Dr. Coates is a veterinarian based in the other “Sunshine State” – that's Colorado to the rest of you – where she lives and plays with a varied range of animals. She shares her professional and personal experiences, Monday through Friday, here on petMD's blog, the Fully Vetted. Log in for your daily dose of her insight and wisdom. < Previous Post Next Post > Oct 07, 2013 Another Reason to Stop Dogs from Eating Poop by Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM Share Save to mypetMDCheck out this case study I just came across.
For six months, a one-year-old, 50 pound, female, spayed, mixed breed dog had been routinely urinating large amounts of light-colored urine in her sleep. She was also drinking and generally urinating more than normal. The dog was referred to North Carolina State University’s veterinary teaching hospital for a thorough work-up.
Her physical exam was pretty unremarkable. The results of her complete blood cell count were normal. Biochemical analysis of a blood sample revealed a mildly elevated alkaline phosphatase level (189 U/L; reference range, 16 to 140 U/L) and screamingly high (that’s a technical term) alanine transaminase level (1,736 U/L; reference range, 12 to 54 U/L), both of which, in this case at least, point to problems with the liver. She also had low urine specific gravities (a test of the kidney’s ability to concentrate urine) on two sequential urinalyses. All other tests, including an abdominal ultrasound and fine needle aspirate of the liver were normal.
I would have been scratching my head wondering what to do next if this dog were my patient, but during the course of the appointment her owners brought up the fact that she regularly ate the feces of another dog in the home that was being treated with the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) carprofen. The veterinarians involved in the case proceeded to test the dog’s blood carprofen, and the drug was present at detectable levels. Goes to show the importance of a good history!
Some dogs that take NSAIDs can develop a rare, idiosyncratic complication related to the toxic effects these drugs can have on the liver. Affected dogs typically become lethargic, stop eating, and develop diarrhea, vomiting and increased thirst and urination. Their work-up tends to reveal a very high alanine transaminase level, along with elevations in other “liver” values. The dog in this case study doesn’t completely fit these parameters, but she’s pretty close considering we’re talking about a secondary exposure.
The only treatment this dog received was a recommendation to eliminate her access to feces. According to the owner, the dog’s symptoms completely resolved within one week of her discharge from the veterinary hospital. A sample of urine taken at that time revealed a normal urine specific gravity, greatly improved liver values (these can take some time to fall completely back to normal), and an undetectable level of carprofen in her blood stream. A month later, the dog was still clinically normal.
Prior to reading this article, I would never have considered NSAID toxicity through ingestion of feces as a potential cause of illness in dogs. If you need another reason to stop your dog from eating poop, now you’ve got it.
Dr. Jennifer Coates
Suspected carprofen toxicosis caused by coprophagia in a dog. Hutchins RG, Messenger KM, Vaden SL.; J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2013 Sep 1;243(5):709-11.
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nmarchionni How to stop my dog.. 10/07/2013 02:01pm I catch my dog sniffing / trying to eat cat poop around the neighborhood (I've read this has to do with undigested food in cat poop). Any ideas how to keep him away from it? Reply to this comment Report abuse 2 Dr. Jennifer Coates 10/08/2013 11:02am It's not easy! You basically need to be right next to the dog at all times so you can redirect him (using a head collar helps) at the first sign of interest in the poop and give him a small treat when he focuses on you instead. The goal is to train him to look to you for a treat when he notices poop on the ground. Reply to this comment Report abuse TheOldBroad "Leftovers" 10/07/2013 05:57pm I'd guess this is kinda the same thing as the concern about people flushing untaken prescriptions down the toilet. I've heard there are trace amounts of all sorts of prescription drugs in the water supply.
Im thinking that what this comes down to is this: critters should only eat what is offered to them at mealtime. Reply to this comment Report abuse 1 Dog Mama Horse poop 10/07/2013 10:57pm Interesting you should mention this story. Our guys are typically interested in horse poop only. Which we generally allow, as there is no way of stopping it when on the horse farm.
When one of the horses was getting NSAIDs, though, paranoid as I am, we were making sure that they didn't munch on the poop from that horse. Reply to this comment Report abuse 1
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