Stool Eating: A Nasty But Common Dog Problem

by DFS-Pet-Blog on February 24, 2011

Stool eating is a common problem faced by many dog owners. A lot of theories have been suggested as to why dogs eat feces. Are they missing something in their diet? Generally not. Having your dog examined by a veterinarian to rule out potential medical problems is a good idea, though.

As a veterinarian, I’m often asked, “How can I stop my dog from eating stool?”

Stopping stool eating is not always easy. There is no absolute tried and true answer, but here are 10 different methods that can be tried and combined.

  1. First, restrict access to the feces: The best way to prevent stool eating, known as coprophagy, is to keep yards and kennels free of feces. Clean up any feces as soon as the dog (or any other dog) defecates. Keep the dog on a leash, so you have more control of his actions. Sometimes, the only way to prevent coprophagy is to fit the dog with a wire basket muzzle. The dog will be able to sniff, pant, and do most things dogs do, but the dog will not be able to eat with the muzzle on. DO NOT LEAVE A MUZZLED DOG UNATTENDED.
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  3. For dogs attracted to litter boxes, you may need to be quite creative. Using covered litter boxes and placing the opening towards a wall may help. Some people put the litter box up high. Others put the litter box in a closet and secure the closet door so that the opening is big enough for the cat but will not allow the dog to enter. Keep in mind that if you make the litter box too difficult to reach, the cat may not go to it either.
  4. Dis-Taste

    Dis-Taste

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  5. Make the feces less appealing: Some owners find it successful to use something to make the feces taste horrible. Products such as For-bid (for cats or dogs) and Drs. Foster and Smith Dis-Taste (for dogs) are added to the food of the animal whose feces are being eaten. The product is digested by the animal, and results in giving the feces a very bad taste. Some people try putting Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper (chili powder) on the feces (not the food!). Unfortunately, some dogs have acquired quite a taste for Tabasco. These methods work best if the behavior has just started. Once coprophagy has become a habit, it is very difficult to break.
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  7. Some owners have found that using a citronella correction collar may be helpful. If the dog starts to approach any feces, the owner stimulates the collar to spray. Timing is critical, and this will only be helpful if you can constantly monitor the dog while he is outside and in an area where there may be feces. Clicker training, to train the dog to move away from feces and get a reward, has also helped in some situations.
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    Kibble Nibble Dog Toy

    Kibble Nibble Dog Toy

     

  9. Enrich the environment: Adding dog toys and other diversions to the environment may be helpful. We need to find something that is more fun for the dog than eating feces. A dog may find a Treat Ball or hard rubber toy laced with peanut butter a better alternative. Also, give the dog lots of exercises to help him ultimately relax.
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  11. In situations in which the behavior may be linked to stress, the cause of stress should be eliminated or at least reduced. In some instances of extreme anxiety, or if the behavior becomes obsessive-compulsive, medication may be necessary to try to break the cycle.
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  13. Alter the diet and feeding: Changing the diet to one using hydrolyzed protein such as Hill’s z/d may be beneficial. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend one for you.
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  15. Some dogs will improve if they are fed more often, so you may want to increase the number of meals (but keep the total daily intake about the same). Feeding the dry kibble out of a food dispensing toy may also be helpful.
  16. Prozyme

  17. There have been anecdotal reports that adding Prozyme to the diet (of the pet whose stool is being eaten) may aid in eliminating this problem.
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  19. Don’t punish: Above all, do not punish the dog for eating feces. This may reinforce the behavior. Work on general obedience is sometimes helpful. If the dog knows what is expected of him and looks to you for cues, he may be less anxious and less likely to start or continue the behavior.


Also See:

Drs Foster and Smith Free Shipping


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Angie April 9, 2011 at 6:03 am

How I stopped my Pup from turning around and eating his poop is as soon as I saw him do this I make a LOUD irritating sound, I had to do it a couple of times, now when he goes over to it before I have a chance to pick it up, he jumps back without me saying anything and walk away. SO funny but it worked

Kathy Lane March 21, 2012 at 10:12 am

My bigger problem is that my dog is eating lots of deer poop too. She actually walked into the house & vomited a pile of it. We live in a wooded area & she has a hidden fence perimeter, what to do??

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