Watch Tip: Tainted Waste

Posted on March 20th, 2010 by Anna Nirva

Watch for old spoiled garden waste and wild animal carcasses uncovered by spring rains and snowmelt. Clean it up. Even well-fed dogs and cats may attempt to feed on fragrant but tainted waste, and they can be sickened.

A Good Samaritan for animals starts at home

Our shelter dog Austin has a great nose, it goes without saying. And my effort last fall to feed old pumpkins to the neighborhood deer as a neighbor advised seemed like a good idea at the time. Except the deer apparently didn’t like them. Now spring has sprung, as they say, and the snow has melted off the old rotten pumpkins. Guess what. Austin with his talented coonhound nose was gloriously happy to discover them. He thought they were delicious and so he ate. He ate a lot. Guess what’s next: we were cleaning diarrhea for two days! Lovely.

I told this story to another neighbor who runs the front office at a large vet clinic nearby. She said that “this time of year we are overrun with patients who ate bad stuff that showed up as the snow melted.” She went on to say that sometimes “it’s just gastrointestinal,” but other times mold and parasites can create more serious problems. Sometimes dogs or cats get into fights over exceptionally attractive garbage such as an old deer leg, and need medical attention for bites.

Stray or wandering animals that may be underfed are particularly vulnerable to eating “bad food.” Not only will they eat less palatable or safe garbage, but they are perhaps less healthy and less able to withstand a bad bout of diarrhea and resulting dehydration and weakness. Real suffering can result.

It’s time for spring cleaning. Make sure your lawn and property are clear of old garden waste and dead rodent carcasses and other smelly stuff, and keep the compost in a contained area.

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