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Dr. Bruce
Dr. Bruce, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 19291
Experience:  15 years of experience as a small animal veterinarian
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Our family dog, a mix of Chihuahua and Russel Terrier, is a

Customer Question

Our family dog, a mix of Chihuahua and Jack Russel Terrier, is a healthy, active and happy 10 year old. From the time we acquired her as a puppy until now she always had kibble available to her as she eats small amounts a few times a day and does not over eat.
The argument I have with my family started when we recently had a mouse problem in the house. The exposed dish of kibble was part of the problem and so a "Wonder Bowl" was purchased online that kept the bowl covered with a lid that would automatically open when the dog approached the bowl with an electronic fob on her collar. We left the lid open for a few weeks to get the dog used to eating from this bowl which she did. However, when we now close the lid the get rid of the mice, she is terrified of the lid opening automatically and will not eat from the bowl even when we did not feed her otherwise and she was very hungry. Our vet then said we need to re-train her to eat meals twice a day and only to put her bowl of food down for 10 minutes each time.
My family has been doing that this past week and although the training does not seem to have altered her disposition I am very in tune to this dog and can see she misses eating in the middle of the day as she still eats small amounts at the twice a day feedings.
I strongly feel that after 10 years of eating whenever she was hungry, that this is wrong and unfair to the dog. This is the first time my family and I have argued vehemently over this issue and is a constant source of anguish for me.
Your advice would be most appreciated.
Thank you.
Doris Leeds
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 1 year ago.

Hi Doris. Welcome to Just Answer. My name is***** Thank you for your question. The great debate of free feeding versus meal feeding. Honestly, you're going to find strong proponents on both side of this fence. There are definitely dogs out there that can manage their food intake well when they have the opportunity to free feed. If food is out all the time and the dog isn't overfeeding / getting overweight, then they are managing caloric intake on their own. These dogs have the ability to make free feeding an option. The down side to free feeding with a great deal of dogs is that they can't self limit and they will overindulge and start to put on weight. From a pure overall health aspect, this isn't in their best long term interest. So if a dog can limit themselves, then I don't have a problem with free feeding. It is a little harder to monitor if an appetite is going down with free feeding, but an aware owner can still monitor this.

Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 1 year ago.

As far as the "mouse" problem, a consideration here is using mouse traps and such to eliminate them. I caution using the actual poison baits as they have a way of getting into the non desired animals in the house by accident. I like to use the actual physical spring traps as they do a very effective job without the risk of poisoning.