Stool Eating in Dogs: Causes and SolutionsLast updated: August 02, 2016
Coprophagia is the technical term for stool or poop eating. It is a common problem for dog owners, and although it is disgusting, it is quite normal behavior for dogs. If you are able to find the underlying cause and if the cause is addressed appropriately, there is a good chance that you can stop the disgusting habit.
There are many reasons and theories for why dogs eat stool, including natural instinct, digestive/nutrition issues, a behavioral issue, boredom, hunger, or disease.
Natural InstinctThe concept of stool eating starts while a puppy is still in the litter. During this time, it is natural for a mother to eat her puppies' stool. She does this to keep the area clean and because she wants to protect her puppies from predators that might be drawn to the stool. This is a natural instinct, so even if there aren't predators around, the mother will still eat the stool.
Digestive/Nutrition IssuesStool eating may also be caused by digestive or nutrition problems. If your dog's food is low in nutrients, his food may come out similar to the way it went in. If this is the case, the stool may taste appealing to the dog.
It may help to switch to a higher quality food to ensure your dog is receiving all the nutrients he needs. A diet made from highly digestible, natural ingredients is best. It may also help to feed the dog more often during the day, while still feeding the same amount each day in smaller portions. If you have other pets, it may help to change their diets, as well. Different foods will cause the stool to smell and taste different, making it more or less appealing.
If this doesn't seem to help, your dog may be suffering from a problem with his digestive system and should be evaluated by your veterinarian.
BehaviorIt is within a puppy's natural instinct to be curious. A puppy's curiosity leads him to smell and taste things that are unappealing to us. This curiosity may lead him to start stool eating. Or your dog may simply be looking for attention. If you give him excessive attention (even if it is negative attention) when you catch him eating his stool, he may continue to do so just for the attention.
Dogs can become stressed for a variety of reasons, and this stress can cause them to eat their own stool. Your dog may be suffering from stress or boredom, resulting in him eating and playing with his own stool.
Finally, your dog may be stool eating because of your negative reactions. If you have gotten upset at the dog for having accidents, he may think defecating is wrong, causing him to eat his stool to hide the evidence.
Hunger/DiseaseYour dog may be drawn to eat his own stool if he is hungry. He might not be getting enough to eat during the day, or he could be infested with parasites and worms that are taking his food's nutrients.
Some diseases such as Cushing's disease, malabsorption disorders, intestinal disorders and diabetes can also cause dogs to be excessively hungry. Your veterinarian will be able to rule out any health concerns that may be causing this bad habit.
What to DoIf you see your dog eating stool, it is important not to become alarmed, punish the dog, or scare the dog. If your dog is suffering from stress, you will only cause further stress on him by punishing him for eating his stool. Instead of making a huge event out of stool eating, simply try to distract the dog and reward him when he leaves the stool.
One method to prevent your dog from stool eating is to immediately clean up after him and also to clean up after other pets, such as the cat's litter box. If you do this, your dog won't even have the chance to eat it.
Another method to try is to put your dog on a leash when you take him outside. When he defecates, do not allow him to play, eat or inspect his stool. Distract him from the stool and be sure to reward him with a treat and praise when he responds appropriately. If this doesn't work, you may need to muzzle the dog while he is around feces.
There are also many products available that are designed to stop stool eating. Doc Roy's® FeCease makes the stool taste terrible, plus it contains enhanced B vitamins to help deter stool eating. It should be fed to all dogs and cats in the household, including the dog eating the stool. You can also try FOR-BID which works by adding a forbidding taste to the stool.
You should also feed a digestive enzyme like Doc Roy's Absorb More to the dog that is eating the poop and the animal whose poop he is eating. This product provides the digestive enzymes necessary to completely digest and deliver all of the nutrients in your dog's daily diet. This will help ensure that your pets are getting the most out of their food and also that their poop will contain less nutrients.
Stool eating can be a tough habit to break, especially because some dogs will eat stool simply because they want to. However, if you can keep the dog from eating stools for a month, this is often long enough to break the habit permanently.
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-The Revival Education Team
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.