If youo?=ve seen your puppy or dog eat poop, whether his own or that of another animal, chances are it made you feel a little queasy. It may (or may not) make you feel a little better to know that youo?=re not alone. Scientists even created a fancy name for it: coprophagia. Yes, were talking about the ingestaion of fecal material.
Most pet owners who discover that their dog has this nasty habit want to know the answer to the following two questions:
1. Why does my dog do it? and 2. How can I make him stop?
There possibly may be a medical reason but in most cases it is simply a behavioral issue. o?=Issueo?= is the key word there. Some people may call it a behavioral o?=problemo?= but to the dog displaying the behavior thereo?=s no problem at all! Like it or not, eating poop is just something that some dogs enjoy doing.
Some dogs may begin to eat stool as the result of a medical condition such as diabetes, Cushingo?=s disease, thyroid disease, or with drug treatments such as steroids. If you have an adult dog who all of a sudden starts eating poop and this is something heo?=s never done before, medical attention may be needed.
Any dog who develops coprophagia should be kept on a regular worming schedule as prescribed by your veterinarian. Most heartworm medications when given year-round will also offer protection against intestinal parasites.
Coprophagia is often seen in some puppies. Most of the time they will outgrow the behavior. Some puppies if left alone at a young age in an uncleaned crate or kennel may simply become bored and eat their stool as a matter of play or investigation. Puppies also learn at a young age how to attract their ownero?=s attention. The behavior quickly becomes reinforced. Puppy thinks, o?=If I eat poop my owner will start to play the chase game. Fun!o?=
Some also speculate that puppies may also be imitating the behavior of their mother who cleans and ingests the puppyo?=s excrement while still in her care. Whatever the cause, early intervention can help reduce the likelihood that the behavior will turn into a lifelong habit.
The best way to prevent your puppy or dog from eating poop is simply to prevent it from happening in the first place. This will require some extra work on your part but isno?=t it worth it? Simply keep your yard free of waste material. If thereo?=s no poop to eat thereo?=s no problem!
If your puppy eats poop o?=straight from the sourceo?= you will need to take him outside on a leash until he breaks the habit. Immediately after puppy defecates distract him with a toy or treat. It may take time but eventually heo?=ll forget about his poop habit. Walk puppy back inside on his leash and scoop up the poop. The same technique applies if your dog or puppy is eating the stool of another pet in the family. You need to take the offending individual outside on a leash. After his friend defecates and the poop is scooped you can let him off leash for playtime.
There are many over the counter products that claim they will help your puppy or dog stop eating poop but success rates with these are low. Your veterinarian may carry a product called Forbid which seems to work with limited success. It may be worth a try if youo?=re desperate.
However, the key is to remember that prevention is the best cure. Scoop that poop!
For an indespensable resource on caring for your pet dog, visit the Ultimate Guide to Dog Health.