Coprophagia In Dogs | Shockingly Simple Solutions & Treatments

coprophagia in dogs
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When I was young, my family had a gorgeous German Shepherd. We got him as a puppy and I would go for walks with him every chance I got. One day, I was shocked to discover he had acquired a taste for other dogs’ poop and even his own — I was totally grossed out when I first saw him eat another dog’s feces. 

My family was shocked when we first saw this happening, we wanted to get to the bottom of this issue and resolve it as soon as possible. We knew how long it takes dog poop to decompose and what could be in the poop so eating the fecal matter of other dogs has many health risks.

This is true not only for our dog but also for our entire family. Since our family had wireless dog fences installed, we allowed our GSD to hang out in the backyard. But then we found him frequently eating his own dog poop. No one wants to be licked by a dog that just ate their own poop—Yuck!

What Is Coprophagia In Dogs?

Coprophagia in dogs basically means your dog feels the urge to eat feces. Your dog might be eating their own fecal matter or the fecal matter of other dogs or even other animals. Luckily, gross Coprophagia is treatable and can be solved, we will go over some potential solutions.

Coprophagia can occur at any time during a dog’s life but typically occurs due to underlying health or behavioral issue. Check out the causes of Coprophagia below to better understand the cause of your dog’s Coprophagia.

What Causes Coprophagia In Dogs?

While Coprophagia is relatively uncommon in dogs (only 15% of dogs on average exhibit signs of Coprophy) there are definitely some factors that could increase the chances of your dog eating feces. 

Keep in mind that all dogs are drawn to feces, and not only feces but all sorts of stinky gross things like infections on the skin, other doggy’s rear end, and more. All of this is normal, but you should start to worry if your four-legged friend is eating other dog’s poop or their own frequently.

Below are some common risk factors that cause Coprophagia in dogs, some are diet and behavior related while others are more serious and will require veterinary attention.

You may be interested in: My Dog Has Diarrhea But Is Acting Fine

Your Dog Isn’t Getting Enough To Eat

Underfeeding your dog is a common cause of Coprophagia, especially in larger breeds of dogs where underfeeding is more common. Ensure that you are giving your dog an adequate amount of food for their size and breed.

It’s often best to speak to your veterinarian if you are confused about how much you should be feeding your canine companion. In most cases, your vet can refer you to sources of information about proper feeding quantities based on your dog’s breed.

If your pups aren’t getting enough to eat at home, they may look for alternative sources of nourishment, and in this case… poop.

Poor Nutrition In Diet

coprophagia treatment
best coprophagia deterrent is proper diet and nutrition

Dogs will eat anything and everything if given the chance so it is up to us as owners to moderate and control what they eat so they stay healthy. 

Feeding your dog human foods that are not meant to be consumed by dogs could cause Coprophagia. Some human foods have little to no nutritional value to your four-legged friend, which may lead them to eat poop as a means to get the nutrients they are missing.

It’s best to speak to your veterinarian if you have questions about what sorts of food your canine friend should be eating. As a general rule of thumb, foods intended for dogs are normally fortified with added nutrients your furry friend needs to remain healthy. 

Other safe bets are clean organic foods that are minimally processed like organic cooked chicken and other non-dairy foods.

Endocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)

Even if your dog is getting fed a nutrient-rich diet that is perfectly balanced for their breed types, other factors could be causing malnourishment. In some cases, your pooch may be eating nutritious foods but not absorbing the beneficial nutrients.

A pancreatic issue may be to blame, more specifically Endocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI). With EPI your dog’s pancreas is not producing the enzymes needed to fully break down and digest the food they are eating. Since the food is not being broken down, your dog is not absorbing the nutrition from the food they are eating.   

EPI can be minor or severe, and every case is different. In some cases, your dog’s stool may have undigested food in it which could be a sign of an issue with the pancreas. 

If there is undigested food your dog is more likely to try to eat their own stool since there will be partially digested food mixed into it. If you notice your dog suddenly eating its own stool, be sure to inspect it and contact a veterinarian if you notice something is off. 

Parasites In Your Dog’s Intestines

Parasites or worms may have set up a new home in your dog’s intestinal tract causing them to miss out on critical nutrients from their foods. 

Parasites can come from all sorts of sources, everything from raw, undercooked, or spoiled meat to drinking water that hasn’t been purified properly. 

If your four-legged friend has behavioral issues which cause him or her to seek out animal feces and eat it, he or she may have caught a parasite from the foreign feces. It’s no secret that wild animal dropping can be loaded with all sorts of nasty things you don’t want anywhere near your pooch. 

If you notice your dog eating random droppings frequently and they begin to show signs of malnourishment or dehydration from diarrhea, it’s best to get them checked out. Call your vet right away and bring your pooch in for a check-up. Certain parasites, if left untreated, can have a serious impact on your furry companion’s health.

Medication Side Effect

If you’ve recently visited your veterinarian and had medication prescribed for your K9 companion, you should take a look at the potential side effects.

Some medications can make your dog ravenously hungry causing them to attempt to eat anything and everything in sight (more so than usual). 

If you notice strange behaviors after starting a new course prescribed by your veterinarian, you should contact the vet’s office. Ask your vet any questions you may have and confirm what you are giving your dog.

Behavioral Issues

In some (though more rare) cases, your dog may just like the taste of poop and will seek it out. If this is the case the only solution is training.

There are a number of possible ways to train your dog to not eat their own poop such as by using a breathable dog muzzle to stop eating poop, but the best course of action is to figure out why your dog is behaving this way.

Some dogs eat feces to get their owners’ attention, others do so because they feel anxious or feel isolated or simply feel bored. Regardless of the reason, try to figure out the cause of the behavior and solve it to the best of your ability.

In some cases, it may be prudent to seek professional training for your furry friend if the behavior continues or worsens.

Coprophagia in Puppies

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stop coprophagia in puppies

Puppies and younger dogs could be a special case as they are more prone to behavioral issues than older dogs who suddenly start eating feces. 

Puppies are inquisitive by nature, as they should be as young growing dogs. This urge to explore can sometimes lead to some unexpected behaviors like puppy Coprophagia.

We all know that dogs love the scent of feces. They sniff around for it and are not repulsed by it like we are. They use urine and feces to mark their territory and are actually drawn to the smell almost like an identifying mark. 

A curious puppy may just be exploring and trying new things, in the process of doing this they might consume some poop. While the other causes of Coprophagia shouldn’t be ruled out, it is very likely that your puppy is just exploring their world.

Solutions to Puppy Coprophagia

The best way to stop Coprophagia in puppies is to nib it in the behind so to speak with deterrence. If you notice your puppy trying to eat poop, simply prevent them from doing so. Training goes a long way to preventing a behavioral issue later in life. 

Also, be sure to have your puppy checked for things like parasites especially if your K9 pup consumed the feces of another animal. Catching a parasite early can prevent illness and prevent Coprophagia from a parasitic infestation.

Coprophagia Treatment For Dogs

Depending on the cause of Coprophagia in your canine, the approaches to solving it may vary. Below are some common solutions based on the previously mentioned causes.

Coprophagia From Lack Of Food

The solution here is to get educated about how much food your dog needs to eat based on their breed and size. There are a number of resources online which can guide you in the right direction. 

If you are unsure where to begin you should call your veterinarian for guidance, they will be able to instruct you further. 

Also please make sure not to discount the possibility of other issues, especially if after learning more about proper feeding practices you realize you are not significantly underfeeding your canine. Parasites and other medical issues may be at play—it’s best to go see your dog’s veterinarian.

Treatment For Dogs With Poor Nutrition

If your canine companion is not getting enough nutrients and its not caused by an underlying health condition your veterinarian may suggest some simple solutions. 

Changing dog food to ones that have better ingredients with few unwanted additives and buffers may be a good first step. You can also look up the ingredients to your dog’s food online to see if there is anything you don’t like in their dry or wet food. 

Your vet may also recommend several dietary supplements to help your pups get all the nutrients they need. In rare cases, your dog may need medication or injectable supplements if they are severely deficient or anemic.

Treatment For Dogs With EPI

Pancreatic issues may be treated by supplementing the digestive enzymes your dog’s system is not making to help them digest foods. These enzymes can be added to your dogs’ meals and complemented by specific vitamins and supplements to help them digest their foods better.

Treatment For Coprophagia From Parasites

To treat parasites, your veterinarian may prescribe medication to remove the parasites in your dog’s system along with the parasitic eggs. You will need to wash all of your dogs’ toys and bedding in hot water, ideally leaving them to soak. We recommend chew proof dog beds since it is easier to wash and put back together.

Make sure to clean any surfaces your dog comes in contact with on a regular basis. This could include the floor and furniture. It’s important to eliminate the remaining eggs, so doing more is better than doing less.

Coprophagia Treatment From Medication

If you suspect your dog’s new medication may be causing them to eat their own feces due to hunger you should contact your vet immediately and seek their input. 

Your vet may be able to adjust the dosage or even prescribe an alternative medication that may agree better with your dog’s body.

Treatment From Behavioral Coprophagy

Dogs are scavengers by nature, this means they may scavenge the droppings of other animals and treat them as food.

To curb this behavior, most trainers will recommend you give your K9 friend additional attention. By doing common things like taking your dog for walks more frequently or playing with them more often can often help reduce behavioral Coprophagy in dogs.

If all of this fails, you may need to speak with your vet and potentially get a referral to a trainer who specializes in dog behavioral issues.

Best Natural Coprophagia Deterrents

Pumpkin Products

Pumpkin products like pumpkin seeds may be able to deter your dog from eating their own stool. Pumpkins are perfectly ok for your dog to eat in moderation and have other health benefits.

Before feeding your dog anything new make sure to check with your veterinarian and feed them new foods in moderation at first to see how their system reacts.

Add Meat Tenderizer To Your Dogs Food

Meat tenderizer has been known to stop dogs from eating their own poop when added to their food. While not 100% guaranteed to work, there are almost no risks involved since the tenderizer won’t give your dog any serious side effects.

How much meat tenderizer should you add? In most cases, just a very small amount will be enough, no more than 1/16th of a teaspoon or less.

Also be sure to purchase a tenderizer that contains MSG. The added MSG will make your dog recoil when they smell their poop, causing them not to eat the poop. This is especially effective if the cause of your dog’s Coprophagy is a behavioral issue. 

Consult your veterinarian with any additional questions and to find out if a meat tenderizer is an appropriate treatment for your dog’s Coprophagy.

Recommended Product

If you are looking for a simple fire and forget treatment, I have had success with the below dog treats for getting my dog to stop eating his stool. Please note if your dog is eating another dog’s poop, this may not work as it makes only your dog’s own poop unappetizing while providing them with much-needed digestive enzymes and probiotics. 

Closing Thoughts

Seeing your dog eat their own or other dog’s poop for the first time can be gross, especially if your dog licks you after. The good news is that there are many ways to solve this nasty little behavior. Depending on what is causing your dog to eat their own poop, there may be different solutions.

In some cases, there is nothing to worry about, but it’s best to get down to the root of the problem as soon as you notice this gross behavior. As always make sure to consult your veterinarian if you are unsure about what you are doing or have any questions regarding your dog’s behavior or health.

Related Questions

How do you treat Coprophagia in dogs?

You can treat Coprophagia in dogs in several ways. The first would be to prevent your pooch from accessing poop, whether it is their own or another dog’s poop. When your four-legged friends are outside walking or playing around in the backyard, keep an eye on them. If you notice your dog getting close to a poop, gently pull them away from it.

There could be other health or medical reasons why your dog may be attracted to poop. We highly recommend that you consult with your vet to find out the underlying problem to this behavior.

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.