Animal Advocate: Resist the Temptation to Feed Others’ Pets

Jennifer Clarke
By Jennifer Clarke March 15, 2013 12:00

Jennifer ClarkeIt’s a terrible thought. You’ve just moved into a new neighborhood and decide to take a plate of cookies to a group of children playing outside. Soon an ambulance comes wailing down the street. One of the kids was allergic to your secret ingredient, peanut oil.

It certainly doesn’t make sense to feed someone else’s children without permission from the parent. Then why do so many people feel it is OK to feed someone else’s animals without asking first?

Horses along roadsides seem irresistible. Do you know that feeding apples, carrots, or grain to a horse with a metabolic disorder, such as Cushing’s disease or insulin resistance, can cause a very painful condition called laminitis? Inflammation reduces blood flow to the laminae, which are supportive tissues connecting the hoof wall to a bone in the foot.

Laminitis can lead to permanent lameness when the coffin bone in the hoof rotates downward. Some horses are on very restricted diets, and the owners should be consulted before feeding them anything.

Grass clippings from mowing the lawn are another danger to horses. Eating a lot of green grass in a short time can cause colic (digestive upset that can be life threatening), laminitis, or death. Green clippings left in a pile can ferment. Not only do they disrupt the balance of microbes in a horse’s gut, but these can also introduce botulism. Horses can also choke when gulping down clumps of clippings or pieces of apples and carrots that are too large.

Unknowingly feeding a toxic plant to livestock is another danger. A few years ago a mare in a roadside pasture had a beautiful paint foal. Passersby tried to attract the mother horse to the fence with treats to see the little one. Those presumed treats – leaves from a nearby oleander bush – proved fatal, and the foal was orphaned.

Even giving a treat to the neighborhood dog or cat that comes to your door can be dangerous. Those tasty morsels may induce pets to continue roaming. This is not desirable behavior and can be deadly if the animal gets hit by a car.

Dogs and cats can also have medical conditions that require specialized diets. Eating certain foods could be detrimental. Obesity is a major health concern for pets these days and can result in a host of related problems. Overweight dogs and cats can be diabetic, have compromised circulatory systems, and experience undo wear and tear on their joints.

We all want our animals to be as healthy as possible. You may not know the health status of a particular critter, so ask first before feeding. If you feel an animal is not being fed enough, call Animal Control so that our officers can investigate. Some thin animals are under veterinary care and are being fed appropriately for their health status.

Jennifer Clarke manages Tuolumne County Animal Control. To contact animal services by county: Tuolumne, 694-2730; Calaveras, 754-6509; Amador, 223-6378.

© 2013 Friends and Neighbors Magazine


Jennifer Clarke
By Jennifer Clarke March 15, 2013 12:00
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