Our pups do lots of disgusting things. They lick their rear ends. They drink from the toilet. They rub their faces in bird poop. They roll in muck. THEY EAT POOP.
There’s a scientific name for this poop-eating habit— coprophagia (kop-ruh-fey-jee-uh). Why does your pup think poop is a delicacy? There are behavioral and physiological reasons. If you pup is a poop eater, don’t despair. Help is on the way! While eating poop is repulsive to humans, from the canine point of view, it’s not so bad.
POOP EATING IS NORMAL FOR PUPPIES
When it occurs in puppies, poop eating is considered part of the process of exploring the world around them. Most puppies will be satisfied with a sniff, but a few will want—like human children—to put everything in their mouths, including poop.
POOP EATING IN ADULT DOGS
If your adult dog starts to eat poop, you should talk with your vet to rule out health problems like:
- Diets deficient in nutrients and calories (your vet may suggest supplements)
- Malabsorption syndromes
- Diabetes, Cushing’s, thyroid disease, and other conditions that might cause an increase in appetite
Many pups start eating poop due to environmental stress:
- Isolation: Studies have shown that dogs who are kept alone in kennels or basements are more likely to eat poop than those dogs who live close to their people.
- Restrictive confinement: Spending too much time confined in a small space can cause a poop-eating problem.
- Anxiety: Often a result of a person using punishment during house training. Dogs may eliminate and then eat their own poop to get rid of the evidence.
- Attention-seeking: Dogs eat their own poop to get a reaction from their humans. If you see your dog is eating poop, don’t overreact.
HOW TO STOP A PUP FROM EATING POOP
- There’s been a long-standing theory that dogs eat poop because they are missing something in their diets, so a dog multivitamin could be helpful.
- Enzyme supplementation. Some people have had success with supplements for dogs that contain papain, an enzyme that aids digestion.
- Taste-aversion products. Certain tastes and smells are as disgusting to dogs as the idea of stool eating is to us, so adding a poop-eating deterrent to food or treats will make the poop that’s being produced less appealing.
- Training and environmental management methods; pick up poop in your yard, keep litter boxes scooped, supervise your pup on walks, and teach “leave it.”