Some dogs and puppies eat stool, which could stem from digestive problems, the dog’s diet or health conditions. Several methods exist to deter the behavior.
Some untrained dogs practice coprophagia. While the word sounds sophisticated, it actually just means that these dogs eat poop. It could be the dog’s own stool, the cat’s or any other organism’s feces.
Causes of Coprophagia in Dogs
In some cases, coprophagia is a normal behavior. For example, a bitch often eats its puppies’ stool to maintain a clean living area so that harmful bacteria have no chance of developing there. Naturally curious puppies also often eat their own poop as they explore the wonders of the sense of taste. Most puppies discard the nasty habit as they grow up.
Non-nursing adult dogs should not eat feces; those that do might suffer from a compulsive disorder or other medical conditions. The dog might have digestive problems that cause ineffective digestion, gastrointestinal upset, or increase in stool appeal as food. The dog might also suffer from a disease that increases appetite such as diabetes, Cushing’s disease, thyroid disease or diseases that require the dog to take steroids. Generally, stool that contains much undigested material is usually more likely to be eaten by the dog.
Dogs might also eat stool because they are fed an inappropriate type of food, particularly if it is high in protein and low in fiber. Irregular feeding schedule, boredom, lack of attention and not enough food could also cause coprophagia.
Medical Conditions and Digestive Problems in Dogs
Because coprophagia could stem from medical conditions, the dog should visit a vet to rule out medical causes and seek treatment that only a vet can provide. For example, a compulsive disorder might require prescription anti-depressant medications to treat.
If the culprit turns out to be the dog’s diet, the vet might recommend a diet with more digestible food materials or a diet that draws protein from a different source. Overweight dogs could fare better on a high fiber diet that will not cause weight problems such as Hill’s r/d Prescription diet.
Enzyme supplements for dogs such as Forbid and Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer could increase protein absoption and produce unpleasant tasting stool. Other products in the market that could help stop coprophagia in dogs include Deter 8 in 1, Potty Mouth, Drs. Foster & Smith Dis-Taste, Coproban, S.E.P., Stop Tablets, NaturVet Coprophagia Deterrent and Nasty Habit.
Home Remedies and Training
Several home remedies are purported to deter dogs from eating stool because they make the stool taste unpleasant. These remedies include papaya, yogurt, cottage cheese, pineapple and crushed breath mints. To treat a coprophagic dog, an additive should be moistened, mixed with dog food and allowed to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before being fed to the dog. While no scientific data supports the use of these items, there is no harm in trying these relatively inexpensive remedies.
A dog can also learn that the behavior is unacceptable if it receives a firm command, punishment or a tug on the leash when it eats poop. To remove possibility of the dog eating stool, its owner can also pick up all stools immediately, lead the dog away from stools right after elimination, and supervising the dog all the time when it is outdoors. Because the dog might eat stool because of environmental factors and lack of attention, the dog should also have plenty of opportunity for exercise and plenty of quality time with its owner.
According to PetPlace.Com, a single measure only solves the problem occasionally. For best results, the dog owner should combine a few methods and carry out the program for at least six months. Some dogs that don’t respond to the program might suffer from an obsessive-compulsive disorder and require veterinary attention.