My Kid Ate Dog Sh*t!!!!

Dear Mamas,

I am so so so embarrassed to even talk about this! Yesterday I was out in the vegetable garden with our 14-month-old. As I was weeding, I glanced over to watch her pick up a piece of dog poo that I’d missed in my clean-up. Before I could leap to her, she leaned over and … took a bite. OMG!!!!!!!!! I almost died! I grabbed her, ran inside and washed out her mouth thoroughly as I dry-heaved. Then I called poison control (they were unimpressed), but what else should I have done?! Is it dangerous? Will she ever do this again? I’m beside myself … and can’t even admit my name. What’s wrong with my child??

Anonymous

Dear An-nie,

Take heart! At least you don’t have a picky eater.

It may come as a shock, but you have no idea how common this is. Just a guess as to why this happens so frequently — doggie doo appears amazingly similar to one of our favorite treats, and how is a toddler to know the difference? Kids this age just want to explore everything, even if it makes Mommy toss her cookies.

The good news is, almost any pediatrician you ask has gotten this frantic call and knows the risks are minimal (hence, the subdued chuckle you may hear at the other end of the phone). Ditto for the folks at Poison Control.

There’s very little in dog dirt that is toxic or dangerous to a young child, and Mother Nature built in protection in the form of digestive acids in the stomach and GI tract that dissolve pretty much everything.

That said, there are a couple of highly unlikely risks to be aware of:

Animal feces of all kinds can carry parasites which may be transmitted through the oral route. Also, that e.coli that you’ve heard so much about recently can set up shop in animal waste, but the varieties that cause human illness have not been linked to pets.

So that means if your little explorer gets sick with a diarrheal illness lasting more than 24 hours during the few weeks after chomping on the goody, you’ll want to have her seen and include that fact in your history. Some specific testing may be in order, but like I said, it’s exceedingly unlikely.

As far as a repeat performance goes, I can’t say I’ve heard about kiddos who indulge in this delicacy more than once. The less-than-fabulous taste combined with your dramatic reaction is enough to dissuade even the most adventurous eater, so chances are it’s pretty safe to wander out in the garden again.

And just think about the great story you’ll have to tell her dates (not to mention her own kids) in years to come!

~ The Mamas

 

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Rachel Zahn, MD is a pediatrician turned health writer who had three kids during medical school and pediatric training—crazy, huh?


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