Yes, we’re talking feces today, and — yes — it’s a big deal. As pet owners, it’s important that we pay attention to the dog’s and cat’s poop. What does it looks like? How does it smell? What is its texture? It’s color, etc. (see post).
Answers to these questions help you and your holistic veterinarian determine if your pet is suffering from parasites, a virus or some other malady. This is because your pet’s poop gives you a real insight into their health. But did you know one of the most infrequently asked – but important — questions about poop? It’s how long your pet’s poop stays around.
Here’s the truth: I do not have to poop scoop my yard in Florida despite the yard being used as a port-a-potty for my 6 dogs. This is because I don’t feed my dogs (or cats) kibble. If you’re ready for the science of why and how this works… and what it may have to do with your pet, keep reading.
In most national parks, there’s information about picking up our dogs’ poop. Everybody knows they’re supposed to pick up their dogs’ poop. But the reason may surprise you. Many people say it’s because of worms. But these days, most dogs are over-medicated in that their heartworm “prevention” also contains medicine to inhibit intestinal worms. So worms are not the true threat these national park signs are created to avoid.
This is going to sound absurd but the REAL reason they want us to clean up the poop is because if we don’t, the park would be covered in it.
Now wait a minute. Can this be serious? It is. And let’s think about why.
These days, the grand majority of pets in the United States are eating processed food: Kibble. It’s convenient. The animals seem to like it, after they eat it. And it has a really long shelf life. Years in fact. The little known — or surprising— connection is that what keeps the food from going bad for several years also keeps the poop from “going bad” for several years.
Quick analogy: Think of all those bodies in cemeteries, embalmed before they were put in the ground. (Embalmed means all of the blood in the veins and the tissues were completely replaced with formaldehyde, a preservative that prevents decay.) So in 10 years, 50 years even, my great grandma’s body has not decayed.
The same concept is at play with our dog’s poop! If we don’t clean up our dog poop, especially those dogs who have been eating conventional kibble, that’s poop is going to be like my great grandma – still here in 50 years!
This is not the way it’s supposed to work! Our ecosystem is designed to break down debris – the poop, and as long as the poop hasn’t been preserved, the dung beetles will go to town and recycle the dung in the environment. (Dung beetles – nature’s poop recyclers,)
But our domestic dogs and cats who eat kibble, and other treats, that has been preserved for long shelf life produce poop that is also well preserved. And the dung beetles are going to have a hard time breaking down those chemicals.
To prove this, I’ve conducted a little experiment in my own backyard. My dogs eat real food, food that has not been preserved or treated with chemicals. If I don’t go outside to clean up after my herd of dogs, the poop piles are gone… within two days. This is not because the rain broke down the poop. It’s actually because the natural system was able to recycle it that quickly!
So, the next time you clean up your cats’ or dogs’ poo, consider what he/she eating. How is has it affected the poop? How well preserved is the poop? And how is your pet’s food contributing to — or taking away — from their health?