“Yuck!” you say. But your dog ignores your disgust and gobbles up his own or another dog’s latest deposit. How can that possibly appeal to any dog and how on earth do you stop such unsavory behavior? The obvious remedy may be to scoop the poop before your pup ever has the chance to snatch it up, but that is not always possible.
Eating feces is normal behavior for mother dogs when her pups are tiny and are depositing poop in their living quarters. Beyond that, however, coprophagia, (the veterinary term for eating poop), is not normal or healthy for dogs. So here are some why’s and how to’s for stopping your dog from eating poop.
Why #1: Nutrients missing from their diet.
Dogs that are not getting all they need from their diet may eat feces in an attempt to get additional nutrition. Two possible reasons for this are low quality food (like grocery store dog food) or inadequate digestion.
If you’ve been buying dog food on a budget, do some research to find the best food you can for the money. Read our article about choosing a good food and then read labels carefully when you shop (preferably not at the grocery store).
If you are feeding a decent quality food and your dog still eats his own or his house-mates poop, then consider adding digestive enzymes to their food to help them fully break down the food for digestion and absorption of the nutrients. A good multivitamin is also recommended – especially for growing or older dogs.
Why #2: Poorly digested food still smells and tastes good – even out the other end.
This is related to #1 – if a dog is not fully digesting his food, then the feces will still smell and taste like the kibble. Digestive enzymes are easy to give – only 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of a flavorless powder sprinkled on the food. It is the easiest remedy to try first when you are trying to stop this unwanted behavior.
Why #3: Increased hunger.
Dogs that are really hungry will eat whatever is available – including feces. If your dog’s hunger has recently increased check for thyroid issues, parasites, anemia or other health conditions. A trip to the vet may be in order if your companion’s appetite grows unexpectedly or has started losing weight on the same amount of food and exercise.
Why #4: Boredom.
If your dog spends time home alone, leave treat-stuffed toys or chews available to help occupy her time. Make sure she is getting plenty of exercise before she is left alone so that napping will take up some of her alone time. Lack of exercise is the number one cause for behavior issues in dogs. A tired, contented dog is less likely to play with or eat her own poop.
Why #5: Habit.
Once poop eating has gone on long enough, it may become a habit. If you try better food, digestive enzymes and multi-vitamins and cannot curb your dogs poop eating behavior, you will need to remove the temptation. Keep your dog on a leash when they go out to potty and then scoop up the poop before they get a chance to eat it. It may take several weeks of keeping an immaculate yard before your dog loses interest.