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Garbage Gut

Anytime food preparation is underway, food scraps, wrappers and more are thrown into the garbage. At some point, our pet's head will find its way into the garbage can. This is especially true in the modern day busy family-life that we all endure day in and day out. Another problematic time for garbage ingestion is around the holiday season.

Why should we be worried? Because people food is not safe for animals. And food isn’t the only risk—animals will eat the most unexpected things. It’s important to guard that garbage can.

You do not want your dog to pull out the old, bacterial laden chicken scraps or worse yet, the packaging. It becomes huge concern when the dog eats the food and the package, as this may cause an obstruction, which if not surgically removed can be life-threatening. Even if there is not an obstruction present, this type of "junk" can create horrific diarrhea, vomiting, or even pancreatitis. Many of these conditions require aggressive supportive care to get the pet through the time it takes for the GI tract to heal.

Boredom and separation anxiety can make animals explore trash cans or pounce on decorations. This can account for the garment ingestions or even the holiday décor devouring. Sounds bizarre, but I have seen it time and time again. Working on the ER side, we always saw an influx of patients that got into something that they should not have around the holiday season.

The cats are not off the hook in this conversation. Many cats view common household items as chew toys and soon to become obstructions. This can include thread, bow material, and even tree tinsel. These ingestions can result in severe GI inflammation and potentially an obstruction. These types of obstructions are difficult to diagnose because the material does not show up on an x-ray. The cloth or plastic materials lack the density required to show on an x-ray.

Another common example for both dogs and cats is the string around the roaster chickens. This is a delicacy for both dog and cat, but also a high risk for causing an obstruction.

We see our fair share of "I have no idea how he got that" at Chattahoochee Animal Clinic. So, the best avenue to avoid these problems is awareness and preventative measures.

Prevention is the best way to protect animals from garbage:

  • Rinse wrappers, containers and packaging before pitching them.
  • Lock garbage under the sink or on the porch.
  • Use trash cans with tight-fitting lids (heavy, self-closing cans for households with large dogs).
  • Move garbage from indoors to well-secured outdoor containers.
  • Put tinsel and breakable decorations high up, out of reach.
  • Put a decorated tree in a room with a door—and keep it closed.
  • Keep dogs away from dangerous and tempting situations.

During the holidays, it may be wise to break out the old doggy crate and put the pup in there when you leave for the evening. This will avoid the boredom munching.

However, if your cat or dog still get into the garbage despite your best efforts, be sure to contact us at Chattahoochee Animal Clinic for advice. Sometimes we recommend inducing vomiting. However, every circumstance is different and vomiting may be contraindicated.

Now with Halloween right around the corner. It is imperative to keep all the sweets out of dog and cat reach. Remember their sense of smell is far superior than ours and they can smell through that candy wrapper.

And always remember...If you have any questions call the clinic or send us an email at www.myatlantavet.com.

Dr. Marcus Smith

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