Mothballs and dogs. I have a lesson learned the hard way to share.

If my backyard were a map of the United States….my four dogs, Nina, Sophie, Bella and Miso, shit from Maine to California. No constipation problems in this house. Also, no dry or canned food for these dogs.

You see, I make their food.

Baked ground turkey, vegetables, and rice. My husband has been known to scoop some in a bowl, add salt, pepper, garlic powder and call it dinner. I started making dog food years ago when I was reading online about dogs dying from eating dog food manufactured in other parts of the world.

For my homemade doggie food, the three food groups are mixed, portioned for daily servings in baggies and frozen. One batch usually lasts 20 days. They eat every morning, while I have my protein shake.

It’s a good routine.

Twenty minutes after their breakfast, they are sitting at the back door. The backyard is what I call, and they know to be, “THE POTTY PLACE.”

If I am not paying attention to them, someone in the group lets me know with noises. I fully understand what they are really telling me, “On which side of the door do YOU want US to shit?”

I go out with them and watch that they are safe, because we have coyote and they can jump a ten-foot wall (our backyards have a concrete wall with a ledge). If coyotes were human they would all be playing for the NBA.

Coyote travel in packs, walking along the walls looking for rabbits, dogs and other small creatures. Coyote hunt any time of the day. It scares me. I’ve wondered if coyote are drawn to the smell of dogs… or their shit? I can’t usually smell dog shit but maybe coyote can. If the coyote saw my four, sweet dogs they would think they were at a buffet. It would be hard to protect four dogs at the same time.

This coyote thing has bothered me for a long time and I decided to address the problem.

Here were my options:

  • I could pick up the shit more often. I buy 80 rubber gloves to a box … lots of gloves for lots of shit, but to tell you the truth, I hate that job. Giving it to my husband to do, well I won’t even go there.
  • I could feed them less, but if you knew my dog, Sophie, who loves to eat and steals food from the others … she would run away and report abuse.
  • Maybe I can set new rules for the “POTTY PLACE.” Hmmmmmm. Maybe the backyard potty should be limited to one part of the backyard. Using the idea of the map again, let’s say “west of Denver.” If my dogs had a limited space for their waste disposal, the coyote might not be attracted to the backyard. I could pick up faster. Keep the backyard cleaner. This idea has promise.
  • Or … and this is where I over-think … I could distract the coyote with another smell.

Let me think…what smells bad and is cheap?


That’s it! I am so brilliant. They sell mothballs at the $1.00 store.

Done. I bought 6 boxes. I was impressed with myself, I mean, when was the last time you solved a problem for $6.00?

The coyote will hate the smell and stay away.

Guess what? The mothballs worked.

Using the map again… here was my plan. I put moth balls east of Denver. My dogs hated the smell and shit west of Denver near the trash basket, placed in California, but close enough.

And, to be extra thorough, I put moth balls around the whole outside of the house so the coyote would not come on the property. At all. And, I didn’t tell a soul. It’s pretty easy to do this in Arizona because most of us have gravel for yards. The mothballs fit right in, no one could tell by looking.

Well, being a good doggy mom and all, most mornings I open my front door so the dogs can watch people walk by. Arizona mornings are the best and are for opening up the front door…

UNLESS… you have mothballs all over the front yard.

The smell was so bad the first morning… I gagged.

Four dogs were pissed at me when I closed the door. But what could I do? Three of the boxes were in the front yard! It was awful.

Later that day I got a call. It was my friend, Marsha, from across the street.

“Susan… Barb and I just rode past your house on our bikes… and it smells like mothballs. Did you do something?”

“Well, I put a few out to deter the coyote.”

“Where did you read about that?” she asked.

“I didn’t read about it… I just thought it up.”

She started to laugh. “It smells awful… you have to pick them up.”

“Look… if it smells awful to you it will smell awful to the coyote.”

“Um, Ok… well then keep me posted.”

The mothball smell didn’t teach my dogs to shit in a new area only. They continued to shit all over the backyard. In fact, they just kept shitting and shitting. And shitting more.

On the third day they couldn’t tell me quick enough at the back door. They shit all over the house, because there was no time to tell me at the back door. It was dripping down their legs. The smell was unbelievable. Thankfully, I have tile and hardwood floors throughout the house. However, the good rugs are a different story. They have suffered in spots.

At first, I did not make the connection.

I knew there had to be a recent change. I went to the trash and read the mothball box.


Hmmm… I was having headaches. Nina, Sophie, Bella and Miso were sick, too. Oh, shit.

My husband and I had to take the dogs to the vet, and he said they could have died. 🙁

Bella was on an IV all day. They all received shots and medicine. The vet bill was over $1300.00. They were on medicine for seven days. Seven days! I charted the medicine and times for each dog. They each had two different probiotics and medicine to stop the runny poop. Medicine called Sucraifate Suspension and Metronidazole. Everything was given twice a day.

Anyone who has dogs knows that getting them to take pills isn’t easy. We have tricks up our sleeve though: Roast beef and cream cheese.

My husband bought roast beef slices and cream cheese, and I used that to make roll-ups, hiding the pills. For over a week my house was confined to the kitchen only for them. Furniture was turned to block off rooms. My bedspread went to the dry cleaners. I trimmed the hair off their asses so it was easier to wipe. Rolls of paper towel were everywhere.

“Look down when you walk,” I said to my husband.

I washed their rear ends, gave them extra bland food to eat, and held them. My doggies were so sick. I felt so bad.

Miso, my dog.

I put on rubber gloves, but this time I picked up mothballs. I still get a faint smell when the wind blows.

We just got the Visa bill with the vet charge. A constant reminder of my stupidity.

Update: Safe alternatives to toxic mothballs

Similar Posts:

Mothballs, Dogs, and Coyote Lesson – True Story (Guest Post From Mom)

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