From the Greek “eating feces,” coprophagia (copro – feces, phagia – eat) is the act of eating feces, and is often seen in dogs. Though not at all uncommon, most of us cringe at the thought of our furry friends eating poop and then have him come over and give us a big wet kiss. Yuck! But, you’re not alone, and neither is your dog. According to a small study led by Dr. Benjamin Hart (University of California), research showed 16% were serious stool eaters, having been caught 5 times, while 24% had eaten feces at least one time. Whatever the case, because it’s unhealthy (unless they are eating their own) and it is extremely disgusting, you have to learn how to stop your dog from eating poop. To do that, you must understand why he does it.

Why Does My Dog Eat Poop?

Puppies commonly eat feces, which happens to be a natural behavior, as they are still learning and discovering new things. Most are attracted to hard stools, especially frozen ones, which is how the term “poopsicle” came to be. However, most will overcome this “natural behavior” as they grow, but one that continues to do so into adulthood (past their first birthday) may be difficult to retrain.

How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Poop

If you have ever punished your dog for eliminating somewhere, he may associate this punishment with the mess, so this may lead him to clean up (any way he can) in order to avoid reprimanding.

Overfeeding may cause a dog to eat poop, as does a lack of Vitamin B. A dog’s inability to absorb nutrients can also cause coprophagia, which may also be indicative of pancreatic health problems or possibly parasites. As such, you should schedule a visit to your veterinarian.

Another reason for coprophagia is for the dog to get more required protein, which may be more apparent when there are cats in the home. Cat poop is higher in protein, and some dogs, unfortunately, love it.

Eating poop can also be a sign of behavioral issues, such as a dog seeking for attention. If a dog feels neglected, lonely, or bored, he’ll try to get any attention from his owners, including the negative reaction they’d get from fecal matter consumption.

Some experts believe that dogs eat poop as a way to gain more information about the animal that left behind his/her calling card.

How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Poop Tips

Don’t punish your dog if he eliminates in the home or in a place he shouldn’t.

If your dog is feeling neglected, try to provide him with more interaction. Take a few minutes to play fetch, go for a longer walk, or even cuddle more with your pooch. Both mental and physical stimulation may help to retrain him.

Taste-aversion products can be sprayed directly onto poop to produce a smell and a taste that is revolting to dogs. These products are made with various ingredients, like garlic, pepper-plant derivatives, chamomile, and numerous others. Try “For-bid” which will make the stool taste bitter. However, while these products do work, they are not guaranteed to work, as it depends on the dog.

 

You may also change your dog’s diet to ensure he’s getting the adequate nutrients. Vitamin supplementation can help, especially Vitamin B. It is highly recommended to see your veterinarian before making any changes.

Enzyme supplementation may also help. Dog food today consists of higher carbs and lower meat fats and proteins.

Quickly remove any stools from the dog’s living area.

Carefully supervise your dog when out on walks.

Retrain! This doesn’t have to be difficult to do. When your dog eliminates, give him a command to come to you immediately and give him a treat. [1]

In homes with cats, ensure there are no poops in the litter box. Also, to be safe, keep the litter box out of your dog’s reach.

What Health Issues are Associated with Coprophagia?

A dog that eats poop can become infected with worms and other diseases. The more he sniffs and eats it, the more at risk he is to fall ill, although the risk is lower in vaccinated dogs.

 

References:

[1] Veterinary Behavior Consultants

AKC