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My Pet World: The easiest solution for a dog that eats out of another dog’s bowl

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Dear Cathy,

I have two dogs, a Scottie, who is 12 years old, and a Westie, who is 2-1/2. When I feed them, the Westie does not eat until the Scottie tries to eat the Westie's food. I have to hover over the younger dog's food to ensure the Scottie doesn't eat it.

Sometimes, the younger dog gets distracted and doesn't eat her food right away, and the Scottie eats it. The Scottie is somewhat overweight, so eating from both bowls is not good. The younger dog is not interested in eating in her crate.

— Elizabeth, Norfolk, Virginia

Dear Elizabeth,

With dogs, there often is a pecking order in who eats first. It sounds like the Scottie is the alpha dog in the relationship, so the Westie waits for the Scottie to finish before starting his meal. The problem is, the Scottie moves in before the Westie is ready to eat and gobbles it all up. There are a few solutions to this problem.

First, you can continue to monitor them while eating. Many pet owners must do this if there is a pet in the house with an insatiable appetite.

Second, you can feed them in separate locations. This can be in different rooms or crates. I know you said the younger dog is not interested in eating in her crate, but this is unusual. Dogs usually eat wherever and whenever food is placed in front of them. If your Westie is not interested in the food, try a different dog food, or mix a more pungent wet food or a few treats to tempt her. If it's genuinely inappetence (lack of appetite), your vet may prescribe some medication to stimulate her appetite again.

Finally, if the Westie is healthy and no inappetence medication is recommended, then the easiest solution is to purchase automatic feeders for each of them. With automatic feeders, the Scottie can stand in front of the Westie's food bowl all day long, and the feeder won't open. The feeder is connected to a dog's microchip, so it will only open when your Westie stands in front of the one you programmed for him. These automatic feeders can cost between $50 and $140 each, but they are worth it when an insatiable eater is in the house.

Dear Cathy,

We know our 13-year-old female spayed Australian Cattle dog is having hearing issues. She starts vocalizing, backing up, and barking as an attention-getter right after 5 p.m. and continues throughout the evening until well after our bedtime. This behavior lasts until we take her outside. She always urinates or at least acts like she is urinating. She has an affinity for sunflower seeds under the bird feeder and bunny poop, which may add to her desire to go outside. She'll come in and be good for two to three hours, then the vocalizing starts again. Both our dogs go out at midnight, 3 a.m., and between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. After that, she acts normal until 5 p.m. that day.

She was diagnosed with early Cushing's disease and is on Prion® for incontinence, which has resolved. Both dogs drink a fair amount of water, and I don't want to deny water or trips outside. She isn't totally deaf, but the hearing loss is noticeable. Wondering if that is a contributing factor and if there may be some doggy dementia. What is going on?

— Keith, Winneconne, Wisconsin

Dear Keith,

It's not unusual for a dog's activity to increase in the evening, especially if its owner has been working all day. My dog naps during the day but is excited and barks a lot in the evening to get my attention and me to play with him. It’s also not unusual for a dog with hearing problems to bark more. The medication also may cause increased thirst, which results in more requests to go outside, and restlessness, which sounds a little like what you are describing. So, you may be dealing with several things here.

Since the barking in the evening occurs around the time she needs to out again, there may be a correlation between the medicine and her evening behaviors. Talk to your vet about what’s going on and ask if the medicine could be causing any of these behaviors or the increased frequency that has you up at 3 a.m. to let them outside. Maybe if the medication is administered at a different time of the day, it can help reduce her evening vocalizations and restlessness.

(Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to cathy@petpundit.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.)

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