The Urge to Eat Pet Food
Your kids might never put their fists into the dog dish or pop a piece of cat food into their mouths, but the urge to eat pet food is very common especially among toddlers. Eating pet food can be quite tempting to the inquisitive minds of young children. In fact, many of us have a childhood memory of just such a curiosity ourselves, contemplating our pet’s food dish and wondering what exactly the stuff our beloved animals consume each day tastes like. Whether or not we gave in to that urge, the thought was still there. Why? What is the allure of pet food to children?
Curiosity Caught the KidKids are curious …especially in the toddler stages of their existence. Most toddlers are so interested in what family members are putting in their mouths that this often stretches to the furry folk in your household. It can be quite a struggle to keep their attention from turning to the cat food bowl or the doggy dish. The stronger a connection your kids have with their pets, the more likely it is that the urge to try pet food will be there. As hard as it may be, try not to react too strongly when you catch your kids with their hands in the pet food bowls. Cringing in horror and disgust can really increase the allure of the forbidden, drawing kids to further their investigations into the world of pet food to discover what it is that is so bad about eating the stuff their beloved pet consumes on a regular basis. Try to downplay this scenario and divert your toddler’s attention instead until you can get the pet food away.
Dealing With the Dog’s DishStopping kids from eating the cat’s food is a problem that’s fairly easy to solve by simply moving the dish to somewhere out of reach but still accessible to your pet. Unless your cat is quite old, you should be able to accomplish this with little difficulty. But dog food is a different story since most dogs and puppies are lacking the leaping powers of the average cat. There are some safety issues around dog food dishes and children as well, one of the ground rules that should be set in your home is the dog dish is an off limit area. Even the most mild mannered of canines may have an issue with another ‘pack member’ digging into his food bowl, which he considers both his territory and also his lifeline to survival. Many dog bite scenarios in the home revolve around the food dish area so talk about the dangers of making the dog angry by going into his food bowl.
Curbing the ConsumptionIf moving the food dish is not an option, curb the pet food eating by only feeding enough for one sitting at a time, keeping your children occupied until your pets are done eating. Don’t leave bags of food out in the open, transfer to containers that you can easily child proof stops the prying hands of inquisitive kids from getting into the food and has the added benefit of keeping pet food fresher for a longer period of time. If your kids are old enough to understand, you can try explaining the special dietary needs of pets and how humans are built to process food differently than animals. Talk about how a person trying to live off pet food would eventually become quite sick from lack of the proper nutrients. This is also a great time to explain why table feeding certain human foods can make animals quite sick as well.
And as funny as the situation may seem to you, try not to laugh at your kid’s antics as this only encourages further pet food dining experiences!