Dr. Dolittler

Use muzzle to curb ‘garbage gut’



Q. I love taking my dog for walks, but she invariably eats something nasty — cat poop, stray garbage, even those “crispy frogs” plastered to the road on a hot day. Is there anything I can do to curb this disgusting habit?

Quite apart from the “ick” factor, “crispy frogs” could prove toxic if they are from the toad species known as Bufus marinus or Bufo. Then there’s the inevitable diarrhea to clean up after she comes down with the condition we veterinarians call “garbage gut.” And how about the possibility of picking up intestinal parasites from cat scat?

In other words, your problem isn’t merely that her behavior turns your stomach; it’s patently unsafe and potentially expensive, too.

Here’s the short list of recommendations I offer my clients when this issue arises:

Abandon the retractable leash. These leads are not only unsafe for dogs who abuse the “endless leash” setting and manage to eat things they shouldn’t; they’re a bad idea when there’s traffic around, too.

Keep current on your parasite prevention protocol. It’s parasite central down here in the subtropics.

Consider a muzzle. Contrary to appearance and popular opinion, cage or basket muzzles are not cruel. A well-fitting one is every bit as humane and comfortable as a halter-style lead.

The versions I like are made of soft and pliable leather or fabric, with metal or plastic applied in ways that keep it both comfortable and functional. The very best have a safety strap that comes up the forehead for comfort and stability.

Though you may not like the Hannibal Lecter look, muzzles start to seem pretty darn charming when you consider that the alternatives are “crispy frogs” and big vet bills.

Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice in South Miami. Her website is drpattykhuly.com. Send questions to khulyp@bellsouth.net, or Dr. Dolittler, Tropical Life, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172.

Read more Pets stories from the Miami Herald

  • Shore crabs: Low maintenance pet really comes out of its shell

    You wouldn't know it by the petite tank in tow, but the Merchlinsky family emerged from George's Beach Shop on the boardwalk in this Shore town on a recent sunny day with three new pets - from Haiti.

  • Animal Island: Human shampoo no fix for itchy dog

    Q: My 5-year-old Westie has redness on her paws and she is always chewing on them. Her skin is so flaky and her fur actually feels greasy sometimes, and she is always itching.

  • Pet Vet: Lab's problem may begin with his hips

    Alan writes in about his 3-year old Labrador retriever named Scout who has been having trouble jumping up into his seat in Alan's truck and, at times, trouble getting up after lying down for a while. Alan has heard about big dogs having problems with their hips and wants to know if Scout might have such a problem.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category