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We have two dogs, and Lola, our youngest who is almost two years old, loves to eat poop. Now that she is eating poop, our other dog Bo, who is three years old, has copied her in this bad habit. Why do dogs eat poop, and how can we discourage them from eating it?

Thank you,
JoAnn Morris

Dr. Sherry’s answer:

Dear JoAnn,

Eating feces is normal with many different animal species. In dogs, it is not part of the digestive process, but it is a normal cleaning behavior in mother dogs with pups. Some dogs eat stool even without puppies in a misguided attempt to clean either the yard or their kennel. This can easily turn into a habit.

Malnourishment
Malnourished dogs who lack nutrients in their diet or are unable to digest the nutrients in their food may resort to eating partially digested food in poop in order to meet their nutritional needs. Consult your vet about the best diet for your dog, and also to rule out any existing medical problem associated with coprophagia, the scientific name for the act of dogs eating their own or other animals’ feces.

Breaking the habit
After addressing dietetic needs, and ruling our medical conditions, you’ll have to break the habit. There are two approaches to stopping the behavior. The most common approach is to use either Adolph’s meat tenderizer or a product called “For-bid”. These products are supposed to give the stool a bitter flavor when eaten. In my experience, these products are only successful some of the time. Another approach that may work better is to find the stool in the yard and cover it with a hot sauce, such as Habanero sauce, that will be uncomfortable to eat but cause no real damage. After a bite or two, most dogs will decide it isn’t worth it.

Good luck,
-Dr. Weaver

What do you feed your dog? Tell us what your dog’s diet is like in the comments.

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