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Coprophagia: Stool eating in dogs.

It can be disturbing to witness your own dog eating its faeces, but don’t be alarmed – it’s a common (if embarrassing) problem amongst both puppies and adult dogs.  There are many theories as to why dogs do it, but none have yet been proven or disproven.  Some possible causes include attention seeking, pancreatic or intestinal disorders, boredom and curiosity in the case of puppies.

Coprophagia is unlikely to cause too many problems in the dog, although if you have a dog that habitually eats its own faeces it is very important that you ensure that it is regularly wormed to prevent it from re-infecting itself each time it ingests worm eggs in its own faeces.  The more obvious problem is that of hygiene - if you have a coprophagic dog it is important that it is NEVER encouraged to lick your face or hands.

Ways to stop it:

There are several different approaches you can take to deter your dog from eating its own faeces.  If your dog is not being fed a high-quality dog food some of it may be passing through the dog’s body undigested, causing the faeces to smell and taste similar to its food.  If you increase the food quality to a more highly digestible brand and increase the number of times per day that you feed the dog (i.e. offer smaller, more regular meals) this should make the faeces smell less enticing to the dog.

If the diet you are feeding your dog is already high quality then another option is to feed the dog something to make the faeces taste foul. An example is Deter Tabs, a non prescription tablet available from your vet or pet pharmacy. They are derived from vegetable extracts, and are quite safe to use.

If the coprophagia is caused by boredom or attention seeking it is important to make sure your dog is provided with plenty of mental and physical stimulation in the form of toys and exercise. Food Balls are a great toy for this purpose. In all cases it is also necessary to keep your garden clean and free of faeces.

If you find that none of these tips help in reducing or stopping your dog from continuing to eats its own stools it is advisable to see your vet, to ensure that the problem is not due to any medical illness.