Monday, March 22, 2010

What is Coprophagia? How Do Your Stop Dog From Eating Poop

Does your dog have a dirty little secret? Is your dog compelled to eat their own poop or munch on kitty tootsie rolls? Need we say more! We would all agree that somethings are not meant to be consumed, poop is one of those things not worthy of a taste test. It can be embarrassing, frustrating and gross seeing your dog constantly eating their own poop or sticking their snout in the kitty litter box. If your dog taste buds is hankering for the #2 business then this behavior is known as coprophagia. For many dogs this can be the cause of unbearable bad breath.

Dogs are notorious for putting everything in their mouth and then licking you on the face. Although a nice gesture, no one wants a big wet smooch from a potty mouth dog. It is important for you to correct your dogs doggie do eating behavior because parasites can be transmitted from dog to human and cause severe health problems for you and your dog. Here are some reasons why dogs may develop such a dirty habit and mouth.

1. Mimic Behavior – Often dogs adopted from shelters or those who spend time at a kennel may develop a copy cat behavior (no pun intended) and mimic this behavior from other shelter dogs. Also, if your dog watches you pick up poop, he might learn to do the same. This is called allelomimetic behavior. Your dog observes you and learns from you, by putting the poop in his mouth as oppose to in a bag.

2. Inadequate diet – Sometimes dogs eat poop because their diets are lacking in essential nutrients and minerals, this is especially true if your dog is being feed low grade dog food. On the other paw, dogs can eat poop because they’re overfed and haven’t properly digested all their food. It sounds gross, but the smell of their feces reminds them of their food so they partake. Giving your dog a multivitamin supplement and maintaining a healthy diet of fresh food can help lessen the urge to eat stools.

3. Signal Medical problems – Does your dog have a hidden medical problem? Often times your dogs poop eating ways can be a "cry for help" or in this case "health" and signal medical issues. Don't ignore your dogs "bark for help". Perhaps a visit to the vet for a complete physical exam would uncover an underlining health issue. Internal parasites can lead a dog to consume feces by leaching nutrients from their host. Thus, the dog will feel unusually hungry and may feed on their poop. It is important that your dog gets their yearly checkup, so if you haven't schedule an appointment with your local vet make one today.

4. Boredom – The lack of exercise, neglect and being bored can prompt your dog to eat his own poop to pass the time.

5. Hiding feces – If your dog is constantly scolded for pooping in the house, he may ingest his poop to conceal the evidence and avoid punishment. Lets dispel a myth, that fact is that dogs do not defecate indoors out of spite, but simply are unable to hold it in. Unlike humans they don't have the luxury of sitting on the toilet when nature calls.

6. Pregnant Females- Some female dogs have an instinctual maternal urge to hide the puppies from predators. Eating her puppies feces is one way to conceal their existence and keep them safe from harm.

7. Housekeeper- If your dog is restricted and confined to a crate or kennel your dog may eat his or her own poop to keep living space clean & tidy.

8. Anxiety & Stress- dogs under lots of stress and anxiety may eat their feces to cope, so keep your dogs life stress free.

9. Taste good-Although a disgusting habit some dogs eat poop because they simply love the taste.

10. Desire attention & interaction- Dogs love being the center of attention and are smart enough to connect the dots. If they see negative behavior such as eating poop gets them attention & interaction this will spur them on. One way to curb the behavior is to praise good behavior and correct bad behavior. Also make sure to take time each day to spend quality time with your pet.

11. Curiosity- Dogs are curious and will try to eat almost anything, including poop. Dogs explore the world through taste and smell.

How To Break the Habit

So now that you've gotten to some of the possible roots of the problem here are ways to break this gross habit and get your dog on the road to good health.

1. Crate train – By early crate training, you reduce the chances of your dog pooping in his crate and eating it.

2. Put certain natural ingredients in his food– Foods such as pineapple, spinach and pumpkin give his poop a repugnant taste and smell, retraining his taste buds and reducing the likelihood he’ll eat it.

3. Raid your pantry for all natural edible deterrents ! Sprinkle Tabasco sauce or lemon juice on poop – This solution explains itself. One taste of hot sauce or lemon juice and your dog will quickly get the message to “Leave it!” You can even add two to four tablespoons of canned pumpkin to the food bowl each day. Pumpkin apparently tastes good in food, but create an offensive & repugnant odor when expelled in excrement.

4. Check his diet – Make sure your dog is eating top quality dog food recommended by veterinarian standards.

5. Immediately clean up any poop – Keep your dogs living & play space clean as a whistle. As soon as your dog defecates, scoop it up and throw it away. Of course don't forget to use biodegradable doggy business pick-up bags. Not only will you be guarding his health and breaking him of a dirty habit, but you’ll also have a cleaner yard and you and Fido want have to worry about stepping in landmines.

6. Take regular leash walks – Leash walks are not only great exercise but can be a good distraction from this dirty habit. When you’re walking your dog on a leash you can command him to not eat poop with a quick and firm, “No!”

7. Distract and reward – While you are walking your dog turn on your poop radar. As soon as you see poop approaching while walking firmly say, “No!” or "leave it". Then reward him or her with praise, a treat or playtime. Dogs will do anything for a good organic treat, which is a great way to deter this behavior. Distract her from undesired things like feces, and substitute a good, desired behavior such as sitting and attending to you. A dog who is interacting with her owner can't be investigating poop at the same time.

8. Form a kitty litter blockade. Block your dog's access to any kitty litter boxes or to help break a habit that has already formed. Keep the litter box in a room for cat access only, place a lid over the box or us a baby gate.

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Shauna (Fido & Wino) said...

My dog doesn't eat his own but he loves the crap of other animals- cat, horse, goose... you name it, disgusting.

I may try the tabasco thing... I'm not sure how the logistics of that one will go, but it's worth a shot!

Ms.Rickina said...

I have the same dilemma as Shauna, my Ashley likes to nosh on the neighbors cat twinkies, and I can probably think of at least 3 things on the 'list'of why. But of those things we try to address them as best we can.

So thanks for that great post, full of good stuff :)