Hello all, My name is Deb and I hail from Queensland Australia. I just joined the forums in the hope of getting some advice regarding one of my labs, Starsky. He's 1 and a half (yellow lab) and has a thing for eating rocks. He had surgery in October last year to remove a rock from his large intestine. Things went badly and he ended up with peritonitis and needed another round of surgery (it took over 6 hours). He wasn't expected to survive but he came through after a lot of careful nursing and sleepovers at the vets house.
Last Friday he knocked back a treat. Naturally I rushed him to the vet (seriously, just doesn't happen!), and sure enough another rock showed on the x-ray. This one was bigger and stuck firmly in the small intestine. He's recovering slowly but is still at the vets.
So, my reason for posting is to ask firstly, for tips on fattening up an under weight lab. Not a problem I ever thought I'd have. He needs at least 2-3kgs back on him as he's now just under 30kg and he's a decent size boy. He'll be on mushy vet food for a fair while yet and will lose even more. If anyone has any experience/tips to share on healthy ways to do this I'd love to hear from you.
Secondly, is this rock eating a boredom or hunger thing? My vet isn't really sure why he would be eating them and his brother Hutch never has as far as I know. They are always together for company plus someone is always home and we have lots of visitors coming and going, plus walks and 2 kids to play with, so they always have some sort of action.
They get daily treats and always have bones to chew plus dinner and sure aren't starving (Hutch needs to lose a couple of kgs actually and Starsky was a little chunky at one point). Any ideas on why Starsky might be eating rocks and, how to stop him/train him not to?
Sorry for being long winded but I don't think he can survive another rock in the gut and the vet doubts his chances if he does it again too. I've tried to train him to eat only what I give him and he never picks up rocks when I'm there so saying no when he has them is a problem too. He just look at me like I'm thick (smart boy).
Sorry if this is in the wrong section but I kinda fit into the intro, training and this one so I just posted here lol.
Thanks for any help!
hope his recovery goes smoothly, poor guy.
Is he eating the rocks when he outside unsupervised? If so, I would start by not leaving him outside unsupervised. Yes, it is likely out of boredom. Training is possible but will require you to be near him and supervising him when he is outside (where there are rocks) and redirecting when he goes to pick one up.
He may or may not need more exercise. Though it sounds like a busy household, you don'T mention if he plays (runs around with) his brother or he has the chance to fetch or run in anyway (walks are not "exercise" at that age). However, i wouldn't think this would stop him from eating rocks completely.
as for gaining weight - what did your vet say? If they are suggesting a food for his recovery did they mention he should be loosing weight on it? I would definately talk to them about this.
Charlie (foster) and Rocky
I'd put a lot of effort into clearking all visible rocks from the yard and not leaving him unsupervised. If he is still finding rocks after doing that, you might want to look into a muzzle for him when he is outdoors.
Sharon, Blaise and Diesel.
Yeah, he is outside with Hutch during the day (we have 4 acres) and the rocks he ate are from directly under the house and around the sides. The house is a raised style on stumps. I did the rock thing before getting the boys, having no idea that they might eat them! I can't remove them partly because there are too many but also because we just sold the place. We move in a few weeks to 10 acres but it has no rock gardens *yay*. I'll keep him inside or on the veranda until we move. I know he'll find rocks at some point though even though this place has fenced zones (at least I'll have better control). I'd love to solve the problem without reducing his freedom to romp at will, but I can't let him hurt himself.
Both boys get a heap of exercise plus games and spend a lot of time in the early morning and afternoon chasing each other. We own a truck company and have staff coming and going so they have more 'mates' then you can poke a stick at plus pats, scratches and thrown sticks a plenty. He might be bored still but I didn't think so. Starsky also chews the veranda rails (looks like an attack by giant termites) but Hutch never has. Are some dogs just into chewing more? These are my first 2 Labs so they are breaking me in still.
The vet hasn't advised about how to get some weight back on him yet as he's just focused on pulling him through so far. He is just being fed a tinned recovery vet food thing, awesome description that, mixed with water until he's out of danger (thus the weight loss). The vet will suggest foods for him when he's up to it but I'd like to get more ideas, from people with a wealth of experience like on here, which I can always run past the vet as well. Advice from folks that have done the at home recovery care would be great (nothing like hands on).
A friend suggested training him with a choker chain and putting a rock in front of him (if he tries to pick up the rock, pull the chain) but I'm just not going down that path. Apart from anything else I think it would just confuse him! Just couldn't do it. Supervising him when he's outside for a weekend could be done and maybe I'll catch him at it. Any tips for redirecting him? I need to be trained better as an owner and I'm sorely aware of it. He's the best natured softie and Hutch is missing him like crazy, as are we. I found a thread with some other rock/non-edible object eaters. I really had no idea they did this sometimes. I had a poodle, inherited from my Gran, and she was way to fussy to get into trouble.
Thanks for the reply and Rocky is gorgeous. I'll figure out how to do the pics and post some of the boys (I saw a thread on how to do that too, you guys have everything covered!).
Poor boy. I used to eat rocks as a child (I do not remember it). So I have no advice my mom just said if he picks up the rocks say drop it and when he does give him a treat.
~It doesn't matter how smart the dog is,it matters how smart the owner is.
I wondered about a muzzle as an option. It would be better than another lot of surgery. I'm thinking that a decent sized rockless zone at the new place, more training attempts and a muzzle for other zones when he's in them. This could be a plan. Muzzles are a strange new world for us but he wouldn't need one very often when we move.
Seriously all the Lab pics are so cute it's just not fair on the other dogs.
LOL! I'm glad you can't remember it and I see your doing well. Your Mom has sweet skills that I'm still working on but Starsky will keep training me when he gets out. He has his work cut out for him. I'll supervise the outdoor time with some lamb puffs loaded as a reward. Should be a winner.
Hi from another QLDer.
Sorry about your problems. Have you tried spraying some rocks with one of those foul tasting sprays like you use to stop them chewing on the furniture etc? MAYBE if he gets a bad taste from them, it MIGHT fix him? I cured my Lab from counter surfing with pepper. MAYBE a liberal sprinkling of pepper on a few rocks might stop him. Talk to your vet & see what he says.
As for the weight loss, I've had & am still having problems with my GSD not eating & losing weight. I've had to resort to feeding her rump steak until I can get her to the vet on Thursday. Some people here came up with some good recipes to help gain weight. Feel free to PM me if you want & I'll see if I can find them.
Last edited by Garth; 05-03-2011 at 08:25 AM.
I just experimented with photobucket so pardon me if the pics fail. If they work, Starsky is the black nose and Hutch is the dudley. Their grown up pics are on another pc and I'll put a post op one of Starsky when I can.
Hi Garth, Thanks, I'll add the spray idea to the arsenal. I'll have to find a bulk version (home made maybe). I'll google it. A counter surfing Lab just boggles the mind. Any clue as to why your one is off her tucker? It's a worry. I'd love the recipes and will pm you. Rump steak. Yikes.
Muzzle him with one of those basket type muzzles. He can still pant (to cool off) and even drink water.
My friend had a bassett hound that was a rock eater, after her 3rd surgery, she never went outside without the muzzle on. She never had any more surgeries either.