Chris Kouwenhoven


Answers about eating dirt and when to spay.

Why do dogs eat clay or dirt? Are they trying to get a missing mineral in their diet?

Some people claim that dogs know when they are missing something in their diets and react by consuming clay and other strange substances, but I don't think that this is the case. In previous issues, I've discussed the social and behavior differences in dogs and cats and this question once again points up the difference in the two species. I have never heard of a cat behaving in this manner, but it is not unusual in dogs. Dogs frequently eat just about anything, (except when you are trying to give them a pill!), including road kill and the contents of litter boxes. Cats prefer to stalk their food and are much more selective about what they will eat, which makes giving them a pill much more difficult than a dog. So, I would suspect that dogs that eat dirt are just being dogs and not trying to correct their nutritional needs.

At what age should I have my dog/cat spayed or neutered?

Some veterinarians suggest that spaying and neutering can be done as early as three months of age, but personally I am not comfortable with that schedule. There may good reason to do the surgery that young in some circumstances, such as finding a home for a genetically impaired kitten or puppy that should not breed. Sometimes a breeder will have such a dog or cat and rather than euthanize it, will give it away after the surgery. But, as a general rule, I believe six months of age is the minimum for spaying/neutering. By that age the animal is pretty much fully developed and is not likely to have come into season yet. Check with your family veterinarian. But whatever your veterinarian suggests, be sure to have your pet spayed or neutered. Not only will this help control overpopulation of pets, but you will dramatically decrease the odds of tumors in your pet as it ages.

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