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

  • Owner, pitbull helped each other heal before saying goodbye

    It's not often that I get to experience a story from its beginning to its end. The exception is the rags-to-riches tale of a pit bull named Sweetie Grace.

  • 10 next-gen tech tools for dogs

    We all know the stereotype of the obsessive pet owner. It used to be the person who calls home 14 times a day to check on Fluffy, who buys ridiculous outfits and coordinating collar and leashes for every day of the week, takes the dog to doggy day spas, and who leaves pets a fortune in their wills. That's still over-the-top, but by today's standards it's also completely old-school. There's a new way to be obsessive, and it even has a cool factor attached to it (depending on who you ask, anyway). With our ultra-connected, high-tech culture, there's a niche in the pet industry that is growing at an impressive rate: technology for dogs.

  • Pet Vet: Ear canal issues prevalent problem for pups

    Alice is a 4-year-old golden retriever who lives with Karen, her caretaker. Alice has had a very good life, spending most of her time with Karen both inside and outside the house.

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