One of the most embarrassing and unpleasant problems dog owners can encounter is the problem of Fido eating his (or some other animal’s) stool. If you should be unlucky enough to have this problem, it’s hard to follow my advice to “give your dog a hug and kiss!” Before we get into how to correct this problem, it’s important to examine the reasons why stool-eating (also known as ‘coprophagy’) occurs.
The Causes of Coprophagy
Something may be going wrong with Fido’s diet and nutrition. In some cases, when a dog is unable to properly digest and absorb the vitamins and minerals in his food, he will instinctively eat his own stool. It’s Fido’s attempt to re-digest the food that he was unable to process the first time around.
Another possible cause of this behavior may be due to the fact that you’ve over-corrected your dog during housebreaking. If you’ve been particularly harsh in correcting your pet when you’ve discovered that he’s left “presents” for you on the living room carpet, he may actually “eat the evidence” rather than incur your wrath. I’ve seen this particular problem occur more and more often with dogs who have been “crate-trained.” Dogs by nature are very clean animals and would rather eat their stool than have to be confined with and/or lie in their feces. It’s just one more reason why I’m against caging dogs for housebreaking purposes. It’s also the reason why there’s an increased incidence of coprophagy in puppies who are kept in cages at pet shops.
If your household includes both dogs and cats, you may have caught Fido “snacking” in Kitty’s litter box! The reason for this is that cats have very discriminating palates and cat food manufacturers cater to their finicky clientele by making cat food more palatable. Proof of this is the fact that you rarely will see a cat eating canned dog food, but you will often see a dog eating cat food. As unappetizing as it may be to us, cat stool can be attractive to our dogs.
Any one or a combination of the above could be the problem. It is also possible, especially in a dog that has been stool-eating for a while, that the original cause is no longer present and Fido has simply developed a very unpleasant habit.
The first step is to have your dog checked by your vet to rule out any major physical problems. This advice holds true anytime any pet suddenly develops symptoms and/or actions that are out of the ordinary.
Once Fido gets a clean bill of health, try adding some Hugs & Kisses Vitamin/Mineral Supplements to his diet. This will definitely help Fido if the cause of his stool-eating is due to malabsorption of nutrients. It will also serve as a precautionary step, insuring that your pet won’t develop a nutritional deficiency leading to coprophagy in the future.
The next step is to break the habit by discouraging Fido from eating stool. This is done by making the stool taste bad (as if stool itself is tasty!). This can be done in several ways. For instance, if Fido is eating his own stool, speak to your vet about providing you with a product that can be added to Fido’s food that makes the end result (no pun intended!) less appetizing. One product to try is NaturVet’s Coprophagia Deterrent Plus Breath Aid. Some people have had success by adding a little commercially available meat tenderizer to their pets’ food. Of course, check with your vet first and find out how much you should be adding to Fido’s meals.
Another effective way of discouraging Fido is to “decoy” his stool with Bitter YUCK! It’s available to order online on this website. Sprinkle Bitter YUCK! on Fido’s stool, the next time he goes for a nibble and it should be enough to discourage him.
The key to resolving this problem, as with most behavioral problems, is consistency. You’ll need to be vigilant – treating all of Fido’s stool (and stool in the litter box) every day for several weeks. If you take Fido for walks on the street, this will mean going out before Fido and treating any stool he might encounter. I know this sounds time-consuming and your neighbors might think you’re crazy, but you will break this unpleasant habit and be able to give Fido a hug and a kiss for me!