My dog likes to eat cat poop the best, and if the kitty “cookies” are covered in litter – even better. It grosses me out, but it doesn’t change the fact that if I want my dog to stop eating poop, I have to figure out why she is eating it to begin with.
If your dog has a poop-eating habit, then you have come to the right place. Let’s break it down.
What Causes Coprophagia?
There are several reasons why your dog might be eating poop. It’s most likely because dogs like it – that’s right, they like the taste of poop.
PetEducation.com says, “A lot of theories have been suggested as to why dogs eat feces. Are they missing something in their diet? Generally not. Dogs who eat their feces usually do not have a dietary deficiency.”
Dr. Jon Rappaport from PetPlace.com adds, “Other dogs will eat feces out of boredom, because they just ‘like it,’ or others may eat it because of a nutritional deficiency (rare).”
If you refuse to believe, like I do, that your dog simply likes the taste of poop, rest assured it could be something else and is worth further investigation.
According to Dog Training Central, these are some of the reasons dogs eat poop:
- It simply tastes good to your dog.
- It could be a symptom of <anxiety, stress or boredom.
- Puppies may have a vitamin or mineral deficiency, and eat feces to restore this balance.
- If you punish your puppy for eliminating inside your house, in the future he may eat his poop to ”hide the evidence” because he thinks he was punished for pooping, not for pooping in the wrong area.
- It could be that your dog is cleaning up his living area, which should be your job.
- Sometimes dogs eat feces because they are copying the behavior of other dogs.
- Females with a young litter of pups will often eat the puppy’s droppings to keep the area clean and to help conceal the litter from any predators.
- If you overfeed your dog, he doesn’t properly digest his food, so his feces still smell and taste like his dinner.
- If you only feed your dog once a day, he may become very hungry and scavenge around for any food (including poo).
- Some dogs may develop coprophagia if they are taking certain medications or antibiotics.
- A dog may eat the feces of a sick dog in an attempt to conceal or protect the sick dog from predators.
- Some dogs develop coprophagia when their diet is changed, especially to a diet high in fat.
How Can I Prevent Coprophagia?
World-renowned dog trainer Victoria Stillwell, host of “It’s Me or the Dog” on Animal Planet, offers this advice for prevention: “The only sure way to make sure it doesn’t happen is to supervise the dog during bathroom time to remove it immediately. You have to be aware and re-direct the behavior to something else. Clean-up is so important. Go around your entire backyard to make sure you haven’t missed anything. It is also important to make sure your dog is kept up-to-date on its vaccinations and is regularly wormed.”
PetEducation.com agrees: “The best way to prevent the problem is to keep yards and kennels free of feces.”
Paw-rescue.org offers the following advice for breaking your dog’s poop-eating habit:
- Change your dog’s diet. Buy or prepare only nutritious, quality food that is formulated for his age, breed and any medical issues.
- If your dog seems to be hungry, try feeding him a little more.
- Take your dog to your veterinarian to check for medical and health problems, parasites or other problems that may be compelling him to eat feces.
- Walk your dog on a leash so that you are in a better position to tell him to “Leave it” and to physically keep him from trying to sniff and eat stools. Praise your dog for listening, and reinforce the praise with treats.
- As soon as your dog starts approaching excrement, say, “Nah-ah-ahhh” or “Leave it!” Distract him with praise and a treat, or another appealing activity.
- If your dog defecates in the house, he needs to be fed and walked on a schedule that allows him to eliminate before you leave him alone for the day and before bedtime.
- If your dog is pooping in his crate, make sure he gets more exercise and has the chance to eliminate before you put him in his crate.
- There are products you can apply to the stools that will discourage your dog from eating them. These are available from pet-supply stores and your veterinarian.
- Some other alternatives suggested by Paw-rescue.org:
- Depending on your dog’s size, add 2 to 4 tablespoons of canned pumpkin to his food each day. Pumpkin apparently tastes good in food, but repugnant when expelled in excrement.
- Add a teaspoon or tablespoon, depending on your dog’s size, of canned pineapple, pineapple juice or spinach to his food.
- Add some meat tenderizer or MSG to his food.
- After your dog poops, sprinkle hot sauce or lemon juice on his stools. You can also try squirting hot sauce on some of the feces in your yard to discourage your dog from eating them.
Having a dog that eats poop is seriously disgusting, but not a serious health issue. The bottom line is, if you want your dog to stop, you’ll have to be the poop police and follow the steps given here to diligently curb your dog’s nasty habit.
Because eating stool could lead to some serious health problems, you can give your dog a supplement containing reishi mushroom. Reishi mushroom will not only give your dog’s immune system a boost, it will also enhance immune modulators, which are important for fighting viral and bacterial infections, as well as infections from parasites and worms.
Find A Vet HOW TO articles are intended for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your veterinarian about any health issues affecting your dog.