My Dog Eats Poop, Coprophagia, Ask Victoria Stilwell

posted: 05/15/12
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"Victoria, we've seen the episodes where you deal with dogs that eat poop.  One suggestion was to feed the dog pineapple.  We used your advice for my dog and it seemed to work for a few days, but after that she is back to eating her feces!  Help!" — forum user rebeccaacessories

"My 7 month Australian Shepherd is eating my 5 year old Boxer's poop. We feed her 2 times a day, dry food." — lrodrig

"I have 2 yellow labs. One is 12 years old and the other is a 9 month old. The little one thinks the older one's poop is gold and loves to eat it and wont stop until we chase him away from it. We've tried peppering it and feeding them pineapple, as I've seen on the show. I think they like it even more. Now the old one has started eating the little one's poop. I know a solution is to just pick it up right away, but that's not always an option. Are there any other trade secrets to stop this? Thanks!" —lostinreality92

Pineapple is just one of many measures you can take to deter your dog from eating poop, but every dog is different. Believe it or not, this is a normal behavior for dogs that is just really disgusting to us.

There are different reasons a dog might eat poop (Coprophagia is the clinical term) and it is important to find out why they are eating it before you can find a solution.  A lot of dogs will eat poop because they are bored - it will become a toy, another source of play. Some dogs that might have come from pet stores or puppy mills may especially see it as a toy because their earlier environment was so barren.  Depending on where your dogs come from, this could be a possibility.  Sometimes it is a learned behavior they've picked up from other dogs.  If they've been punished for going in the house, they might eat it to remove the evidence.  It's also a good way to get attention.  Ask yourself if your dog is being stimulated enough mentally and physically to occupy it during the day?  These are all reasons why a dog might be eating poop, but most of the time, it's really simply because dogs like the taste of it and it becomes a real habit.

Dogs like the taste of it?!

If your dog is on "the supermarket diet" (low-grade dog food), sometimes the food almost tastes the same going out as it did going in—kind of two meals in one for your dogs.  Not a lot of good stuff is absorbed into the body with most low-grade dog food so you should consider changing your dog's food to a higher-grade food or speak to your vet about changing your dog's diet.  There are other products a vet can recommend to add to the food that might help dissuade your dog from eating it.  Sometimes this helps, sometimes it doesn't. 

The only sure way to make sure it doesn't happen is to supervise the dog during bathroom time to remove it immediately.  You have to be aware and re-direct the behavior to something else.  Clean-up is so important.  Go around your entire backyard to make sure you haven't missed anything.  It is also important to make sure your dog is kept up-to-date on its vaccinations and is regularly wormed.

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