My Microplastic-Producing Puppy Dog

By Liesl Clark

It’s getting obscene. Something has to change, or I’m going to have to take back all our claims of being a “near-zero waste family.” The pooper has become a one-dog-microplastic-producing-chewup-machine the likes of which has never been seen this side of the Mississippi.

We went away for the holidays and left our sweet pooch in the care of a friend who lives right on our property. And the few times he was left alone (the dog, that is,) he munched up every hard plastic item he could get his little paws on.

Microplastics in Front of the Christmas Tree. Photo © Liesl Clark

Microplastics in Front of the Christmas Tree. Photo © Liesl Clark

And the hard plastics weren’t all he targeted with his sharp little choppers. He ripped up couch pillows filled with plastic microfibers, he found stuffed animals filled with nurdles (and I thought they were filled with beans), and he obliterated pencils coated with a brightly-colored plastic shrinkwrap.

Pillows & Stuffed Ducks Are Not Chew Toys. Photo © Liesl Clark

Throw Pillows & Stuffed Ducks Are Not Chew Toys. Photo © Liesl Clark

I won’t include a photo of the newly-purchased (for Christmas) very expensive Legos that were altered into disturbing little pieces of detritus. It’s too upsetting for some 9-year-olds.

Are we going to have to deep-6 the k-9?

Microplastic-Producing K9 Photo © Liesl Clark

Microplastic-Producing K9. Photo © Liesl Clark

Well, he’s pretty cute.

But since rescuing him from Craig’s List last summer, our backyard is now filled with little bits of plastics our 4-legged loved one has created from plastic-lined soccer balls, ripped-up kick balls, shredded swimming noodles, chomped and spit out plastic baseball bats. Serves us right for leaving these plastics outside.

Cutie Caught in the Act. Photo © Liesl Clark

Cutie Caught in the Act. Photo © Liesl Clark

What’s a dog-lover to do? This (wo)man’s best friend is quickly turning into her worst plastic nightmare. I’m beginning to wonder whether a good percentage of the microplastics found in the ocean are due to peppy puppy penchants for plastic snacks.

Dog-Chewed Yard Ball. Photo © Liesl Clark

Dog-Chewed Yard Ball. Photo © Liesl Clark

Did I mention how cute he was?

Glee.

Plastic-Induced Glee.

When we’re around, our little guy is a toy teetotaler. Honest.

Could This Sweet Guy Really Eat All That Plastic?

Could This Sweet Guy Really Eat All That Plastic?

Research says we should get him a crate. But I can’t bear the thought of a huge piece of hard plastic becoming his home. So, we’re going to try an indoor homemade wooden dog den. The thinking is that this den will provide him with the security and belonging he needs when we’re away.

Do you have a microplastic-producing pet? Share your woes here — don’t be shy — and if there are enough of us perhaps we can start a PPPPP support group (Parents of Puny Plastic-Producing Pets.)

He's a Keeper. Photo © Liesl Clark

He’s a Keeper. Photo © Liesl Clark

Meanwhile, I think I’ll take my own advice and craft a few soft toys to soothe his teething/chewing needs. At our Trash Backwards app, we have all sorts of great reuse projects for your animalia:

Click Through for Everyday Item Reuses for Creatures Great and Small at Trash Backwards

Click Through for Everyday Item Reuses for Creatures Great and Small at Trash Backwards

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8 Comments on “My Microplastic-Producing Puppy Dog”

  1. Suzanne
    January 11, 2013 at 7:00 am #

    We have a crate for our dogs for just about the same reason. It is wire but I am sure it is coated in plastic. But, we got it free on freecycle at least:) It does create a sense of security for our dogs and they just know they go in when I leave. They always howl and bark with delight when they here me come back in the car. As soon as they get out they act like I have been gone for weeks—-every time:) Good idea I think.

    Suzanne

    • January 11, 2013 at 7:49 am #

      Hi Suzanne. Thanks so much for the positive encouragement about a crate. I’m so hoping that this works out for him!
      — Liesl at Trash Backwards

  2. Jan Williams
    January 11, 2013 at 7:04 am #

    He doesn’t need soft, he needs hard things to chew on. Give him a choice of a cow’s foot for dogs, a big rawhide chew (vets say they are safe, and most of all disgestable, or some other hard chew toy.

    • January 11, 2013 at 7:48 am #

      Thanks Jan! He has cow’s hooves, pigs ears, bones, all sorts of hard things that we have for him but even when there’s one hoof available (we’ll make one hard chewy thing available at a time) to him he’ll still go for the plastics. My thought was that perhaps it’s too much hard stuff. He’ll choose a hard plastic that’s right next to the hoof. And this behavior happens, of course, when we’re not home, which is rare.
      — Liesl at Trash Backwards

  3. bluesnip
    January 14, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    I can totally recommend a crate 🙂 nice safe place for pooch while you are out – if he does this only when you aren’t there its likely to be linked to either boredom or anxiety, neither of which are very nice for any dog. I like hard rubber treat dispensing toys that they have to bat about for hours to get aall the bits out, kong’s filled with yummy things and frozen the night before – anything that takes them a bit of time and effort to think about, to distract them from the fact that you aren’t there. For the recycler in all of us, try a toilet roll stuffed with treats and folded at the ends – just takes that little bit longer to get through for inquisitive canines.

    • January 15, 2013 at 10:19 am #

      These are really great ideas, bluesnip! And the toilet roll stuffed with treats is hilarious. Will try it. My dog loves carrot pieces. Maybe we’ll stuff them into a roll and see what sort of mess happens.
      — Liesl at Trash Backwards

  4. Constance
    October 28, 2014 at 7:17 am #

    I have micro-cardboard-shreddings producing pets: gerbils. 🙂
    They love shredding toilet paper rolls and whatever thin cardboard comes their way (minus coated cardboards, those out of fridge and freezer and egg cartons).
    But concerning your little plastic monster…what about leather for him to chew on (e.g. old leather footballs or such)?

    • November 6, 2014 at 11:54 am #

      Hi Constance: Those shredding gerbils sound much more environmentally friendly than my little pup! Even leather ends up in shreds. He just loves to chew on things when he’s outside. It’s subsided a little, now that we’ve picked up everything in our back yard. So, he focuses just on the sticks we throw for him and those seem to do the trick. He just loves to chew when he’s really happy!

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