Help–My Dog Is Eating Poop!

If you’ve ever owned a dog, you may have encountered this lovely little quirk.  The technical term is coprophagia, or the eating of feces.  Some dogs have an extreme love of this forbidden fruit:   their own, from another dog, from the cat (extra special), or from rabbits (gourmet treat).

Given that this is a fairly common and relatively “normal” behavior, let’s start with the obvious question:

Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

Over the ages, dogs may have played a role in waste management (pardon the pun) in certain communities by eating all types of feces.  Typically we don’t have that need today, but nursing dogs with young pups may eat feces to keep the den clean.  The mother also teaches the new puppies how to defecate (by licking their bottoms to stimulate the reflex to have a bowel movement).

For the majority of dogs today, the answer to our question may simply be this–they like the taste of it!

What Does It Mean If My Dog Eats Feces?

In most cases it may mean nothing at all.  It usually is not serious, but be sure to rule out any medical condition that might be an underlying issue. It never hurts to check with us and we’ve had plenty of phone calls about this, so you are in good company if you ask.  In some dogs there may be a medical reason or dietary problem at play.

Please Make Him Stop!

    • Keep your dog on a short leash and supervised at all times.  Try a Gentle Leader or in extreme cases a muzzle.  This is easier said than done, but it works.
    • Be vigilant in cleaning up after your dogs.  This is harder to do with the rabbit delights we realize, but it is a sure fire way to get it out of sight and out of mind (or mouth).
    • Some “home remedies” to try (but always check with your veterinarian first to make sure it is safe for your pet):  Adolph’s meat tenderizer sprinkled on their food or canned pumpkin, about a tablespoon or so, mixed in with their food.
    • There are commercial products as well, both in powder and chewable treats that owners can try.  Call us if you need these options.
    • Some things work better than others.  Be patient and keep trying.

Should I Be Concerned?

Besides the obvious horrendous breath and the fact that your dog may want to give you big sloppy kisses after eating a tasty treat, there are a variety of parasites your dog may ingest.  Things like roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms and coccidia are all found in feces.  Some of these can be transmitted to you or your family members as well.  At times, eating too much stool can make your dog sick and vomit or cause pancreas issues.

We always recommend twice yearly testing of your dog’s stool to check for these parasites to keep your dog and your family healthy.