This week Lemmy, the littlest four legged member of the family, turned 3 months old. The week before marked another important milestone in his doggy life- he had his second vaccination. Fully protected against some of the nastier doggy diseases, it was time to venture out into the big wide world.
He loved it! He is such a confident little puppy, and incredibly active. For his first official walk I decided on a short lap of Broadhaven boardwalk, which takes about 20 minutes.
As we set off from the car park, Lemmy caught the eye of a bunch of walkers, heading in the opposite direction to us. One of the group was particularly enamoured with Lem, and stopped to say hello. Not a problem. Lem is very friendly, and I am keen to safely socialise him as much as possible. However, this gentleman took a step too far. He bent down to Lemmy and asked’Want one of these, little fella?’, offering some sort of food item that he had produced from his pocket. Lemmy is a ganet, and the proffered treat was snaffled up immediately.
‘No, sorry, he doesn’t want that, thanks very much’. I managed to hook the treat out – a rather large adult dog treat- before he had the chance to chomp it down
Now why did I do that? Surely the man was only being kind? Prehaps he was. But there are several reasons why you shouldn’t feed other peoples animals.
- Diet matters- Lemmy has never had treats. He has been on the same dry food diet since he was weaned from his mother. How boring?! Not at all. Dogs don’t see food in the same way we do- they don’t become bored of eating the same thing everyday. In fact, it is important not to chop and change food. Sudden changes in diet can lead to an upset tummy, with diarrhoea and even vomiting. But this wasn’t a change in his diet, it was a single treat- why does that matter? A single treat can be all it takes to trigger a runny tummy. And that is something I really would rather avoid!
- Size matters- Lemmy is a puppy, and still only small. He still has all his baby teeth. He can’t cope with large biscuits or treats, and there is the potential that these could become lodged in his mouth or throat. Not good!
- Calorie counting- Lemmy is given the exact amount of food he requires everyday. His dry food is measured, to the weight advised by the manufacturers for his age and size, and split into three meals. He doesn’t need extra food. Extra food (and yes, a single treat counts as extra) can lead to weight gain. Carrying extra weight is no fun for people or animals. It can lead to arthritis and joint problems, as well as putting strain on the heart and lungs. Again, something I’d rather avoid.
There are other reasons why you shouldn’t offer food to other peoples pets, without the permission of the owner first.
- Some animals have specific dietary requirements. A dog or cat may be diabetic, suffering from kidney disease or Inflammatory Bowel Disease. They may even have food allergies or intolerances. These pets need to be on special diets, with their owners often having to be extremely careful when it comes to what their animals eat. A small piece of the wrong food could lead to a lot of problems for an animal with one of these conditions.
- Pancreatitis is another illness that can be triggered by food. The pancreas is an organ that helps with digestion of food. In cases of pancreatitis, the pancreas becomes irritated and inflamed, resulting in over production of digestive enzymes. This can be incredibly painful for cats and dogs, and can lead to them requiring a trip to the vets. In some cases it may need surgery, and can even be fatal. All this from eating or being fed something they shouldn’t have.
So, although the gentleman we met on our walk probably thought he was being kind to Lemmy, he wasn’t doing him any favours. Next time I hope he thinks twice , or at the very least asks, before feeding someone else’s pet.