It’s the stuff of which nightmares are made. Your best pal, Ringo, the greatest dog in the world, so clever, so cute, looks up, tail wagging with a self-satisfied expression, and then you notice—he’s snacking on cat droppings stolen from their litter or other droppings from outside! Oh no! That’s disgusting! How could you!? You’re remembering the last time he licked your face… than start to feel queasy.
It’s gross but true: Many dogs enjoy eating poop. Their own, other dogs’, cats’, they’re not really picky. Whether it’s because the waste retains some of the smells of undigested matter that is appealing, or whether it’s a reaction to boredom is less important than breaking your dog of this undesirable habit, known as coprophagia.
The biggest health issue associated with coprophagia is the potential continued transmission of parasites. If your dog eats another’s stool, parasites contained within it can be ingested, and take up residence. If your dog eats his own stool, he can be re-infected with parasites you are working to get rid of. And yes, if your dog eats parasite-infected stool and then licks your face, he can potentially transmit these parasites to you! Ew.
Here are some methods you can utilize to help break your pooch of this nasty little habit:
First, be sure you’re feeding your dog a quality dog food. This will help insure the highest level of digestible content, leaving little if any undigested food matter in the feces. Also, dividing the daily intake into several smaller meals can help keep your dog more satisfied throughout the day and less interested in “snacking.” Consider vitamin and mineral supplementation, which may increase levels sufficient to dissuade your dog from this nasty noshing. Next, spend time with your dog engaged in an activity. Exercise and playtime will help keep him focused on enjoyable pastimes and less likely to forage out of boredom.
Of course, keep temptation to a minimum. That means clear the yard of waste, and have yummy treats available when you play together in that space. Your dog will start to associate the yard with something even tastier than feces. If your dog lusts after the cat’s litter box, move the litter to a place where the cat, but not the dog, has access to. Or, opt for a covered litter box to prevent trespassing.
If your dog remains undeterred, there are a few additives on the market designed to “ruin” the flavor of your dog’s waste. Some people have found that sprinkling a hot spice, like cayenne pepper, hot salsa, or wasabi on the stool discourages dogs from sampling. Make sure your dog doesn’t have any allergies to these things beforehand, if possible.
When walking your dog in public areas, keep a firm grip on his leash and give a sharp tug and vocal, “NO!” when you see him pulling with interest toward a foreign mound. Distract him with an alternative treat but never punish him for his weakness since it may reinforce the behavior or result in other undesirable issues.
If your dog is “hooked” and unyielding in his appetite, talk to your SouthCare Animal Medical Center vet at your appointment, or on Airvet – our virtual exam experience. See what else you can try that’s safe and effective. There are supplements we can provide that are tasteless for your pet, but can make feces taste less desirable. Dogs are never too old to learn new tricks or better habits!
In most cases, by neutralizing your dog’s desire for and access to these forbidden delicacies, you will eventually be able to curb if not cure him of his dirty little secret and once again enjoy those happy kisses!
Cancer in Pets
Lumps, bumps, growths, and swellings are signs indicative of health issues that could be potentially life-threatening. As our pets continue to live longer lives, it is imperative that any symptom of a tumor be examined by a veterinarian.
TUMORS: TWO BASIC CATEGORIES
• Not generally life-threatening
• Slow growing
• Do not spread to other parts of the body
• Do not invade neighboring tissue
• Cured by surgery if the entire tumor is able to be removed
• Generally always considered life-threatening
• Damage healthy cells
• Grow in an unrestricted way
• Invade neighboring tissue
• Spread to other parts of the body and establish growth in other areas after entering the lymphatic or circulatory system
• Result of environmental factors or hereditary/genetic sources
• Appropriate treatment dependent on the health of the animal and the size, location, and stage of the tumor
Veterinarians are able to detect a large number of cancers through a physical examination of the animal. Detection can occur through:
• Visual identification:
-Cancers that appear as growths or sores on or beneath the skin
• Inspection and palpation:
-Cancers under the skin
Example: Testicular or mammary gland cancers
• Hands-on examination:
-Swelling or lameness may indicate a cancer of the bone
Cancers that are found inside the body, such as in the spleen and liver, often show clinical signs before they are detected.
Common symptoms include:
• Weight loss
• Gastrointestinal bleeding
PHYSICAL EXAMINATION RECOMMENDATIONS
Companion animals are living longer today. Good food and living conditions plus increased and better opportunities for health care, are all indicative of our desire to have our pets live a good, long life. Since most cancers are discovered in middle-aged and senior dogs, clients need to remain vigilant with their veterinary visits if they want to detect a cancer in its earliest stage. One recommendation is that healthy animals seven years and older be given at least one yearly examination.
Pet parents need to know that the annual physical examinations provide baselines and screening information that could reveal the start of a change in the health of their pet. Early detection could improve the prognosis and prolong the animal’s life expectancy.
Yearly checkups may include:
• Physical examination
• Complete blood count
• Blood chemistries
• Parasite check
• Liver and kidney function tests
• Thyroid levels
• Chest x-ray
• Early renal disease health screen
During the time between the yearly examinations, it is a good idea for clients to be aware of the warning signs of cancer. Any of the following symptoms indicate a need to schedule an appointment with the veterinarian.
• Lumps that do not go away, or ones that grow in size
• Abnormal odors
• Wounds that do not heal
• Abnormal discharges, such as blood, pus, diarrhea, vomiting
• Sudden weight loss
• Change in appetite
• Breathing difficulties
• Changes in urinary or bowel habits
The warning signs do not always mean to expect a diagnosis of cancer; but if they do, clients who know to be watchful, observant, and to contact their veterinarian right away, may help to save their pet’s life.
If you’re concerned about the health of your pet, or it’s been a while since their last exam – CALL US to schedule an appointment. SouthCare: 509-448-4480 OR Click Here to Request an Exam