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Ask Rebecca Your Own Question
Rebecca
Rebecca, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 307
Experience:  Veterinarian for more than 30 years
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Hi my whippet/collie keeps stealing my coal and eating it.

Customer Question

Hi my whippet/collie keeps stealing my coal and eating it. Im aware of diet etc but her diet is good and she eats properly. This is more a habit style thing. I cant put the coal anywhere else due to my health probs so cant carry it but im more concerned what its doing to her. She is now pooing and dripping blobs of semi digested black gritty stuff and I dont know what else I can give her to help her short term. Im going to put a black bag over the coal for the time being to help prevent her getting to it. Shes an un spayed 8yr old & lives with 3 other bitches that dont do it.
Thank you
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Barbara replied 3 years ago.

Dr. Barbara :

Hi, Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm a licensed veterinarian and I'll be happy to help. I'm sorry that this is complicated for you. I do like your thought of covering the coal to prevent Foo's access to it. Of course, your question as to why Foo is doing this is the ultimate issue. This could be just behavioral, but I am concerned that Foo is anemic. This is the most common cause of pica (eating non-edible things).

Dr. Barbara :

You could compare the color of Foo's gums with the color of one of your other dog's gums, and I'll bet that Foo is pale.

Dr. Barbara :

Your vet there will be able to determine that Foo is indeed anemic, and then will be able test her to determine why and hopefully be able to treat her for that.

Dr. Barbara :

Does this make sense to you? I'll look forward to hearing from you. . .Dr. Barbara

JACUSTOMER-lgltporo- :

Her gums are very pink & my vet said shes fine just rather collie like!!! She was recently in season though & I wondered if its hormonal. I want to get her spayed but am currently saving up as I cant find any vets that'll do a voucher for people on benefit.

Dr. Barbara :

Thanks for getting back to me! Very glad she has seen your vet and that her gums are pink. Could be due to her recently being in heat. I like to wait three months after a dog is in heat to spay them. . .the circulating estrogen is at it's lowest, and estrogen can make hemorrhage a little more likely during the surgery.

Dr. Barbara :

I am on the board of our local humane society, and we actually are just starting a program to assist people with the cost of spaying and neutering their dogs. We've had this in place for cats in the past few years. You might want to contact your humane society (in your town or near you) to see what they offer.

Dr. Barbara :

I need to be offline for a couple of hours, but will check back later to answer any more questions. I'm understanding that Foo has no other abnormalities. . .vomiting, diarrhea, drinking excessive water, and urinating more than normal. . .all is well, correct?

JACUSTOMER-lgltporo- :

Yes correct

Dr. Barbara :

Good morning. It's great that Foo seems healthy in all ways. I just did some research regarding her coal pica, and the recommendation would be to check her for anemia, iron deficiency, gastro-intestinal bleeding, and liver disease. These would require some tests by your veterinarian. If all of this was normal, then her penchant for coal would be considered behavioral, at least as far as she was tested. My thought is; since she seems fine, without any overt symptoms, and your vet's examination turns up nothing abnormal, keeping Foo away from the coal is the thing to do. Then I'd recommend watching her stool closely. If it still is black or has definite black in it, she has a gastro-intestinal bleed. Also, of course, keep a close check on her for any other symptoms. I hope that her pica is just a bad habit, but if there is something wrong that the pica is masking then it should show up. Of course, the best would be to have your vet run some tests. . .but this is also the more expensive way. Does this plan seem sensible to you?