Preventing Coprophagia in Dogs

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What is the dog eating!?!? It's poop! If you want a fancier, more scientific term, it's called coprophagia. This is a relatively common habit with dogs and especially with puppies. In addition to being gross, fecal consumption can also introduce some vicious internal parasites into your hapless dog’s body.

Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?
The most likely scenario is that the dogs are going through an oral phase and are eating anything unusual, including poop. Many dogs will grow out of this habit, but some don't. Poop likely has nutritional value remaining, and dogs are by nature "opportunitivores" or scavengers and will eat anything that's handy.

"Kitty Crunchies" is a favorite "treat" for many dogs, and are easily found in your cat's litter box. Remember, almost any dog will eat cat poop if given the right circumstances and opportunity. Keep your dog away from cat feces because they will be exposed to Toxoplasma gondii, an organism that causes nerve and muscle damage. Puttin the litter box in a location, the cat, is able to get to, but the dog isn't is a good solution. Functional areas include behind a door or baby gate, and be sure to clean the litter box frequently to avoid temptation.

There have been cases where coprophagia is caused by medical reasons like exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, pancreatitis, certain malabsorption syndromes, infections, and even overfeeding a high-fat diet have all been contributors.

How to Manage Coprophagia - Unfortunately, once dogs acquire this habit, it's difficult to stop. The best way to end the practice is to take systematic steps.
  1. Go with your dog into the yard for exercise and bathroom breaks. Clean up poop immediately to prevent a mistake. Teaching your dog to poop in one location helps with managing coprophagia.
  2. Use products that discourage dogs from eating their own feces. We offer Four Paws® Potty Mouth®, a chewable tablet specially formulated to keep dogs from eating their own feces. Other products are made to sprinkle on your dog's food too.
  3. Teach your dog the "leave it" command. This will help prevent any grabbing a poop snack while you’re out walking. Keep him on a leash. Dogs can be quick, though, so you might consider using a basket muzzle while out walking with him.
  4. Split your dog's daily meals into more frequent (but smaller) portions so he won’t feel so hungry and ready to gobble anything. Feed the best food you can to make sure that he’s getting all the nutrients he needs.
  5. Berating your dog for eating feces has no favorable impact except to hurt your dog's feelings.

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