Coprophagia is dogs eating their own stools or other dogs stools, yuck!  Unfortunately, we have all seen our dogs do this at one point or another. A lot of puppies do this and we all hope and pray that they grow out of this bad behavior, but there are a few dogs that do not.  So why does my dog think its poop is so delicious?

While most commonly this is thought to be a purely behavioral act, there are a few possible medical reasons that can cause your dog to do this.  Some dogs lack or are unable to absorb nutrients in their gastrointestinal system because of a disease process, causing them to be hungry all the time. A physical exam and possibly some diagnostic testing will rule out any abnormalities.  Food can also be to blame in these cases.  Not every food out there may work with your dog.  If your pet is not absorbing the nutrients from the food that they are eating, then this can also lead nutritional problems.  Intestinal parasites can also steal away nutrients from your pet, causing them to lack in the proper absorption of nutrients.  All these reasons above can in turn lead your dog to thinking their poop is an irresistible meal.

Behavior issues can also be to blame, especially in younger dogs.  They are curious about what stools are and think it is a play toy.  They like to investigate it, play with it, or even testing their scavenging skills.  It has also been thought that dogs display this behavior because ancestrally dogs would eats, smell or lick each other feces to detect illness, if members of pack were near by, etc.

How can I keep my dog from doing this?  The best and most effective treatment is easy, clean up after your dog immediately after they go.  If the stool is not there, then your dog cannot eat it.  You should accompany your pet outside (sometimes keeping track of when their bowel movements typically happen is helpful).  After they go, give them a command, such as “sit” (if they listen to you, always reward good behavior), and clean up the feces.  If your pet does not do this, and you see them sniffing and walking swiftly toward the stools, you should give a strong command.  Do not chase them, they will think it is a game and will probably go for the poop faster.  Also doing old school tricks such as putting their faces by it, does not work.  Giving them a firm command and calmly approaching them or giving them another command such as “come” will allow you to them put them back in the house while you clean up the yard.  You can also distract them with noise devises to get them off the trail of stools.  All medical conditions should be treated appropriately.  Depending on what the cause may be, your veterinarian will devise a plan of action.

There are also products such as “Forbid”.  This is meant to be put in your pets food.  After going through your pets digestive system, it will make their stools bitter tasting.  Hopefully discouraging them from eating it again.  This product works on some dogs and not well on others.  There are many similar products out there with the same type of guarantee.  It is fairly simple to administer, so trying it is always encouraged.

If you have any further questions, please call the Village Veterinary Clinic of Hamburg.  716-646-4023!