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If your dog does not indulge in the habit of eating poop, you may be surprised to know that many dogs do in fact eat poop - either their own or other animals'.
While coprophagia (a fancy term for stool eating!) may not pose a serious health problem to a dog, it is unpleasant, to say the least (especially if the dog is also a kisser!)
Also, dogs who eat poop are more likely to get worms than those who do not.
Veterinarians are not exactly sure why some dogs eat poop, but generally speaking, can be pinned down to three main categories - malnutrition, underlying health problems, and behavioral problems.
Some dogs eat poop if they are being fed poor-quality commercial pet food. Stool eating may be an indication of inadequate nutrition or nutrient absorption. A dog may eat poop in order to try to obtain additional sources of nutrition to survive.
As well, dogs who are fed dry processed food (e.g. kibbles) alone also tend to be deficient in digestive enzymes. As a result, they will intentionally find and consume other enzyme sources (e.g. other animals' poop especially rabbit poop which is rich in enzymes and B vitamins!)
Also, if you feed your dog once a day, he may be too hungry during the day and has to resort to eating poop.
Change the dog food to a high-quality, preferably home cooked, diet. If you are feeding your dog once a day, considering splitting his meal up into 2 to 3 times a day.
Give digestive enzymes, probiotics, and Vitamin B complex to the dog as a daily supplement to help with food digestion and nutrient absorption.
Some dogs may eat poop because of a certain health problem that increases appetite, such as diabetes.
Dogs with the problem of pancreatic insufficiency do not produce enough pancreatic enzymes and may resort to poop eating to get enzymes from other animals' poop.
As well, some medications such as prednisone can also increase a dog's appetite. If the dog is hungry all the time, it is likely that he will indulge in poop-eating.
Finally, some dogs eat poop to get addition nutrition because of intestinal parasite infestation (e.g. tapeworms).
If you are feeding your dog a healthy diet, but he still indulges in eating poop, get a physical check-up to see if your dog has any health issues.
It may be a good idea to work with a holistic vet to use natural remedies to strengthen your dog's immune system and to get rid of the underlying health problems.
Many puppies eat poop out of curiosity. They just like experimenting and trying out new things and tastes!
Some puppies - especially those that are being housetrained - eat their poop as a way to "hide the evidence". They fear that their "accident" in the house may lead to punishment.
Some dogs eat poop out of boredom, stress, or anxiety.
Puppies eating poop out of curiosity can be stopped quickly by positive reinforcement training - give the puppy a lot of praise and a treat each time he leaves his poop alone!
Some websites suggest punishing puppies that eat poop. Don't!
Training should be firm (teach the command "leave it") but ALWAYS be through positive reinforcement (praises, treats, love).
Negative reinforcement (punishment, harsh scolding, choke chains or prong collars) is cruel, unfair, ineffective, and can only freak the dog out.
Even if your puppy has housetraining problems, use positive reinforcement. Work with a trainer or animal behaviorist if necesary.
If your dog has suddenly developed an appetite for his own poop, and you have ruled out any of the above possible malnutrition and health problems, then take a look at your dog's enviroment.
Are there any significant changes recently, such as the loss of a loved one, or addition of a new pup? If so, address the emotional problems and the bad habit of poop-eating will go away.
One good way is to keep your dog active. Give him a fun and interactive toy to play with, or take him out for long walks and let him explore nature.