by Our New Blog Contributer: Ron Rutherford
Puppies can get into seemingly endless amounts of trouble and many of their exploits include eating things they shouldn’t. If you have one, there’s a high probability that you’ve had to pry some inedible object out of his jaws. Or perhaps you’ve realized with horror that it’s too late and he’s licking his lips, a candy wrapper already on its way to his stomach.
The situation poses so many mysteries, and dangers, that are important for us to solve in order to care for our pets.
What Did I Just Step In?
With so much energy and curiosity, we’re not always lucky enough to catch a puppy eating something he shouldn’t. And, unfortunately, there’s often no way to know that it happened at all.
Sometimes the first signs of trouble are regrettably under foot. There’s nothing worse than stepping in the evidence of gastrointestinal distress (especially in socks). But solving the mystery of what caused the distress can be stuck to the bottom of your foot. If you can identify the contents, you’ll be able to assess if it’s dangerous and where it came from.
Other signs of distress can be a tender stomach, weakness, lack of appetite, or disorientation. It’s important to keep an eye on how your puppy is behaving, especially if you suspect he’s eaten something nasty.
Where Did You Find This? The Dump?
Figuring out where your puppy got its disgusting bounty can be a challenge- possibly the most important part of the challenge.
Sometimes, the source of the chewed-upon object is obvious. We’ll find shreds of our favorite socks and know they came from the laundry hamper. Or perhaps there are chew marks in the stair railings. Or there’s trash literally everywhere when we walk in the door. Or we’ll find festive poo and know that someone’s gotten into the crayons.
Sometimes, though, finding the source will put your sleuthing capabilities to the test. You can search high and low for things amiss, stealthily watch your puppy for what he does when he thinks you’re not looking, and go on a spree of battening down the hatches in your home for chewable objects. If you’re really stumped, you can do what many other owners have resorted to and set up a camera to film what goes on while you’re away. If we know where the object came from, it becomes a matter of either removing their access to it or of training your puppy not to eat it again.
Why Have You Done This and What Will Stop You From Doing It Ever Again?
Asking your puppy, “Why? Why have you done this?” rarely yields any real results. So you’ll have to do a bit of detective work to figure out the motivation behind their behavior. From there, you’ll have the tools you need to prevent it from being repeated.
Some puppies get into food because it’s there and it’s delicious. Others are bored or feel underfed. Sometimes they mistakenly think that something is food when it’s decidedly not- cat poop, for instance. Besides being disgusting, non-food can cause blockages in the digestive tract that can cause serious health issues. Making sure anything tempting is properly locked away or supervised is the most effective tack you can take.
Sometimes bits of non-food make it into doggy stomachs while they’re destroying various objects around your home. This destructive behavior often has roots in frustrations (separation anxiety, boredom, aggression). If your puppy is eating you literally out of house and home, you may need to reassess your schedule and make an effort to spend more time exercising him.
As for roadkill, hazardous plants, rocks, and other undesirables, you’ll need diligence. The first step is to remove temptation from your yard. That might require tearing up flowers or installing a new physical or wireless fence to keep them away. Large scale consumption of plants can indicate a lack of something in their diet or an upset stomach. Even rock consumption can denote a deficiency of minerals. Consult an expert about making sure your dog has a balanced diet.
It’s Time to Go to the Vet
While often hilarious in their antics, there are times when our four-legged friends need serious medical help to get out of trouble. Poisonous plants can cause grave damage or even death. If you know which plant your pup’s been chewing on, remember to take a sample of it to the vet with you so that they can identify it. Luckily, a good amount of the problems caused by eating plants or other poisonous things can be circumvented by having the vet pump your puppy’s stomach.
If you know that your puppy has been eating sharp things, like earrings, tacks, or wood, you should take them to the vet as a matter of course. Sometimes these objects can be passed just fine, but sometimes they can cause holes or tears in stomach lining or digestive tracts.
If you know that your dog has eaten string or fabric, these also can cause serious medical problems. Much like in the drier, things can get wrapped up in a dog’s gut and constrict movement of digesting food. It’s best to let a vet deal with the situation.
Yes, there are many mysteries that arise when dealing with doggy digestion. But with love and conscientiousness, we can keep our canines safe and healthy. Happy sleuthing.
Ron Rutherford is a trainer and writer from Boise, Idaho. He and his pups, Boscoe and Sam, have experienced many mysteries in their years together. He writes with wireless dog fence provider, Havahart Wireless.