Coprophagia: That’s just Nasty! : When dogs eat their own poop

Eating poop has got to be one of the most disgusting habits in which dogs engage. Eating poop, otherwise known as coprophagia, is a common natural behavior that compels dogs to consume feces, which is naturally disgusting to their human companions.  If your dog engages in this behavior, you may be wondering why, and more importantly, how can you get him to stop.

Coprophagia is a natural instinct.  

Mother dogs eat their puppie’s feces to hide them from predators, and it is common for puppies to taste and try to eat it.  Not only that, at least one of the puppies will be the clean up dog, otherwise known as the designated doo eater.

Coprophagia can signal Malnutrition, Poor Husbandry, or Boredom

A dog that is hungry, eating a low quality diet, has digestive issues or has parasites will sometimes engage in coprophagia because his instincts are telling him that he is not getting enough nutrients. Another reason a dog will eat poo is out of boredom, loneliness or stress.  A dog that is confined to a kennel, small yard, or chained may eat his feces to occupy himself or clean his personal space.  Coprophagia may signal that your dog needs better food, deworming, more daily exercise, mental stimulation, or interaction with you.

How do I get my Dog to STOP!?

Enough about why your dog is doing it: let’s talk about solutions! First, see your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical problems such as parasites or digestive problems.

If your dog is healthy, then the key to stopping coprophagia is to bar access. Clean up after your dog, right after he goes and before he has a chance to eat it.  Be sure to clean your dog’s area every day and don’t interact with your pet while you are cleaning.

Walk your dog on leash so that you are in a better position to physically keep him from trying to sniff and eat poo, and distract your dog with small treats.  This will convey the idea that it is more rewarding to attend to you than to attend to the poo.

Make the feces taste terrible by using a product like FORBID, or try adding two to four tablespoons of canned spinach to the food bowl each day: apparently it tastes terrible on the backend.  Alternately, you could try coating the stools with hot sauce or lemon juice.

Lastly, but perhaps most important, make sure your dog is eating a balanced and properly formulated diet.  Choose a diet that uses animal products as the primary source of protein and fat because they are more easily metabolized.  Avoid the ingredients soy, corn, corn gluten and wheat gluten, as they can be difficult to digest, which means less nutrition and more clean up – both of which you are trying to avoid.  I recommend Life’s Abundance foods: they are highly digestable and excellent quality.

In summary, the steps to stopping coprophagia are:

·         feed a balanced, high quality diet;

·         provide lots of exercise and interaction;

·         keep kennels and yards clean;

·         avoid confining your dog for long periods of time;

·         and get a check up from your local veterinarian.

 

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