My Dog, the Poop Eater; Corprophagia

Probably one of the most offensive and unattractive things a dog or puppy can do is seek out an consume his own waste. This is such a common occurrence that almost anyone who has ever owned a dog has been witness to this canine practice. As pet owners and dog lovers, we want to protect our fur kids the same way any parent would and stop this habit. First though, we must learn why our precious pooches subject us to view this ghastly behavior so we can end it at it’s source!

The cause

There is speculation as to why dogs love to eat poop. Almost all dogs love to eat the feces of other animals, especially cats. This is most likely due to the taste aspect, as inconceivable as it may seem! Others may develop the habit of eating their own waste from puppy hood, particularly if they were not raised in a clean whelping pen. These dogs are also known to have potty training problems, unable to fully grasp the concept of not eliminating where his living quarters are!

Other reasons could be a lack in nutrition in the dog’s diet. In the wild, many species of animals including canines such as coyotes and wolves will eat their own feces to reabsorb passed nutrients. Check the quality of your dog’s food ingredients. Does your dog food brand of choice import a synthetic blend of vitamins and minerals or are all nutritional qualities in the kibble based from whole foods such as meats and vegetables? Consider switching to a fresh diet, either raw or cooked, to make sure your dog really is getting all the benefits of a healthy diet!

According to WebMD.com, dogs with illnesses such as Cushing’s disease and diabetes are also known to partake in corprophagia. Not only is the eating of stools unsightly and can make any human who views such a behavior to become disgusted, but it can actually cause harm to your dog. Especially when eating the fecal matter of other animals, the spread of internal parasites can become a danger. The use of a fecal exam from your veterinarian can rule out parasites that may cause the eating of feces as well as determine if your pooch ingested parasites while eating stool.

The fix

Probably the easiest and most obvious way to end your dog’s poop eating habit is to pick up his waste as soon as it hits the ground. Not only will this encourage cleaner habits for the both of you, but it will make it impossible for him to eat it if it is not within his reach! You can use regular plastic grocery store bags that you have saved after shopping trips to pick up dog waste, or purchase colorful bags made specifically for this purpose. Simply put your hand into the bag and pick up the waste, then turn the bag inside out and the poop is neatly in the bag without you touching it!

If your dog has been looked over by a veterinarian and there is no health concerns that could cause corprophagia, it is time to start looking into training techniques to dissuade your dog from continuing in this practice. Always take your dog to his elimination spot on leash, just as if you were house training him all over again. Right after he has finished going potty, he should be praised and moved away from the area. If you can, clean up the mess first and then have a play session. After doing this as a habit, he will learn that moving away from his potty place is far more fun than eating poop!

There are products on the market that is meant to make your dog’s poop distasteful so that he will not wish to eat it. These are usually meaty flavors chewable pills or powders that you add to his food or give as a treat. They are safe, and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t! It all completely depends on each individual dog. There are other items you can add to your dog’s food that some claim to make his feces unappetizing such as meat tenderizers, canned pumpkin, and vitamin-B complex. Again, it may work for some dogs, but not for all!

Your best bet is to simply keep your dog away from feces! Clean up after him the moment he has finished with his business so that he cannot turn around and eat his own waste. If on a walk and you come across another dog’s droppings you should be able to tell your dog to “Leave it!” on command so that he will walk away and provide his full attention back to you. Start teaching him this command indoors so that he gets the hang of it first! With a bit of training, a diet change and a vet check up your dog can quickly stop the act of corprophagia!