Pet Advice: The Differences Between Dog and Cat Food

What Pets You Can and Can't Have at Home

In the wake of a chimpanzee attack in Stamford that has left a woman in critical condition, there is interest in what animals you can and cannot have as pets in Connecticut.

Connecticut is one of 10 states with a partial ban on private ownership of exotic animals.

Permits are required for people o have animals, including live fish, wild birds, wild mammals, reptile, amphibian or invertebrates.

State law bans people from keeping primates weighing more than 50 pounds as pets and requires owners of exotic pets to apply for a permit.

The law was changed shortly after Travis led police on a chase in Stamford in 2003.

The DEP did not seize Travis because he'd been with Herold for years, police said.

No one has applied to own a chimpanzee as a pet since the new law took effect in 2004, according to the DEP.

Congress is reviewing the Captive Primate Safety Act, which was introduced on Jan. 6. It adds monkeys, great apes and lemurs to the federal definition of “prohibited wildlife species.”

On Feb. 4, that bill went to the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife.

Potentially dangerous animals include:

Animals in the Felidae family:

- Lion
- Leopard
- Cheetah
- Jaguar
- Ocelot
- Jaguarundi cat
- Puma
- Lynx
- Bobcat

Animals in the Canidae family:

- Wolf
- Coyote

Animals in the Ursidae family:

- Black bear
- Grizzly bear
- Brown bear


- Venomous reptiles
- Alligators
- Crocodiles

Permits are not required if you qualify as a zoo or nature center.

Making Your Pet a Priority, Winter Weather or Not

HARLEM VALLEY — There’s no good way to care for a pet outside during extreme temperatures. Whether it’s during the frigid winter months or the steamy summer months doesn’t matter — pets should be kept indoors in temperatures that humans find comfortable.

But everyone knows people do let their dogs, cats and even rabbits outside, at all times of the year. Leah Hapeman, assistant animal service manager at the Dutchess County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DCSPCA), recently spoke about the best ways to ensure pets stay safe during the winter. Below is her advice, which she said should be closely followed.

“Keep them inside, seriously,” she said when asked for the number-one rule. “Let them outside to go to the bathroom and that’s it.

“If they have to be outside, they do need sufficient shelter,” she said. “Provide them with something that’s insulated and off the ground. Hay is necessary as opposed to blankets, which get wet and freeze. Hay doesn’t absorb water, which is important. If it’s a dog house or igloo, have a flap over the top so weather can’t get into it.”

Beware that drinking water provided to dogs and cats in the winter time freezes, as does pet food. Also, be careful of materials used outdoors, like the salt used to melt ice — it’s toxic to pets. Salt can also get into animals’ paws and be very irritating and uncomfortable. There are products on the market like Safe Paw, which are supposed to be safe for pets but still melt ice.

Hapeman said dogs and cats with short fur, or hair instead of fur, are more susceptible to the elements than an animal with a heavy coat of fur. Also, if you’re cold, they’re cold. Keep this in mind for rabbits in outdoor hutches, too.

“This is a cold winter. I have to say this is probably one of the coldest weather winters that we’ve had in quite a while,” Hapeman said. “I can tell by the freezing of the water being sprayed back in our kennels.

“Doesn’t everybody want to be inside where it’s warm?” she asked. “If it’s cold for you, it’s cold for them. And dogs can keep us warm, too [when they snuggle with you].”

And while she said that cats can usually find shelter when outside, it’s best that indoor shelter be provided for them. In fact, they gravitate to dangerous locales, including under the hoods of cars. So do squirrels, chipmunks, mice and other animals in the wild. It’s advised that during winter time drivers tap the hood of the car a couple of times to make sure no animals are huddled near the engine, trying to stay warm.

“They get right up in there,” Hapeman said. “Cats are contortionists, so pound on your car once or twice.”

Another important tip to keep in mind: Keep antifreeze out of reach. Both cats and dogs are attracted to the toxic liquid, which is fatal when consumed. Also make sure pets don’t lick their paws after walking on salted sidewalks or driveways.

It’s not only humane to properly care for animals, it’s the law. The DCSPCA has a humane law enforcement division that arrests and helps prosecute those who neglect and abuse their animals.

If people are uncertain of how to care for their pets, they should contact the DCSPCA. The shelter, which is a no-kill shelter located in Hyde Park, provides igloos and a pet pantry. Hapeman noted that animals eat more in the winter as it takes more energy for their bodies to stay warm. This is especially true for older and smaller animals.

If a stray animal is found, call the shelter. An appointment is needed to bring in a stray.

Right now the DCSPCA has about 250 cats and 70 dogs — winter is considered a slow time of year for the agency. Hapeman urges those considering animal adoption to think carefully of the responsibilities attached to the move, as it’s a lifetime commitment.

“It’s not an impulse decision,” she said, adding that possible owners should start by doing some research. “Every puppy grows into a dog and every kitten grows into a cat.”

Most of all, she recommends that those looking to get a pet support a shelter, not a pet store, which perpetuates the business of puppy mills. Those mills keep the mothers in confined spaces and breed dogs until they’re no longer able to, at which time they’re euthanized. The puppies are often sick and stuck in store windows. Many of the dogs at the shelters originally came from pet stores.

“Unfortunately, a lot of people are oblivious to what goes on,” Hapeman said, adding that the shelters also get a lot of purebreds, if that’s what people are looking for.

Meanwhile, it’s key to think about your pets in all types of conditions. Their needs are pretty simple to understand, Hapeman said.

“Basically it’s a lot of common sense, but unfortunately you can’t teach common sense,” she said. “But if people have any problems or concerns, they should call their local shelter. We’re here to help everybody.”

The Dutchess County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals can be reached at 845-452-SPCA (7722). The agency’s Web site is Its address is 636 Violet Ave., Hyde Park, NY 12538.

It's Not Spite That Has Dog in the Garbage
BY MARC MORRONE Special to Newsday

Q My dog is extremely spiteful, and every day he tips over the garbage can when I am at work. He does it on purpose because he always looks guilty when I come home from work. Plus, he never does it on the weekends when we are home. What should I do?

- Bob Hughes,


A The idea that the dog is spreading this trash around your home to make you angry is not a possible scenario. He is only doing it because he has the time to do it, and the garbage is made available to him. Dogs live only for the moment and do not have the cognitive skills for spiteful behavior. The reason the dog looks guilty is because every time you come home from work and see the trash spread around, you scold him. The dog soon comes to anticipate this. On the weekends you are home, and there is more activity in the house. The dog doesn't have the opportunity to take advantage of the trash toy. Lock up the trash before you leave the house, and put out busy toys for him to play with, such as a Kong toy stuffed with low-calorie treats.

Q I have been reading that cats do much better on a canned diet than a dry food diet. Why did the cats that I kept 40 years ago on dry cat food seem in much better shape than the cats I keep now?

- Hans Klaasen, Babylon

A Actually the pet foods of today, both dry and canned, are of a superior quality than those of our youth. Thirty years ago, our cats were outside all day doing what comes naturally to cats. One of these natural behaviors was to kill and eat small native songbirds and rodents. In catching these creatures, the cats got a great deal of exercise, and being outside in the sunlight helped their health. So, even though we left dry food out for them to eat, they were still able to supplement the processed food diet with the meat from prey animals. Today, cats cannot be left outside all day to wander, as the world is a more dangerous place. Keeping this in mind, feed your cat a premium grain-free canned food twice a day, and it should show an improvement in its health and condition.

When you first take the cat off the dry food, it is going to act ravenous and will be begging to eat all the time. It's best to feed it as much canned food as it wants. As time goes on and your cat's metabolism adjusts to this natural way of eating, you will find that the amount of food needed to satisfy its hunger will decrease. As an added bonus, you will find you may not need to clean the litter box as often, because cats on a canned-food diet have smaller stools.

Q The salesperson in the pet store I frequent told me I should feed my freshwater fish every other day, but the can of fish food I have says I should feed them two or three times a day. Which is correct?

- Jessie Enfante, Oceanside

A Actually both. In a perfect world, fish like to eat little meals all through the day, and that is why the fish food can says to feed them this way.

Most people, however, tend to put too much food in their tanks; thus, the uneaten food will decompose and foul the water. The tank environment must be kept as pristine as possible. This is why the fish keeper told you to feed them every other day,

It is a rare occurrence for a fish to starve to death. If you can, it is always better to watch the fish feeding, and if any food is able to drift down to the bottom of the tank, then you put too much in.

Q My two small children want a small, furry rodent-type pet. I am confused as to what would be a better choice, two hamsters or two gerbils.

- Beth Ferront, Huntington

A It all depends on if you want to give each child a cage. If this is the case, then two hamsters in their own cages would be better. Hamsters are solitary animals and prefer to live alone. However, if you want to keep both pets in the same cage, then two gerbils would be better. They are social animals that need to be kept with others of their own kind.

Q We have a very active dog who likes to chase squirrels every time he sees them in our backyard. My children want us to adopt their class guinea pig. How can we convince our dog that the guinea pig is not in the same classification as the squirrels in our backyard?

- Winsome Williams,

Jamaica, Queens

A When introducing your dog to the new guinea pig, the key is not to let the dog have the opportunity to chase the guinea pig at all. If the dog does not get the chance to do this, then it will never think it is an option. The guinea pig cage must be kept up and out of the dog's reach at first. When you first introduce them to each other, you must be holding the guinea pig securely, or have it in its cage, and somebody else must be holding the dog. Allow the dog to look at and smell the guinea pig from a distance so it can get the answers about the guinea pig that only the dog's nose can tell. If every encounter the dog has with the guinea pig is like this for the first few weeks, the dog could dismiss the new pet as not worth wasting its time.

But, no matter how cute they may look together, never let a prey animal interact with a predatory animal without supervision. Accidents can and do happen. Keep the guinea pig in its cage when you are not with it.

Save 5% on Pet Supplies Orders Over $75

Dog Etiquette Tips to Help Dog Owners
By Amy Clear -

Making sure our canine companions mind their manners at home and in public is our responsibility as pet parents. By observing these guidelines, you and your dog will avoid unsafe and unsavory situations.

The following tips offer basic principles for dog and owner etiquette.

At Home
• For the safety and security of your dog, neighbors and passersby, your unsupervised dog should always stay on your property. If your dog is left alone, keep him in a safe location where he can neither do harm nor be harmed.
• Encourage your dog to toilet in designated areas. If he leaves a mess on your neighbor’s lawn, clean it up right away.
• Do not allow your dog to bark uncontrollably at or jump on visitors.
• If your dog is a nuisance barker, keep him indoors when you’re not at home. If he barks when you are at home, learn ways to manage his barking to help you enjoy a quieter home.
• Keep your dog off of tables or countertops where food is prepared or served. Besides the risk of his getting sick from eating foods that are not good for him (such as chocolate), you run the risk of picking up germs his paws may have left behind.

In Public
• Keep your dog under control when outdoors by keeping him on a leash or under voice control. Even if your dog is off leash in an approved area, supervise his whereabouts and behavior at all times.
• Always supervise your dog when around children. If you are unable to watch him, put him in his crate or another safe place away from the children. Children are three times more likely than adults to be bitten by a dog (of any breed); kids under the age of 15 are the most at risk of being bitten.
• Pick up after your dog. Keep clean-up bags with you at all times for doggy messes, no matter where they occur.
• If you have a dog that drools, keep a towel handy to clean up his slobber on people or things.
• When meeting hikers or runners on a trail, step to the side to give them space to get by you.
• Make sure your dog is invited by the host before bringing him to a party, an outdoor gathering or even a picnic.
• Supervise greetings between your dog and another dog or a person:
o Even if your dog is very friendly, do not let him approach every person you meet. Not everyone likes or is comfortable with dogs.
o When meeting a stranger, avoid putting tension on the leash, which may put your dog on alert to be wary. Keep an eye on your dog’s body language, but stay relaxed.
o If a stranger wants to pet your dog, tell him to let your dog approach him, rather than having him approach your dog.
o If your dog seems uncomfortable with greeting another dog or person, never force the meeting. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Practicing proper dog etiquette is always appreciated by everyone you and your dog encounter. Not only does it make you and your dog look good, but neighbors and guests will more readily enjoy his company knowing you have your dog under control.

© Copyright 2009 Bark Busters USA All Rights Reserved

Bark Busters and WXII takes no responsibility for injuries incurred to you or your dog as the result of the training information presented here.

Respect and Celebrate Your Pet During Its Golden Years
By DR. TRACY ACOSTA - McClatchy Newspapers

A pet's life is never long enough for those of us who love him or her. However, barring disease or trauma, today a pet can live at least an average of 10-12 quality years due to advances in nutrition and medical care.

Of course, there are many pets that live well past 12 years depending on the animal type. Older pets have different veterinary and nutritional needs and can benefit greatly from specialized care, health testing and dietary planning. The following tips will hopefully help you keep your senior pet in good shape over the years. So, with good genes and excellent care, you can be sure that your pet's life will be a long and happy one.

Pets start to enter their golden years about age 7. Giant breed dogs enter this stage even earlier, because of their shorter life span. This classification is based on the principle that pets on average age seven times faster than humans, which in turn means that most pets at age 7 are considered as senior or geriatric.

With age, your pet will probably start to slow down, and the aches and pains are often unavoidable. Your pet's joints may be a bit creakier, and he may not tear through the house at his old rate of speed, moving instead at a more dignified pace. Diseases associated with aging are more easily identified if you report small changes in appearance and behavior to your veterinarian or if you take your pet in for checkups twice a year after reaching the age of 7. So, as with your own human health, prevention is paramount when it comes to the health of your older pet.

Besides just having a thorough physical exam to check your pet for stiffness, heart murmurs, bad breath, skin lesions and other typical signs of aging, a geriatric exam usually includes blood work, urinalysis and other diagnostic tests to determine the status of your pet's organs' functions and body chemistries. These tests can help identify diseases in their earliest and most treatable stages. Your veterinarian may also ask if you have seen signs of disorientation or other behavioral changes and may recommend lifestyle changes such as a different diet, an increase in exercise or minimizing stress by creating a more stable routine.

So, if you have an older pet that has been living in comfort his or her whole life, here are a few extra things you can still do to make life easier as he or she ages:

1. Make sure your pet's bedding is extra comfy. Those old bones need warmth and cushioning more than ever. Choose a bed that best fits your pet's needs. Make sure that the bedding is also washable to account for the possibility of incontinence issues.

2. Make it easier for your pet to get up and down from the furniture, if that is allowed. By providing a ramp or steps up to your sofa or bed, you can lessen the likelihood of a fall. Some pets may also need to be carried up and down stairs both inside and outside of the house.

3. Give your pet plenty of opportunities to go out to eliminate. The aging bladder may not have the holding capacity of its younger years, so spare your pet the embarrassment of having an accident in the house. Take your pet out several times throughout the day and do not scold him, if an accident does happen.

4. Provide mental and physical stimulation. Just because your pet is older does not mean that he or she won't still enjoy a fun game or a short walk. Exercise maintains muscle tone, enhances circulation, promotes digestion and helps maintain a proper weight.

5. Keep brushing those teeth. Dental disease is often the scourge of many older pets. It is critical for your pet's overall health to maintain good oral hygiene. Professional teeth cleaning by your veterinarian has been proven to extend older pets' lives by at least one to two years. Who wants their furry companion panting the breath of Godzilla on them anyway?

6. Maintain regular at home and professional grooming throughout your pet's entire life. Just as with dental care, grooming cannot be ignored. For those pets who required professional grooming early in life, the importance of proper grooming is of utmost importance for good health. For example, even the simple tasks of plucking ears and nail trims tremendously help to maintain the quality of an older pet's life. Also, grooming associated with the face, feet and fanny of a pet can provide optimum hygiene in these critical areas on an aging pet. Plus, for those who have their pets professionally groomed, you can see the pick me up it provides to your pet, just as a human feels better after a day at the spa.

All of these suggestions are aimed at allowing you and your geriatric pet companion to live life to the fullest and to enjoy these precious moments. As a veterinarian, I ask that you not give up or ignore your pet just because he turns 10 years old. Your pet may be just reaching the prime of his life, seriously. Just look at the dog Stump, the Sussex spaniel who won the Westminster Dog Show at the ripe "old" age of 10 last week. Trust me; older pets are worth every bit of effort because the return to you as the owner is nothing less than priceless.

(Dr. Tracy Acosta is a veterinarian at Biloxi Animal Hospital. For questions on this column call 896-8255 or toll free at 1-866-450-8255 or write to South Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association, 20005 Pineville Road, Long Beach MS 39560 and include a self-addressed stamped envelope.)

Deal of the Week 120x60
AmeriMark Direct is a leading direct marketer of women's apparel, shoes, name-brand cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry, watches, accessories, and health-related merchandise.

Dangerous Animals and Criminal Liability
by Dan Jaffe, Law Practice Examiner

We are humans, but we like to play god. From childhood we are exposed to stories about friendly animals. From Noah's Ark, to the Lion King to Tarzan and the Jungle Book, we project onto animals human qualities and characteristics. Even the most seemingly benign house pet, a dog or a cat, can potentially be dangerous or deadly, and in our rational thoughts we know it.

Knowing the dangers of keeping dangerous and unconventional pets does not stop many people from keeping them. People keep deadly snakes, spiders, alligators and chimpanzees as pets. They consider the pet's aggressive and natural animal behavior to be a human-like mood.

The law in most states provides for liability, both criminal and civil for negligently keeping dangerous animals which then hurt or kill people. The chimpanzee case in Connecticut is only the latest example. With a chimpanzee it should be obvious. Just as it should have been in the case of Diane Whipple who was killed by pet dogs as she tried to enter her San Francisco apartment in 2001. The owners of the dogs that killed Whipple were charged with murder.

Should the same fate await Sandra Herold, the owner of the renegade pet chimpanzee that police had to shoot after it ripped Herold's friend's face off? Not an easy question from a legal standpoint.

Herold allegedly admitted to drugging her chimp with Xanax, a drug that can cause aggression in humans. The chimp did not have a prescription for the drug. If proven to be true, it may be possible for prosecutors to charge Herold with a serious felony. Hopefully the chimp's victim, who is reported to be in critical condition after a marathon of surgeries, lives.

Presumably, police and prosecutors will want to consult with the victim before they decide which, if any, charges to pursue.

This case should serve as another warning for people who keep animals that should be wild. No matter how human like they seem, they are still animals, and the dangers of keeping them, along with your potential criminal liability, should be carefully considered.

Midwest Floods Cause Stray Cat Baby Boom
By Amy Lieberman -

Thousands of homes and residential areas were ravished last spring in the Midwest Floods; yet the wake of destruction has created an exploding stray cat population. Now one organization is stepping forward, hoping a mass spay/neuter program will counteract "Midwest Floods cause stray cat baby boom."

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- The heavy flooding that ravished Cedar Rapids, among other Iowa cities, last spring have since receded, leaving destroyed homes and torn lives in their wake.

The city was hit hard by swelling rivers and, on June 12, 2008, suffered the effects of a broken levee. Eight months later, rescue efforts continue to unfold in the region; no one, an animal welfare organization is saying, should get left behind in the mix.

That includes cats -- and not just a few common strays, but thousands of both feral and tame felines that have established their own community in desolate parts of eastern Iowa.

"Cedar Rapids was just devastated from the flooding," said Lynn Zimba, co-founder of the Iowa Humane Alliance, a nonprofit organization based in Coralville, Iowa. "Iowa got hit hard in general."

At this point, Oakville, a city nearly two hours south of Cedar Rapids, "actually has more cats living there now than people," Zimba said of the town which had 439 residents as of the 2000 U.S. census.

In order to benefit animal welfare and public health alike, the Iowa Humane Alliance is now embarking on an ambitious project: to round up all the strays within a 100-mile radius of eastern Iowa and spay/neuter them, potentially calling an end to stray feline overpopulation in the region.

Kicking the Problem to the Curb

The organization presented its formal plan to the city of Cedar Rapids on Tuesday evening, and after gaining informal governmental support, is hoping to launch their project as soon as possible.

Around 50 citizens, as well as several council members, participated in the forum, Blount said.

"They [the city] seemed to appreciate that it was a group of citizens coming forward to propose a solution, rather than just to complain," Blount said.

"We will work with the city to find out when certain areas will be demolished and plan rescues around that. This is what we were hoping for."

The project, which may or may not receive city funding, is an elaborate scheme, which will counter the traditional measures of adoption or euthanasia in lessening the stray population.

"We are trying to be proactive rather than reactive," Zimba said. "This [spaying and neutering] will stop putting all of taxpayer's money into rounding up and killing animals. This plan will spay and neuter the animals, provide them with food, water and shelter, and reduce the public health risk, eventually. With time, these animals will live out their lives."

Iowa's widespread production of grain and corn has always encouraged the steady growth of stray populations, Zimba explains.

"We are the leading corn producer in the nation and there are a lot of grains around," she said. "Where there are rodents, there are cats."

Following last spring's widespread flooding, however, the stray population skyrocketed, given the accessibility of deserted homes and shelter. Domestic cats were also left behind by their owners when they were evacuated from their homes.

The Iowa Humane Alliance doesn't have an exact number of how many stray cats roam the streets -- Zimba approximates, however, that any square mile in Iowa can host around 50 to 100 felines.

"There are hundreds of thousands of animals out there," she said.

The organization's plan is simple: They would catch the animals in live traps, then utilize their connections with local willing veterinarians to fix them all. Previously domesticated cats would try to be paired with their owners.

"We have received a lot of letters and calls from people looking for their cats," said Mary Blount, the organization's program director. "We would then work to match these cats up with their original owners."

Trying to adopt all of the animals out would not likely yield the desired results, Zimba says, noting that there is only "a certain number of people that want pets and are willing to adopt." Placing all of the cats into shelters would boost intake rates, but could overwhelm the facilities, which might then turn to euthanasia as a solution.

"The only way to reduce intake is to reduce the number of animals that are actually being born," Blount said.

If the plan works, the curbed population would stand to benefit the surrounding human community, as well, the Iowa Humane Alliance argues.

"There are people coming from the Health Department who have given us positive reviews," Blount said. "This could lead to a decrease in a risk of rabies, parasites, cat fights, that kind of thing."

Since its inception last year, the Iowa Humane Alliance has raised around $10,000, which has mostly gone toward basic start-up fees.

The organization has also performed routine spay/neuter procedures on around 200 stray cats, but the volume is not significant enough to actually matter, Blount says.

Those procedures have been conducted by a Jenny Doll, DVM, who runs a nonprofit, Witty Kitties, that facilitates rescue and medical services for special needs cats. Doll is able to conduct around 30 to 35 spay/neuter procedures a day, Blount says. Up until a year-and-a-half ago, she did so from her mobile van, which later broke down.

Now, the Humane Alliance also relies on other local veterinarians, but the problem is, as Blount explains, "the procedures can be very expensive."

Just as costly, however, is failing to moderate the shifting tide of the stray community, the organization's leaders say.

Tracking the Ebb and Flow

The Iowa Humane Alliance states that it is imperative to develop the resources to monitor stray communities and track "newcomers" that join the population.

"It's a matter of getting more done. We need a higher volume to see the effects of a population dropping; we would need to get about 70 percent of the cats fixed for this to really happen," Blount said.

"New cats get dropped off and show up, and if you don't follow and continue to spay and neuter, eventually the population rebuilds."

According to Zimba, in the meantime, the organization will continue to focus on accumulating donations from private individuals and other organizations -- this money would ideally go toward an actual facility, where the spay/neuter procedures could be deducted.

Establishing an actual place to call their own is one of the Iowa Humane Alliance's major goals -- but their overarching, simplified mission is to just "stop the killing," Zimba said.

Anywhere between six and eight million stray animals are killed each year, she said, quoting from statistics gathered by the Humane Society of the United States.

The Iowa Humane Alliance's plan might only decrease that number by several hundred thousand, and the project could take years to prove influential and effective. Yet, improvement on any level is a necessary step in curbing the stray overpopulation problem the state faces, the nonprofit's organizers say.

"We want a program that is sustainable, one that will continue to have lasting effects," Blount said. "This could take time, but it would be worth it."

Tell us what you think about "Midwest Floods Cause Stray Cat Baby Boom" below. Share your favorite videos by clicking on the ZootooTV tab. Send us your story ideas by e-mailing us at or by calling us at 877-777-4204.

Cat and Dog Food Differences Explained
By Jennifer Viegas -

The differences between cat and dog eating habits are perhaps best illustrated by this rather inelegant experiment. Drop a piece of meat on your kitchen floor in front of your cat and a friendly dog. "The cat will likely sniff and paw at the meat before ultimately rejecting it," says pet nutritionist Hilary Watson. "The dog probably won't even give the cat this chance, as it will have gulped down the food in no time."

Watson, who has over 20 years of experience in pet food formulation and quality assurance, explains that all felines suffer from neophobia, or a fear of new things. "As self-reliant predators in the wild, eating something foreign could mean unexpected illness or worse," she says, adding that "cats are also carnivores, while dogs are omnivores." Here are more reasons not to feed dog food to your cat.

Cats have higher protein requirements than dogs do According to Dr. Allan Paul, small animal extension veterinarian at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine at Urbana, cats use ample protein as a direct energy source. Watson agrees: "Cat food contains greater than 30 percent protein, while dog food contains around 20 to 25 percent protein." The difference might seem minimal, but your cat needs that extra protein to satisfy its energy requirements.

Cats need taurine An essential amino acid, taurine is found only in animal tissues, such as fish, beef and poultry. Cats cannot synthesize this compound, so they must get it from a meat source. If they don't consume enough taurine, a multitude of health problems can result, including hair loss, tooth decay, heart troubles and retina degeneration that may lead to blindness. In fact, Dr. Paul says scientists first noticed the cat eye-taurine link after felines that were exclusively fed dog chow became blind. The Association of American Feed Control Officials now requires that taurine be included in all wet and dry cat foods. The amount should be no less than 0.1 percent in dry foods.

Vitamin A is critical for cats Yet another essential component of cat food is vitamin A. "Dogs can convert beta carotene into vitamin A," says Watson. Beta-carotene, a precursor to the vitamin, is visible as the red-orange pigment abundant in certain plants and fruits. Canines and people can therefore eat a carrot and receive a good daily dose of vitamin A, but cats must consume the vitamin from meat sources.

Felines require arachidonic acid and more niacin Dogs have two choices in getting their needed amount of arachidonic acid, which is a necessary fatty acid. They can receive it directly through meat, or they can synthesize it using linoleic acid, which is abundant in many vegetable oils, such as sunflower and safflower oils. Cats again have just the one choice, Dr. Paul says, and that's meat. Watson adds that cats need more niacin than dogs do, too.

Taste and texture Have you noticed that many cat food commercials show beautiful cats delicately licking their food? This is in contrast to images of frisky dogs gobbling down chow with glee. As it turns out, there is some truth to the stereotypes, Watson suggests. "So long as it's formulated correctly, dog food can look like slop and a canine will wolf it down," she says. "Cats are much more tuned into texture."

Felines also prefer meaty, salty tastes, as opposed to sweets. Cats additionally seem to go for a somewhat mysterious basic taste known as "umami." It refers to savory foods with a lot of body. Japanese chefs even sometimes describe umami as "the deliciousness factor."

Higher up on the food chain Your kitty's choosiness stems from its position on the food chain, Watson believes. She explains that herbivores - plant-eating animals -- are at the base of the food heap. Next up are omnivores, including dogs and humans, which can eat the herbivores and some carnivores, as well as plants.

As true carnivores, cats exist at the top of the food chain. "Carnivores eat some omnivores," Watson says. That's one reason why large, wild cats, such as lions and tigers, take a swipe at humans from time to time.

Thankfully, domesticated house cats prefer smaller prey, as in the tasty canned and packaged vittles you can provide. While sweet and loveable, kitty is a very sophisticated predator for which only the best cat consumables will do.

Dear Inquisitive Canine: Why Is Leashed Dog So Aggressive?
By Joan Mayer - Noozhawks

Normally friendly dog goes bonkers when other dogs pass by.

Dear Inquisitive Canine,

I have taken my dog to the dog park numerous times and he is great with other dogs. However, if he passes other dogs while walking on a leash, he tries to bound after them and acts as if he is going to attack. I know he wouldn’t actually harm another dog, but it really scares other dog owners. Why is he so bad on a leash?

–– Chief’s mom

Joan Mayer and her sidekick, PonchoDear Chief’s Mom,

Ah yes, leashes: “The ties that bind.” It’s unfortunate that these innocent little safety devices can create what appears to be a Jekyll and Hyde reaction. I do appreciate you being a law-abiding responsible dog owner by using one, even though it causes you, and it seems Chief, some distress.

First I’ll address the “why.’’ Then I’ll provide some training tips and techniques for making walks more enjoyable ... for both of you.

When it comes to leashes, dogs weren’t born knowing how to be walked on one, and we humans weren’t born knowing how to use them. Normal behavior for dogs includes wanting to meet, greet, and /or sniff every other dog, person or tree. It’s nice to be that excited about everything, isn’t it? Unfortunately, we aren’t able to stop and greet or sniff every other dog, person or tree.

This is where the term barrier frustration enters the picture. It’s when something, in this case the leash, prevents Chief from getting to what he wants, often resulting (inadvertently) in this disturbing reaction. This impulsive “I want it, I want it now! I must meet that other dog!” response inadvertently gets punished, because as Mick Jagger says, “you can’t always get what you want.’’

Over time, with each on-leash walking episode, this frustration builds and builds and builds, and gets to the point where the mere sight of another dog triggers this reaction. Chief now associates other dogs with frustration. And we’re all familiar with feelings of frustration –– similar to sitting in a traffic jam when you’re late. Imagine that every time you take a drive you end up stuck in traffic. What do you think would happen over time? Can you say road rage?

Regardless of the “why,’’ the solution is the same: ask Chief to do something else. Something that’s fun, rewarding, and what will soon become the better, more desirable choice when out walking.

Two behaviors I find that work well are 1) “Watch me” –– Chief makes eye contact with you and he gets a treat; and 2) “Find it” –– where you toss a treat on the ground right in front of him, thus keeping his head focused somewhere else while having him “hunt,’’ an activity many dogs enjoy. Note: Both of these behaviors are done while you’re walking past the other dogs.

I suggest you take his meals on the road, but instead of using his regular kibble, use something he’s more likely to do back-flips for. This way Chief is more likely to pay attention to you, and not bark and lunge at the end of the leash.

You’ll only want to do this when other dogs are around. With consistency, Chief will start to associate other dogs with fun for him, turning frustration into happiness. The next thing you know, he’ll be looking at dogs and looking right at you. Or, better yet, he’ll be asking you to go for walkies in search of other dogs, and isn’t that better than what he’s doing now?

Dear Inquisitive Canine is written by Joan Mayer and her trusty sidekick, Poncho. Joan is a certified pet dog trainer and dog behavior counselor. Her column is known for its simple common-sense approach to dog training and behavior, as well as its entertaining insight into implementing proven techniques that reward both owner and dog. Joan is also the founder of The Inquisitive Canine, where her love-of-dog training approach highlights the importance of understanding canine behavior. If you or your dog have questions about behavior, training or life with each other, e-mail

Click here to visit The EZ Online Shopping Network of Stores

No comments: