Why does my dog eat poo? How do I make him stop?

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I have a confession. One of my dogs eats poop and apparently, I am not alone. This poo eating is very common in dogs. The technical term for this condition is coprophagy. And for all of us humans, it is disgusting.

In our world, it doesn’t matter who the pooper was; just the fact it is poop is good enough. She will eat her own poo, rabbit poo, her furry brother’s poo. It is all fair game.

My dog, who I will not name here to protect her identity, has been enjoying the delicacies of poop her entire life. After exhaustive discussions and testing with our vet, we can find no conclusive reason for this behavior other than she likes the taste. Ewwww!

Why do dogs like to eat poo?

Research shows there is a pretty lengthy list of reasons why dogs eat poop. Stress or being extremely anxious, boredom or self entertainment, nutritional deficiencies, diabetes, thyroid disease, intestinal parasites, malnutrition, inflammatory bowel disease, or anemia can all be clinical reasons for poop dining. It could also be a response to a punishment or a response to clean their own environment. There is also the school of thought that dogs are hard-wired to eat almost anything. And even if we don’t want to think about it, poop does provide some nutrients for the eater.

When I Googled ‘Why Dogs Eat Poop,’ the search came back with 1.06 million results. Clearly, I am not alone in wondering why dogs do this. And just as clearly as there is no one cause, there is no one solution to stop it either.

How to stop your dog from eating poo

The solutions to stopping dogs from eating poo are as numerous as the causes. You really need to have a discussion with your vet to ensure that your pooch is in good health: no parasites, no thyroid disease or anemia, etc. Once those causes are ruled out, the hard work begins.

Do you have your dog on a quality dog food? In our case, the answer is yes. But she still enjoys poop-sicles in the winter and poop-jerky in the summer. If you have your dog on a food rife with fillers–corn, soy, beat pulp, etc.–you might want to upgrade to a food that has more nutritional value so your dog won’t have to eat as much to be healthy. If they don’t eat as much, they also won’t poop as much or be tempted to eat round two of their or someone else’s recently excreted meal.

Is your dog experiencing extreme stress or boredom? Our household is chaotic but not stressful and it is far from boring…even for the dogs. Remember, stress can come in many forms so pay attention to how your dog reacts to the goings-on in your home. Exercise and calm leadership of your pack, with you at the helm can head these two causes off at the pass. A tired dog is a very happy dog!

What happens when your dog begins to chow down on a tasty yard morsel? Do you run after him and yell at the top of your lungs? Yelling and running after Fluffy is probably not the most effective means to stop poo ingestion. Alter your dog’s behavior with a leash correction if she is on a leash, a shake can, squirt gun or other means instead to stop the offending behavior.

Additional tips revealed in my search for poo altering behaviors include feeding dogs fresh pineapple or sprinkling meat tenderizer with MSG on Spot’s food. Even dousing the poo piles with the hot sauce of your choice is suggested to alleviate poo chowing. As a side note, MSG is not really all that great for human consumption, so think about this before giving it to your pooch. All of these aforementioned remedies are supposed to alter the taste of the poo to a metallic and unappetizing state thusly stopping the poo dinner bell. None of them worked for us. My sweet dog still prefers to eat poop than to eat her high quality food which I joyfully provide for her. If you have a poo-eating pup, please do feel free to try these remedies and comment on how they worked for your pup.

Nope, we have had success with only one remedy: daily poop patrol. I go on a seek and destroy mission in the yard every day. With bag and shovel in hand, I eradicate the offending poop-sicles and poop-jerky from the yard one scoop at a time. This gets a bit harder to find underneath all the leaves in autumn but with my trusty doggie at my side, following her nose helps me find more than my eyes alone can see.

Cindy Dunston Quirk is the Chief Dog Lover at Scout & Zoe’s Natural Antler Dog Chews. Scout & Zoe’s chews are allergy-free and a green, organic, renewable resource created only from 100% naturally shed elk antlers.

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