Disgusting – didn’t he just lick you on the face?
It is unknown why dogs do this, but theories such as boredom, confinement, stress, diet or health problems have been linked to this behavior. Coprophagy usually does little harm, but can infect your dog with intestinal parasites (roundworms, hookworms and whipworms) and fecal bacteria (giardia and coccidia). You can’t always be aware of what your dog is eating. Which is why it is so important to get your dog checked for intestinal parasites and dewormed at your veterinarian at least twice a year.
Some dogs will eventually outgrow it and others can be much more difficult to stop. Your veterinarian carries deterrent products that are added to your dog’s food (and any other pets in the house if your dog eats their poop). Coproban and For-Bid are the most common veterinary prescribed medications. I have also heard that feeding your dog pineapple helps deter the behavior.
So how do I stop it?
- Clean up all the feces in your yard asap. The longer the waste sits out there, the easier it will be for intestinal parasites to infect your dog.
- Provide regular exercise as your dog may be doing this out of boredom.
- Feeding your dog on a schedule or in a treat ball, multiple times a day can help you predict his potty time and may actually fix the problem.
- Prevent access to other dog waste and the cat box!
- Switching your dog’s food to a hydrolyzed diet that is lower in protein has helped in certain cases.
- Do not punish your dog for eating poop.
- Walk the dog on a leash, if he does not try to eat the poop, use positive reinforcement with treats or a clicker to train the dog to know what is expected from him.
- If he does try to eat the poop, do something to divert his attention. Throw a ball, have him sit or lay down. Then you can reward that behavior.
- Get a prescription from your veterinarian for a coprophagia deterrent.
Notify your veterinarian if any of the following occur:
- Blood in your pet’s feces
It’s a nasty habit but we still love our dogs!