It’s a common issue that nobody likes to talk about. You take your dog for a walk and they “do their business” as usual but instead of moving on they turn and gobble it up. Just the thought makes you sick, so why does my dog do “that”? Dogs’ consuming their own feces (or other animals’) is known as coprophagia. Many species of animals do this; however, it is not known exactly why it occurs. It occurs most often in puppies. Luckily, most of the time the puppy will grow out of it as they mature. Nursing mothers also participate in coprophagia until a puppy is about three days old. Since a puppy that young is not able to eliminate on their own the mother will lick her pups to activate the defecation reflex. Mom will consume the fecal in order to maintain cleanliness and to keep predators away. Some dogs continue the habit into adulthood. Going back to 15,000 years dogs were known as the waste management company. They would help keep the land surrounding their settlement clean. Needless to say old habits die hard.
If your pet is currently participating in coprophagia it is important to discuss it with your veterinarian. If your pet isn’t getting nutrient rich balanced diets or if they are unable to digest the nutrition in food they may resort to coprophagia. How to prevent my dog from doing “that”: Since it is natural for a dog to sniff feces as part of their investigative behavior discouraging this will prove difficult.
•Be sure to dispose of fecal matter immediately. Disposing of fecal waste will eliminate the option of consuming as well as help with the prevention of worms and intestinal parasites being transmitted.
•Provide your pet with toys and activities that provide exercise. This will help prevent fecal eating from becoming a compulsive behavior.
•Teach your dog the “leave it” command. See article – http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/teaching-your-dog-leave-it
•Use a taste deterrent such as meat tenderizer. Sprinkle your pets’ food with the tenderizer. It will take a couple days to pass through digestion system and be noticeable to your pet in feces. If it’s been more than four days and it has not helped increase the amount sprinkled consistently for another 4 days.
•You can also purchase products at your local pet store that are formulated to make feces less appetizing.
• Keep your pet on a leash when going out and be aware of other pets’ feces.