Monday, November 17, 2014

The Galloping Gourmet

Dogs are wonderful animals that bring so much value to our lives. We love to play with them, pet them and snuggle – that is until we discover that Rover has been busy eating stool in the backyard. Yup, you heard that right. Eating poop is a gross doggy habit…I guess that’s one benefit of strictly owning cats. For those who have a pet with this affliction, your first question is probably “Oh my goodness. Why???!!!” Coprophagy, or eating of stool, is suspected to be caused by:

  • Natural behavior: Female dogs clean their puppies and their den by eating stool. A large percentage of dogs that eat stool are females. The most common breed with this problem is Beagles.
  • Underlying medical problems: This can be seen in pets with malabsorption in the gut, starvation or malnutrition (ensure your pet is getting a balanced good quality diet).
  • A less discerning palate – they think it tastes good. Raiding the cat litter box rates highly as a popular bistro bar since cat food is higher in protein.
If your pet is eating his own stool, or those from your other dog, there are many preventatives including:
  • Take your pet on walks and bag the stool as you go
  • Do not yell at your pet when it consumes stool since this might accidentally reinforce the behavior
  • Ensure you are providing a quality diet – talk to your vet for suggestions.
  • Unfortunately, research has shown that no aversive additives work.

Out of all these preventatives, the most successful treatment is to pick the stool up right after your pet goes to the bathroom. Get your dog on a feeding schedule to help regulate stool production and make pick-up times more predictable. 

If your dog is a frequent flier to the cat litter box, consider making one bedroom or office the “cat domain”. Use a child gate to cordon off the area – your cat can jump over, but your dog is kept away from temptation.

If your pet is a scrounger on walks, keep him or her leashed and sequestered to paved areas where animals are less likely to eliminate. The biggest concern with coprophagy—other than rank dog breath—is the ingestion and transmission of intestinal parasites. If your pet tends to ingest stool be sure to have regular health exams and fecal testing to prevent infestation.

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