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Need Advice - Overfeeding Animals
Posted: Friday, January 6, 2012 11:24 AM
Joined: 12/28/2011
Posts: 2

My mother was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  She was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment in 2010, and has been quickly deteriorating.  In June of 2011, we had to take her driver's license.  We have three dogs at home, and up to November, she was responsible for feeding them.  We noticed that she was really overfeeding them, and had to put their food in individual containers to control the amount of food that they were getting.  That worked for a while, however, now, she is "sneaking" food and feeding the dogs.  After dinner, when we all get up to do the dishes, she will try and slide food to the dogs.  Often times at night, she will sneak food out of the fridge and feed them.  We have also found leftover hamburgers, steaks, doggie treats, cookies and other foods hidden in her bedroom.  Two of the dogs are active, but one is older and pretty sedentary.  The older one is huge, and I am concerned that she is feeding her to death.  We have tried to closely monitor and stop any extra feedings, but when we correct her, she gets angry and agitated.  Does anyone have any suggestions to stop this behavior?  We have tried hiding leftovers, and try not to keep "random foods" around that she may pick up and give to them. 


Thanks for your help!!

Posted: Friday, January 6, 2012 12:22 PM
Joined: 12/21/2011
Posts: 2431

Is she on any medications that could help her, or might be causing problems?  Does she regularly see a doctor?


Does she do any other ''odd'' things?


I think she needs more help, but might need to be moved to a care place.  You don't want her to kill the animals, and I do think it's a real danger (but, not a dog owner) for them.  But she won't be happy having them taken from her ''care.''

Posted: Friday, January 6, 2012 2:25 PM
Joined: 12/21/2011
Posts: 70

My mom has been doing the same thing for about 2 years now.  I just try to ration the dog food when I can.  We have two dogs and they don't really care about the dog food as much as they like the people food.  I will put them outside while we eat so she isn't feeding them from the table.  She will put her leftovers in her napkin and take it to the room or outside to feed the dogs.  1 is obese and 1 isn't.  They are both old dogs.  Anyway, I do what I can to stop it but I don't admonish my mom about it.  She is only trying to feed the dogs which she has always done in the past.  She doesn't know that she does it 10 times a day....  and I don't want to hurt her feelings or make her feel bad.  It's just not top priority in my mind it's the least of the issues we have in stage 6/7..
Stephanie Z
Posted: Friday, January 6, 2012 2:43 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 4218

Hi, I think TiredCindy has it right. Your mom is doing this because it is one of the things that makes her feel useful, loved by the dogs, and gives her pleasure. I found that if my dogs are used to eating dogfood A, I could use dogfood B as treats. This might work for you. Give your dogs limited amounts of their regular food and give mom a container of another brand of dry dog food, preferably one that has lots of colors and shapes.She can pick pieces out and give them as treats. That way the dogs get the right food hopefully in the right amount.


Iris L.
Posted: Saturday, January 7, 2012 2:09 AM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 16407

I feel very bad hearing stories about animals not being taken care of properly.  Animals should not have to suffer because someone has dementia.  Please, can't someone in the household monitor the dogs' care and what they get to eat?  Many brands have lower calorie dog food.

Iris L.

Posted: Saturday, January 7, 2012 8:48 AM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 48

      I too think you have to do something because it is possible to cause the death of an animal by overfeeding.  And I agree that it´s bad enough we humans have to suffer with this disease -- innocent animals should be protected.  But you can´t reason with your mother about this.  She´ll end up creating an "us" (her and the dogs) versus "them" (you all) scenario that will  only aggravate things.

     If the dogs go live with someone else she may not notice, or notice only for a few days and then forget.  If anyone could take at least that older dog, for a while, to try to get her down to a more reasonable weight, I´d suggest you do that.

       Also, if you haven´t already done so, definitely get a dog food formulated for weight control.  You´ll probably have to go to a pet store to find that.  You could try putting that food in a bowl near your mother when she´s eating and letting her give the dogs kibble as a "treat". 

     And keep those dogs exercising, you´ve got to do that.  Either with a treadmill or walking at least an hour a day, taking turns if you have to, going slow at first with the one that is not used to exercise...but get them outside.  Is there a dog park anywhere in your area where they can run?

     Is there a chance you could get her interested in playing with them rather than feeding them after dinner?  Or hiding tiny little treats around the house for the dogs to find?  Any kind of involvement other than eating.  We throw an inflatable ball back and forth for exercise, and it´s loud and crazy when the dog gets involved but, it´s good exercise for everyone!  I also got one of those balls/toys that you fill with tiny little treats and the dog paws at it until a treat falls out -- hours worth of entertainment.

    As for raiding the fridge at night to find food for the dogs, that´s a tougher problem to deal with.  It sounds as if she´s doing this when you´re all still up, right?  Not because she wanders about the house after going to bed?  If so, you´ll have to figure out a way to distract her with other activities and just be very vigilant.  You might have to consider locking the fridge.  I realize that´s a drastic measure but if things get too bad  you´ll have to choose between re-homing those dogs or watching them suffer from painful arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and other obesity-related illnesses (which can be expensive, besides being inhumane). 

     If they were gone for a while she might forget about being the one who feeds them, they might be able to come back into a different routine, with someone else responsible.  And, sadly, she may eventually get to the point where she´s no longer aware of them enough to want to feed them.   You have my sympathy, though, I know this is a tough thing to deal with!   And it´s not just people suffering from dementia, it seems like a lot of people don´t understand why it´s so bad to be constantly giving dogs extra food...good luck brainstorming!

Posted: Saturday, January 7, 2012 10:14 AM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 3964

My mom tries to do this, but what we have done is told her that anything but their regular food and they get diarhea.  So, we feed Benefil which comes in single serving packets. Then their ONLY treat that she knows about are tiny training treats from Petsmart.  These things are the size of maybe 2 peas, so they are very, very little and come in a tiny container - which limit how many mom can give to my dogs to the container.  Because they are so tiny and there is so little in the container my dogs don't gain weight.