Ask the Vet with Dr. Karen Shane

Dr. Shane’s Veterinary Medical Center

Q: My 3-year-old dog, Suzie, went out to go to the bathroom the other day and pooped. After sniffing it for some time, she ate it. She went through a phase where she did this as a puppy, and I thought she grew out of it. Now that she’s back at it, what can I do to stop this?

A: Coprophagia, or the practice of eating feces, is normally seen in puppies or nursing adults, but is unhygienic if continued into adulthood. One concern is the possibility for a dog to continue to re-infect himself with internal parasites if he continues to eat his own feces. Young dogs go through an oral phase of exploring everything with their mouths and their feces is no exception. As they grow, puppies tend to realize other things are more appealing to taste. In some dogs, this activity becomes ingrained and continues well past the puppy stages causing the habit to be considered “compulsive”.
Coprophagia can continue due to a variety of factors including an under-stimulated environment or inadequate attention. There are at-home therapies that can help stop the desire to ingest the feces. Adding commercially available remedies like ‘Forbid’ powder or pineapple slices to the diet causes the feces to be distasteful. Denying access to the stools and picking up the area regularly, or teaching a “leave it” command are possible physical remedies. Lifestyle enrichment is important with any behavior modification. Giving your dog plenty of exercise and quality time with you each day stimulates them mentally, physically, and decreases the ability of habits developing out of boredom.

Dr. Karen ShaneABOUT the Vet

In 1996, Dr. Shane ended her career as a certified public accountant in New York City to pursue her dream of becoming a veterinarian. She graduated from Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. In 2005, Dr. Shane graduated from the Chi Institute in Gainesville, FL as a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist (CVA). She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Chinese Veterinary Medicine under the direction of Dr. Huisheng Xie. Dr. Shane is an active member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), and the Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

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