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How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Feces

Some dogs think eating feces is a delicacy. How to curb his appetite for waste.

We have a question from another visitor today. If you have a dog that likes to eat feces, you aren’t alone. This unpleasant habit is more common than you think; studies have shown that as much as 20% – 25% of dogs eat feces at least occasionally. Natalie from New Jersey asked, “My dog loves to eat feces. He will eat it out of the cat’s litter box – gross! – but he will also eat any in the yard or on a walk. How to I break him of this nasty habit?”

Kristen White answers:

 “This nasty habit is called copraphagia. It is unknown why some dogs do this, although there are a lot of theories. Some of them include punishment avoidance (if they have been scolded for accidents), the instinct of mom to consume the pups’ waste, and in the case of eating cat feces, the added taurine in cat food is desirable.”

“This habit is easier to resolve in puppies than in adults. The first step is to have the dog checked out by a veterinarian to make sure there is no medical cause contributing to the habit. Next, you can try adding a commercial remedy such as ‘Forbid’ to the food. Other alternatives to add to the food include pineapple juice and meat tenderizer. The goal with any of these additives is to change the taste of the feces enough that they won’t want to consume it. The most important step is going to be preventing access to it. Leash walk the dog, praising if they walk away from the stool. Pick up after the dog as soon as they eliminate. Continue to leash walk for at least 30 days. If you have successfully kept the dog from ingesting any feces then he/she can be off leash, but still supervised for another 30 days. Now, in regards to eating cat feces – that is extremely difficult to stop. The best thing to do is prevent access to the litter box by using baby gates or cat doors.”

Some examples of products that can help include For-Bid, Potty Mouth and Dis-Taste chewable tablets.

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