Friday, November 9, 2007

The Fig Newton Remedy

A friend of mine asked for information about the Fig Newton Remedy for her dogs. I thought that I'd post the information here for all to see.


Hannah has a very unsavory habit -- coprophagia. Yes, our lovely labrador eats poop, causing cess pool breath. Her sister picked up the habit as well and that causes toxic vomit. Lovely.

We think that it stems from her life before moving in with us. She was in a home kennel for the first 10 months of her life. It was a very nice kennel and she came into the house with her human family during the day but it was still a kennel. There is also some thought that girl dogs have some instinct to do this because dog moms clean up after their puppies that way. At any rate, over the years we have tried to solve this problem using several different recommendations: meat tenderizer on food, Tabasco sauce on poop to try to train avoidance, For-Bid, Dis-taste and other products sold for this behavior issue, etc. And yes, of course we pick up the yard on a regular basis!

Hannah and Emma have been receiving Fig Newtons with their meals since January and our results have been very good with two exceptions. After starting the Fig Newton Remedy, we have noticed a significant improvement in their yard cleaning activity.

The first time we noticed a problem was back in July. I noticed Emma was rooting around in the grass. I said to myself, "Uh oh! The treatment may have been rendered ineffective!" The next time I let her out, I followed her. She was digging and eating and digging. I thought, "Grubs?" It reminded me of when Penny had a grub eating binge. Nope, not grubs. Pellets of rabbit scat. I'm not sure about giving Fig Newtons to the neighborhood rabbits.

The second time, it was definitely my fault. Hannah and Emma normally eat Nutro Natural Choice Lamb and Rice. In September, I was asked to test a new food on the girls. We changed
foods and continued with the Fig Newton type addition. A few days latter I thought that I smelled "badness" on Hannah's breath. A day or two after that, Hannah had an upset stomach and vomited poop all over our bedroom in the middle of the night. The next morning, I put the girls back on their regular food.

Results so far.

Nutro Natural Choice Lamb and Rice + Fig Newton type cookies* = no poop eating

OtherBrand Lamb and Rice + Fig Newton type cookie = Badness

* We have used Kroger brand, Harris Teeter brand, Nabisco, 365 and Newman's Own . We have used regular and fat free and whole wheat. All yield similar results. I just get whatever is on sale or I have a good coupon for.


One Fig Newton type cookie per 25 pounds of dog.

Why it works

It was clear that something in the Fig Newton types treats makes the poop less appetizing. I looked into this a bit and it turns out that fig plants produce ficin, a protease enzyme that aids digestion by breaking down animo acids and works similarly to the enzymes in papayas (papain) and pineapple (bromelin). And yes, all three enzymes can be used as meat tenderizers. As it turns out, the item in the Fig Newtons that is at work is the figs themselves.

Interestingly, there are urban legends out there about feeding dogs pineapple to resolve this problem as well.

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