Submitted by Lisa A. Yackel, CVPM, PHR
Hospital Administrator at Case Veterinary Hospital
For the last year, I have had the privilege of working remotely at home. It is a truly efficient day as my interruptions are minimized and I don’t have the commute time into Savannah. With today’s wonderful technology, I log into my work computer at my normal 7:30am (albeit in shorts or sweat pants), take a lunch around 1:00 (albeit leftovers in my own kitchen), and log out around 6:00pm.
As a dog parent, it is an unusual day also in that I get to see what my dog does when I am not home. I work in a part of the house he is not allowed in, so, he has a routine that is somewhat mirrored in how it would be if I was at my normal workplace. Admitably, I do take a bathroom break once in a while and share that time to let him out for potty breaks more often than he normally would be able to. On nice weather days, I let him out on our large deck while I work at my desk that overlooks that area.
With our unusual warmer weather for this time of year, he got that privilege a few weeks ago. It was nice to look up from the computer on occasion and see him running around or sunbathing; in general, enjoying the unusual treat. What I observed, however, was that he often seemed to be in a “chase or hunt”. Typical of a terrier I thought, especially when squirrels seem to taunt him. Squirrels = barking though and his behavior was more stalking like. Eventually, I got up from my desk to see what he was doing. At first glance, I thought he had found a toy to throw up in the air and bat around. Imagine my surprise when I saw it was a lizard. He had not killed it, but he was most definitely torturing it. Ew, was he eating it?
I distracted him with an appropriate food treat and placed the lizard outside the fence and out of reach. I felt most certain it would not survive its fate. I then went back to work.
Unfortunately, this scenario continued two more times before I gave up, put him back in the house and got back to work. It did get me thinking. I know terriers are hunters and I felt certain that Jake’s behavior had occurred before, just that I hadn’t been privy to it. I also knew that our average, green, Georgian lizard was not poisonous like the Gila Monster or Mexican Bearded Lizard that is found in the Southwest. What I didn’t know was if he could get sick if he did decide to eat his newfound toys.
When I got back to work at the actual hospital the next day, I asked our veterinarians if they knew of any potential illnesses or parasites a dog could get from eating a lizard. They quickly put my mind at ease that he may throw up if he ate one or two but, otherwise, he should be fine. I am sure others have had this experience with their dogs and certainly with their cats. Hopefully, if this is the case, I can put your mind at ease that, other than the yuck factor, nothing serious (at least not for your pet, the lizard is another story) will come of this game. The veterinarians did point out that there were skinks here locally that may cause some issues, especially in cats. I guess that will become another blog!
Certainly, I will try to discourage this behavior from Jake when I am present for it. But now I know that it won’t put him in harm’s way.