Believe it or not, eating poop is a normal behavior in dogs. Although many pet parents find this habit called “coprophagia” disgusting, it is widely practiced whether or not their owners know it.
Vets aren’t exactly sure why dogs eat feces, but many believe that it boils down to evolutionary habits developed in the interest of cleanliness. Breeders know that coprophagia in nursing mother dogs is common as a means of encouraging defecation in her young and keeping the nest clean.
Although most dogs grow out of this behavior as they age, many dogs practice it throughout their lives. Fortunately for these dogs and their handlers, there are ways to stop this yucky habit.
Boost the Dog’s Diet: In order to discourage coprophagia and resolve any nutrient deficiencies that may be driving the behavior, focus on boosting your dog’s diet with high-quality dog foods. A nutritionally balanced diet can possibly help put an end to the behavior.
Pick up Feces Immediately: If your dog is eating her own feces, the easiest way to prevent the problem is to ensure that you clean up feces immediately, thus preventing the dog from finding an opportunity to ingest it. Keeping your yard clean is a great way to keep other undesirable wildlife away and also to stop coprophagia.
Work on “Leave It”: Having a solid recall cue is important for all dogs and may be the key to breaking feces-eating habits in pups. When a dog has mastered the concept of “leave it”, it is much easier for a handler to discourage a dog that is caught in the act.
Purchase a Deterrent: if all else fails and your dog is still eating feces, purchase a store-bought taste deterrent. Although these materials do not harm dogs, they serve to make the feces taste badly (or perhaps, even worse than usual) and thus deter your dog from eating it.
Rule out Veterinary Issues
If your dog has recently developed issues with coprophagia, take them to a local veterinarian for a comprehensive health check. It is important to rule out any diseases that could be leading to deficiencies in certain nutrients.
If your Dog Raids the Cat Box
For many dogs, raiding the cat box is just too tempting to resist. Unfortunately, ingesting litter can be dangerous for dogs. The easiest way to put an end to this habit is to ensure that the cat box is out of your dog’s reach. Enclosing it in a seldom-used room with a cat door is one option, while locking the cat box in a special cat-accessible cupboard is another. While eating cat feces is very common in dogs, it is not a good habit and should be discouraged.
Although coprophagia is a disgusting habit, it manifests in many dogs throughout their puppy- or adulthood. Fortunately for these dogs and their pet parents, there are ways to stop a dog from eating feces. Prevention is the easiest method, followed closely by training and deterrents. No matter what you choose, rest assured that most dogs can be dissuaded from their coprophagia habits.