My Dog Eats Her Poop — Should I Be Worried?

Puppy sniffing grass
The best way to stop your puppy from eating her poop is to pick it up as soon as she does her business.

My 8-month-old puppy recently started eating her feces. Is this dangerous? And what can I do to make her stop?

Feces eating, known as coprophagia, is a common concern of dog owners. The problem is often seen in younger animals, and many seem to outgrow it. Although there are medical issues that can cause this behavior, in most cases the cause is unclear. Fortunately, in those pets that don’t outgrow it, coprophagia can often be controlled with behavioral modification or drug therapy.

How to Handle Coprophagia

For most pets, coprophagia is merely a bizarre habit that is disgusting to pet owners but causes no real health threat for the pet. However, eating the feces of other dogs or animals (such as deer) can result in the pet ingesting certain internal parasites, so it is important to try to eliminate this behavior.

The best way to do that is to pick up the stool immediately after your dog defecates so that there isn’t anything for her to eat. This requires some extra diligence on your part. You might also try walking your dog on a leash and not allowing her to turn and eat the stool. Taking a couple of quick steps after your dog defecates and then telling her to “sit” may be effective as well. And providing a treat when your dog does what you ask can go a long way toward helping her break the habit.

There are also a few supplemental products available that may help to curb the habit in your pet. When placed on your dog’s food, these products aim to make the feces taste bad to her. Although they may help in some cases, none of these products is guaranteed to break your dog of this habit. As always, you should talk to your veterinarian about this and any other concerns you have about your dog's behavior or health. In addition to providing your pet with medications to help prevent parasites, your vet can work with you to plan the best way to stop your dog from engaging in this odd behavior.

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