22 November 2013

Coprophagy - Why Do Dogs Eat Their Poop and What To Do to Stop It?

My dog ate her poop, and she smeared it everywhere, and then she did it again and again. Bebe is slowly approaching her 11th birthday and she's started to eat her poop. This dog behavior is called coprophagy and it is gross! I've started researching the condition because I obviously want to make it stop at any cost. Turns out that in my research I found that this behavior is quite common; it is more common in puppies but can also happen to dogs later in their lives. For example, Bebe never consumed her feces as a puppy but here we are a decade into her life and she's chowing down on it.


Here Are Some of The Reasons That Dogs Actually Consume Their Own Feces:
1.       Dogs evolved from wolves, back than wolves survived from chowing down on human garbage and human excrement. So if we think about it, dogs eat anything that is laying around that may have nutritional value, including poop!
2.       Malabosorption - Not all coprophagy is normal or risk-free. Dogs with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, a form of a malabsorption syndrome may eat their feces in order to try to recover the nutrients that they didn’t absorb in their normal digestions. Coprophagy may develop in a dog that is eating a low quality diet, so if your dog is eating poop and you’re buying the cheapest chow in the store because it’s the one on sale and you have a coupon well perhaps you should try purchasing some higher quality food that has nutrition and nutrients in mind. I personally recommend Rotations Dog Food.
3.       Starvation - Dogs who are starving will also resort to eating their own feces, and yes that sounds gross but have you ever seen the movie 127 hours? Desperate times call for desperate measures!
4.       Habit – ever hear that dogs don’t like to soil their nests or where they lay their head to sleep? Well, for the pups that are crate trained it only takes a few times for an accident to happen. A dog may poop, eat the poop and eliminate the mess that was originally there. Have that happen a few times and poof! A habit is born. A very gross and stinky habit!
Is It Bad for Dogs to Eat Poop?
Aside from an upset stomach and a gross tasting kiss and lick from dog to human, coprophagy does not seem to do any harm to most healthy and vaccinated pups.
How to Prevent Your Dog From Eating Poop:
OK, so while the poop may not harm your pup, it’s definitely gross. It smells gross, looks gross, and tastes gross after a kiss from your fellow fur friend and oh yeah, I’m talking from experience. So let’s talk about what you can do to prevent this absolutely disgusting behavior.
  1. See no poop? Eat no poop! Make sure there is no poop laying around, clean up promptly after your pet releases themselves and if you take them outside make sure the grounds are clean!
  1. Firmly tug at leash and speak firm command when dog lures to smell or lick other animals poop. “No that is bad!” or “Leave It!” for example.
What About Taste Deterrents?
I’ve tried every deterrent under the sun. The ones available over the counter and the ones prescribed only by a vet. Bottom line is this, the ones over the counter just don’t work in my experience. My dog actually thought she was getting a treat with the hot sauce and the bitter apple taste deterrent. The problem that I faced with the commercial grade deterrents were that they did not have any effect on feces besides that of that particular dog. For me this was an issue since I have two dogs. I don’t want to feed one chemicals who is not eating her poop just because the other one will eat it. The commercially available taste deterrents that you can give to your dog that are available from your vet are For-bid™ and Deter™. Personally I’ve had wonderful results with the For-bid and really recommend it. Ask your vet if they carry it or contact the company directly to see which vet in your area carries it.
What NOT to Do
  1. Don’t rub your dog’s nose in the poop. I don’t even recommend this when dogs have accidents. Too much time passes and it is not an effective training method. Your dog may become scared of you and after you do this you’re  going to have to wash his/her face.  
  1. As it should go without saying, do not hit your dog, I know that this poop eating habit is unpleasant but please try the above mentioned tactics. Fixing and preventing the issue is far better than adding to it, hitting your dog, even if with a light tap of a newspaper may cause fear and aggression.
Summary
If your dog does eat poop and none of the above methods work, than you should definitely take your dog to the vet and rule out a more serious problem such as an absorption of nutrients problem, parasites, or issues with their pancreas. I hope this blog post helped you with your very stinky situation! Until the next...