries to keep the dishes full.
I don’t think she should be giving the dogs cat food, plus I think they are getting too much food. Both are turning into roly-polies.
Am I right? Should she be giving the cats and dogs their own food?
Andrea C., Santa Clara
DEAR ANDREA: One of the first things I learned upon reaching the age of maturity is that our mothers are always right. Except in this case, your mom isn’t.
Cats and dogs are not just versions of the same animal. They are as different as, well, cats and dogs. Each animal has its own set of nutritional needs, and even if your mom was feeding them food she had prepared herself, she’d have to modify their diets to fit those needs. Feeding them commercial foods is even more problematic because the food manufacturer already takes into account what dogs and cats separately need, and has added it into the formula.
Dogs are more omnivore than carnivore, and they need a mix of proteins, grains and vegetables to balance out their diets. On the other paw, cats need mostly protein. Commercial cat food is heavy on meats, and the maker also adds in taurine, an amino acid, and arachidonic, a fatty acid, two things that cats need but can’t produce themselves. Dogs can produce them, so don’t need the extras in their foods.
Don’t think she can just flip the script and start feeding them all dog food. For one, the cats probably won’t stand for it, and two, dog food won’t supply the nutrients that cats need.
The other problem with how your mom is handling the situation is that the dogs are getting way too much food, which also is high in calories. The cats probably are getting shortchanged in this deal as dogs often want to hog it all.
Your mom needs to start buying both cat and dog foods, feeding them in separate areas, and limiting the amount of food the dogs are getting.
Do you have a bird nest on your door wreath or in an odd place on your patio? How about some little ducklings swimming in your pond? Maybe some birds that enjoy taking a bath while the squirrels work on getting onto the bird feeders?
All these are signs of spring, and that’s exactly what I’m looking for. Every month we pick a topic and ask readers to send in their photos. I then build a slideshow of the pictures. This month, we’re celebrating spring with all the images that acknowledge the warming weather, new birth and rebirth.
To submit your pictures, you can upload them on the Pet Pal Connection page, or email them to me. I need jpgs, and if you can include your name and a few details of the picture, I’d appreciate it. Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and put “spring fling” in the subject line.
Who’s going to tell mom she’s feeding her dogs the wrong food?