By Dr. Sherry Weaver
We have two dogs, and Lola, our youngest who is almost two years old, loves to eat poop. Now that she is eating poop, our other dog Bo, who is three years old, has copied her in this bad habit. Why do dogs eat poop, and how can we discourage them from eating it? Thank you, Dr. Sherry\’s answer: Dear JoAnn, Eating feces is normal with many different animal species. In dogs, it is not part of the digestive process, but it is a normal cleaning behavior in mother dogs with pups. Some dogs eat stool even without puppies in a misguided attempt to clean either the yard or their kennel. This can easily turn into a habit. Malnourishment Malnourished dogs who lack nutrients in their diet or are unable to digest the nutrients in their food may resort to eating partially digested food in poop in order to meet their nutritional needs. Consult your vet about the best diet for your dog, and also to rule out any existing medical problem associated with coprophagia, the scientific name for the act of dogs eating their own or other animalsв feces.
Breaking the habit After addressing dietetic needs, and ruling our medical conditions, you\’ll have to break the habit. There are two approaches to stopping the behavior. The most common approach is to use either Adolph\’s meat tenderizer or a product called \”For-bid\”. These products are supposed to give the stool a bitter flavor when eaten. In my experience, these products are only successful some of the time. Another approach that may work better is to find the stool in the yard and cover it with a hot sauce, such as Habanero sauce, that will be uncomfortable to eat but cause no real damage. After a bite or two, most dogs will decide it isn\’t worth it. Good luck, -Dr. Weaver What do you feed your dog? Tell us what your dog\’s diet is like in the comments. Feed our dog a healthy and balanced diet. This will keep a dog\’s digestive system healthy and provide him with all the nutrients that his body needs. An easy way to provide our dog with a balanced diet is through high-quality kibble.
Make sure the kibble has good protein sources that are from meat, rather than from grains, which are more difficult for our dogs to digest. Stay away from kibble that contains gluten (e. g. wheat gluten). Compared to meat protein, gluten is. Keep a consistent feeding schedule and supervise their poop time. A consistent eating schedule will also keep a dog\’s stool regular. This makes it easier to supervise, and prevent our dog from eating his own poop. Scheduled feedings will also help to prevent overeating and obesity issues down the road. Exercise your dog and keep him busy. Play fun games with your dog, walk him regularly and do frequent obedience training sessions. A well-exercised dog is better-behaved at home, and less likely to eat poop out of boredom. Keep the environment clean. If there is no free poop lying about then our dog cannot engage in opportunistic stool eating. Reduce stress. Try to reduce our own stress and keep our dog relaxed. When we are calm, our dog will have an easier time staying calm as well.
This results in a better quality of life for everyone and will stop stool eating behavior that results from stress. Teach your dog the \”Leave-It\” command. \” Leave it! \” helps us communicate to our dog what is acceptable to eat, and what is not. Poop is unacceptable to eat, as are some such as oleander, and some, such as onions and chocolates, which are poisonous to our dogs. Make the poop taste bad. One of the most common ways to stop stool eating is to make the poop taste bad to our dogs. Adding meat tenderizer to dog food is one way to do this. Canned pumpkin, spinach, and pineapple juice may work as well. However, this only works when we have full control of the environment. In addition, it only targets the symptoms of poop eating, rather than addressing the issue at its source. (Note: Consult the vet first before adding any of these to your dog\’s food. Adding too much may be bad for a dog and cause digestive issues. A dog may also be allergic to some of these ingredients. )