Have you ever come home to find your trash spread all over the place? And, of course, your adorable and innocent-looking dog turns out to be the culprit. Keeping your home clean with pets can be a nightmare.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. This tends to be a common problem for dog owners when they leave their energetic and curious pets alone at home. But did you know that despite it being annoying, it can also be dangerous for your dog’s health?
Keep reading to find out all the information you need about this common habit, along with several ways you can discourage your dog from getting into the garbage can.
Contents & Quick Navigation
- Why is Trash Bad for Dogs?
- Common Hazardous Garbage for Dogs
- What is Garbage Toxicosis?
- Why Do Dogs Eat Trash?
- Make Lifestyle Changes as a Preventative Measure
- Make Changes to Your Bin Too!
- Training Your Dog to Stay Away from Trash
- Final Thoughts
Why is Trash Bad for Dogs?
Consuming trash is not just an unsightly habit, it’s also unhealthy for your dog. Some rotten foods may infect your dog with diseases that can easily spread to humans as well. Trash cans also often contain objects that could be choking hazards or be extremely dangerous for dogs.
Common Hazardous Garbage for Dogs
Here are a few things you may have in your trash can that can be dangerous for dogs:
1. Spoiled and Raw Food
Spoiled food like yogurt or raw food like old meat, can lead to Salmonella poisoning in dogs. Symptoms of this infection include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, weight loss, dehydration, and even shock. Salmonella is also transferable from dogs to humans.
2. Paper Products
Eating paper products can also be a problem. Napkins and tissues may have been used to clean up poisonous liquids or spoiled food. If this is eaten by your dog, they could become ill.
3. Styrofoam and Plastic
Eating styrofoam and plastic may cause vomiting, discomfort and gastrointestinal obstructions in your dog.
String-like objects such as threads may cut through your dog’s intestines, leading to stomach infections.
5. Sanitation Products
Sanitation products like diapers and tampons eaten by your dog can be extremely harmful. They might end up blocking your dog’s digestive tract and make them very ill.
6. Sharp Objects
Trash cans may also contain sharp objects like razor blades and broken glass that are bound to hurt your dog, anywhere they come into contact.
Chemicals can be found in your trash in the form of cleaning products, medication, batteries and old electronics. Your dog might end up chewing them and ingesting chemicals.
8. Poisonous Food
Certain food like chocolate, grapes, and coffee that are toxic to dogs are often thrown away in the trash. This might easily be consumed by your dog snooping through the trash, causing severe health problems.
Related Reads: Upset Stomach In Dogs – Symptoms, Remedies & Medication
What is Garbage Toxicosis?
Garbage toxicosis is an illness caused by dogs eating garbage, feces, spoiled food or dead animals. This condition arises when your dog eats something contaminated by bacteria that ultimately end up in your dog’s bloodstream.
Outdoor dogs, small breed dogs, and small puppies are more likely to suffer from garbage toxicosis.
Symptoms of Garbage Toxicosis
The symptoms of garbage toxicosis include:
- Blood or watery diarrhea
- Stomach pain and swelling
- Loss of appetite
In some extreme cases, garbage toxicosis might also cause seizures and can be fatal.
Treatment for Garbage Toxicosis
Dogs will vomit within two to three hours of ingesting garbage. The treatment for garbage toxicosis involves the following:
⇒ Take a Break from Food
You’ll need to keep your dog on an empty stomach for 24 hours. After a day of fasting, give your dog some easily digestible food, such as rice and boiled chicken, but only in small amounts. You could also throw in some yogurt to restore the balance of good bacteria in your dog’s digestive system.
Gradually, over the course of three days, you can get your dogs back onto their regular diet.
⇒ Rehydrate your Dog
When your dog is vomiting and suffering from diarrhea, they can lose a lot of body fluids and important nutrients. This is why it’s important to ensure that your dog is drinking enough water.
If your dog is drinking too much water and throwing it all up, it’s best to just give them ice cubes. You can also add some Pedialyte to the water or ice cubes to keep your dog’s electrolyte levels balanced.
On the other hand, if your dog isn’t drinking any water at all, take matters into your own hands. Use a syringe to squirt small amounts of water into your dog’s mouth.
⇒ Visit the Vet
If your dog’s reactions are serious, like non-stop vomiting, you should definitely go to a vet. Treatment within eight to 12 hours is the ideal course of action. This is because recovery will be faster and simpler if the toxins aren’t already absorbed in the bloodstream.
Vets usually perform fluid therapy and give the dog electrolytes for rehydration purposes. Fluids might even be injected for faster recovery. H2 blockers might be prescribed for gas problems and antibiotics to tackle infections.
Your dog might also be given antidiarrheal medication. Activated charcoal may be used to deal with toxins and bacteria if your dog is vomiting a lot.
Why Do Dogs Eat Trash?
Dogs don’t just eat trash out of habit or just to annoy you. They don’t understand that it is bad for them in the first place. You need to know why trash cans are so appealing to your canine buddy to actually stop them from wreaking havoc in your bin.
1. Scavenging is Biological for Dogs
Dogs are natural scavengers that snoop around for food by instinct. This is how dogs used to survive in the wild so their keenness to explore bins isn’t all that surprising. You can’t really expect dogs to go against their nature. So if your dog is hungry, it’s very normal for it to look in the bin for a meal.
However, with training, you can teach your dog not go near trash cans. Also if you provide a sufficient amount of food, then you can be sure that they won’t resort to looking for food elsewhere.
2. Smells and Textures of Trash
Dogs like to explore with their senses. They’re attracted to the smells of food and sometimes even blood. What’s more, they also enjoy chewing textured things like cardboard. All of these are things are easily available in the trash, so you can guess why they’re so appealing to dogs.
3. Behavioral Problems
Dogs tend to attack trash cans when they are bored. The bin is like a treasure box for your dog, waiting to be uncovered. Pulling out trash from a bin and throwing it about is sort of game for them.
When your dog has a lot of pent-up energy, with nowhere to channel it, they will do all sorts of naughty things like biting shoes and making a mess. Sometimes dogs also do this because they’re feeling anxious and looking through the trash makes them feel better.
4. Underlying Medical Conditions
Certain medical conditions like polyphagia or malabsorption syndrome can also make dogs hungrier than usual. During these times they may resort to eating garbage.
Polyphagia is when a dog has an abnormal appetite and is eating a lot more than usual. This is one of the stages of canine diabetes. Malabsorption syndrome is when your dog’s intestines can’t absorb all the nutrients it gets from meals, making your dog feel hungry all the time.
Important Read: Why do Dogs Eat Cat Poop & How to Stop Dog from Eating Cat Poop
Make Lifestyle Changes as a Preventative Measure
There are a number of things you can do to reduce the appeal of trash can hunting. This may not seem important, but your dog’s behavior is greatly dependent on their lifestyle. Go through the list of tried and tested methods and try them out yourself.
Feed your Dog Well
If dogs have a full stomach and satisfactory meals, they will be less likely to go digging through the trash can for scraps. You should feed your dog small meals throughout the day. Make sure the food you’re feeding your dog is balanced and nutritious.
Kibble or wet food is the best commercial food option. Check the ingredients to make sure that there are decent nutrients in the food you are buying. Good quality dog food should have meat, vegetables, and grains listed as the main ingredients.
Avoid fillers like corn, wheat, and animal by-products.
You shouldn’t give your dog table scraps or frequent treats. Break up treats throughout the day and opt for healthier snack options like carrots. These treats are unhealthy and contribute to obesity; they don’t give your dog any nutrition or satisfy their hunger.
A Busy Dog is a Good Dog
Make sure your dog has enough chew toys to keep them busy. They shouldn’t have the time to look in the bin if they are occupied. Dogs act out when they have a lot of pent-up energy. This is where the need for consistent exercise comes in.
If your dog has been messing up the trash lately, it might mean that they aren’t getting enough exercise. Consider taking your dog out on more regular walks and visits to the park. Even just extending the playtime hours will work.
Then your dog will have a place to channel their energy and they won’t be eyeing the bin. What’s more, exercise will improve your dog’s health and strengthen your bond.
Make Changes to Your Bin Too!
There are also some changes you can make to your bin, to make it difficult for your dog to snoop around.
Hide the Bin
If the trash eating habit is getting really bad, the immediate solution is to hide the bin. Buy a bin that’s inconspicuous and easily movable. Keep it inside cupboards or places your dog can’t see, like under the sink.
If your dog can’t see the bin, it won’t be on their mind and there will be fewer disasters.
Restrict Bin Access
Some dogs can, unfortunately, master the art of opening cupboards and although that’s a wonderful talent, it’s a nightmare for the owner. If you’ve got a skilled dog like this, it’s time to put up some barriers. The best thing to do would be to install baby gates around the bins.
You could also just keep your bin in a separate room. Make sure your dog doesn’t have access to that room. You could also consider placing your bins a bit higher up than usual, in a place your dog can’t reach.
Another way to restrict your dog’s access to the bin is to buy a bin that’s complicated to open. Tight lids and systems that dogs can’t figure out are ideal.
Step bins are probably the easiest for a dog, so don’t opt for that. Go for some dog proof trash cans recently launched in the market instead.
Make your Bin Unappealing
You can actually keep your dog away from the bin by startling them when they go near it. There are motion sensor carpets that link to a device. These devices make a loud noise or even blow a cold gush of air on your dog.
Some carpets placed in front of the bin may even give a slight shock to your dog, acting as a corrective mechanism. These are in no way harmful for your dog, but they might not be the best option if your dog is anxious.
Instead of buying devices, you could also set up a homemade trash obstacle on your own. The trick is to stack a bunch of empty cans in the shape of a pyramid near the bin. A string should be tied to one of the cans at the bottom, while the other end of the string should be tied to a treat.
This treat needs to be hanging above the trash can. So whenever your dog goes towards the trash can and tries to grab the treat, the tower of cans will fall.
The loud noise should create negative feelings for your dog towards the bin. However, you should be careful about your dog eating the string.
Related Read: Dog Proof Litter Box: A Complete Buying Guide
Training Your Dog to Stay Away from Trash
The most important thing you should do is train your dog to stay away from the garbage. With dogs, immediate correction and praising is the key to training. So if you don’t catch your dog on the spot with the trash, correction won’t really help.
Be super observant and make sure to scold your dog whenever you catch them in the act. The loud booby traps for the bins mentioned above are a good way of sounding an alarm.
As for training, there are a number of methods to follow:
Clap and Off
When your dog approaches the trash can and nudges around, clap your hands loudly. Then with an authoritative tone say ‘off’.
Move your Dog
Whenever you see your dog near the bin, let them know that it is off limits. You can do this by pushing your dog gently away and taking up space in front of the bin instead.
Distract them with a Treat
If your dog goes snooping around the bin, approach them with a treat in your hand. Keep your fist closed and let your dog sniff your hand. Your dog might whine and bark to get the treat, but don’t open your fist. When your dog goes back to the bin, immediately open your fist and say ‘yes’.
At this point, when your dog walks away from the bin towards you, give them the treat. Gradually add in the command ‘leave it’ when you see your dog go near the bin.
Reinforce the Training
After a good amount of training, occasionally place your dog’s favorite and most smelly food on top of the lid. See if your dog still goes towards the bin. This might be hard for your dog to resist, so don’t worry if it doesn’t work.
But if your dog does go towards the food, train it again with the methods mentioned above. Soon your dog will know that no matter how appealing the smell is, the bin is off limits.
If it’s baffling to you as to why dogs love the trash so much, well now you have the answer. You also know how dangerous consumption of trash is for your dog.
Keeping your dog away from trash is also necessary to ensure both your dog and your family’s health. But don’t panic because now you know what to do. Try to follow the instructions in this article and train your dog appropriately.
Soon your efforts will pay off and your dog will know that trash cans are a ‘no-go’ zone.
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