ASK DR CLAIRE
My dog keeps eating poop, why does she do this and what should we do?
Poop eating (their own, other dogs, or other species) is a behaviour that is more frequently seen in young dogs and it’s usually something that they grow out of (not always!)
So why does she do it? Well popular belief is that it indicates there’s something lacking in the diet, but there’s actually no scientific data at all to back that up, and from my own experience very healthy dogs and cats can do this, on virtually any diet! It can just be a habit, a sign of a large appetite, or even just that they’re bored.
The problem for poop eating enthusiasts is that they will be exposed to all sorts of nasties- most notably intestinal worms, bacteria and others including the protozoal parasite, Giardia.
So what do you do? Chat to a vet for a wellness check of your pet. If she has lost weight or is underweight, is vomiting, has had a change in her appetite or in the look of her poop, you really need to chat to a vet.
First step in the short term is to deny access to the poop. They can’t eat it if it’s not there! This certainly isn’t easy, as this step takes hard work and dedication. Picking up and disposing of the poop as soon as it is passed requires constant supervision of the yard, both day and night (a torch will help here). When on walks or toilet breaks, using a head collar and lead will help you have good control to avoid this behaviour- if they’re 50 metres away you’ll have no hope to intervene.
Another step is to intensely enrich your pups environment. A tired, happy dog is less likely to get into mischief. They need both physical and mental stimulation. This means daily exercise, consider putting meals in slow release devices e.g Kong cube, which gives them something to do whilst getting their reward (their meal!), provide distraction with safe chew toys, treats, or filled Kongs and rotate the toys that are given.
Finally set to work on teaching your dog the command ‘leave it’. This is such a valuable skill for your pet to learn and there are many situations, other than poop eating, that you can use this. You would use this in cases of accidentally dropping a food or medication that is potentially toxic to your pet, or for when you’re out and about and there is something questionable at the park or on the pavement.
Always remember prevention is the key, to reward the behaviours that you want, and not to be angry at your mates undesirable (to us!) habit. And just to be safe, ensure they are regularly wormed with an appropriate all wormer.
If you’d like to chat in person, you can book a live video call or start a chat to discuss in more detail, as soon as possible.
We’re here to help!