One of the funniest comedians ever to walk on a stage, has a routine about his Basset Hound who is the greatest dog in the world, because he cleans up after himself – he eats his own poop. That is funny because it is so gross. It makes us normal humans uneasy to even think about such a disgusting behavior, but to a dog, stools are just like any another object, hardly anything objectionable.
Coprophagia is the fancy word for a dog eating what was already eaten. (i.e. stools, poop, feces, *#@%, etc.)
There are more theories among Medical Experts and Dog People, about this one condition, than Planters has peanuts.
Here are some of the thoughts, from the people who are in the know: Pick out what you like, because nobody has unequivocally proven any of them.
Boredom – It’s just another toy. Mother never taught her puppy not to play with your food (it’s a joke, lighten up).
Copycat – also called modeling, which is just a fancy word simply meaning a behavior learned from other dogs, or just watching Mom clean up by eating it. It could be a trigger.
Subservience – If there is a dominate dog who acts as alpha… mister, I am the lowest dog on the totem pole, and I show my lowly station in the pack by accepting a meal from the higher ups.
Conditioned Response – If puppy is scolded for going in the house, puppy says “can’t pin nothing on me” by eating it.
Getting Attention – If you freak out when Fluffy starts to dine on it, Fluffy gets attention, which on so many levels, will build a desire in Fluffy to eat more of the same.
Nutritional Deficiency –Fido is not absorbing enough of the nutrients in his food. Dogs have enzymes used to break down the carbs, fats, etc. By eating stool, he gets a chance to replace enzymes to better aid digestion. This is especially true if you are feeding a low grade of dog food, since in the low grade foods, not a lot of the dietary necessities contained in the food are absorbed into the body.
Scavenging – Dogs are highly opportunistic, and will eat most anything not tied down, including things you and I would consider inedible. The stool of other animals is a fascination to some dogs. Cat poop — since cat food is so much higher in protein, that undigested Kitten Chow is better than steak to some dogs. Some farm dogs are drawn to the fecal matter of herbivores. Maybe the taste of digested vegetation is a culinary delight to Fido.
Health/Medical Issue – (1) Spot’s system is not working correctly, and not allowing absorption of enough of the nutrients, or (2) Parasites are stealing the essential nutrients , or (3) Pancreas Issues, which are not to be taken lightly.
Overfeeding – An overfed dog can’t absorb all the nutrients, same as Nutritional Deficiency above.
Back in the cavemen days, dogs followed us around scavenging for whatever they could get. So eating the poop of other animals or their human associates, was a way of sustenance.
But dogs eating feces can be a life or death deal. When your dog eats the poop of any other animal, there is a definite exposure to the transference of the ingested eggs of internal parasites, or serious illness causing bacteria. Those same parasites and bacteria have the ability to be transferred to humans from your dog (called a zoonotic disease). Therefore, if you have a dog that is a “coprophagia” dog, please do remember two things:
First: always wash thoroughly after touching your dog or getting licked by your dog.
Number Two, (pun intended) a dog that is eating feces MUST have regular stool samples presented to a veterinarian for examination.
The last and final reason I have for some dogs likening to eating poo is just because it tastes good to them.
Now that we know we have a coprophagia situation what are we going to do about it? Here are some ideas.
Well, as with all things medical, a visit to the veterinarian is most defiantly in order (don’t forget to bring that stool sample for examination). If all is said to be good by the vet, with that we need to start some preemptive action.
Start to clean up immediately after Fluffy does her duty. She can’t eat what isn’t there. That alone should fix the problem. If that’s not possible (I have known of dogs who would practically bend themselves in two to snack on it while it was coming out) and aside from the obvious task of you being there while it is happening to stop the dog from dining. There have been numerous dietary additives suggested, to name a few:
- Canned Sauerkraut
There are also many products intended to stop this process. By adding it into the middle of the stool or sprinkling it on top to make the taste unpleasant. Personally, I have never tried those, but it would appear to me that with the scent abilities of Fido, he probably won’t even go anywhere near the treated stuff unless it smelled good to him. And it’s even possible, admittedly remote but possible, that he might just like the taste, or at least acquire a taste for it. Also, the thought of going outside at all hours to manipulate his “stuff” is more than I can handle. Plus, in my opinion when you stop adding it, why isn’t it… Bingo. Back to the buffet .
Finally, we come to the pills, powders, or liquids that are used as additives to the food. And there is certainly no shortage of brands and types available (try a Google search, you will find plenty to choose from). I have known them to work with one dog and then when tried on another dog, nothing.
As I stated earlier, these are all just suggestions. Try them all. What can it possibly hurt? (Allergic reactions aside). If one works for you, great. Just always make sure that your first course of action is a trip to the vet.
I know this is a no-brainer, and I am almost embarrassed to say it, but with all of the various kinds and types of anti-stool eating products available, please, make sure the label says FOR DOGS.
Afterthought: Seems silly to me, (or maybe is it just me) Why go to all the fuss to add something to it instead of just picking it up? Am I missing something?