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Why Dogs Eat Feces and How To Stop It

Why do dogs eat feces?

For reasons that are still fairly unknown to veterinarians and scientists, some dogs seem unable to resist the tasty treat of their own or another animal’s feces. Amongst a group of dogs a decent sized lump of excrement is less safe than an errant Twinkie at an Overeater’s Anonymous meeting. If dogs ran the world the finest restaurants would serve big steaming plates of the stuff as an entrée and the doggie version of T.G.I. Friday’s would serve it as an appetizer, cleverly fashioned into a flower shape. We don’t even want to guess what would be served as a dipping sauce.

It was once thought that the tendency some dogs have to eat feces stemmed from a nutritional need of some kind. Poor diet and poor health were considered to be the motivation for this seemingly bizarre and definitely disgusting (to humans) behavior. Vets and animal health specialists now say that isn’t the case as research shows no connection between canine dietary or nutritional needs and the phenomenon. At this point, scientists are stymied. No one knows why some dogs do this.

In the case of a mother dog that has recently given birth, the behavior is completely normal. Mother dogs will teach their pups to urinate and defecate by licking their hindquarters. The pups respond to the stimulus by doing what is expected and the mother will eat the results instinctively. For dogs in the wild this behavior served two useful purposes. It kept the whelping area clean and eliminated the odors of the pups’ waste that could attract predators. The puppies often learn this behavior from their mothers and mimic it. Most puppies stop doing this by the time they are weaned.

It is more curious when non-parent adult dogs eat feces whether it is their own or that of some other animal. Some scientists suggest that this is scavenger behavior and natural for dogs who are traditionally scavengers. The theory doesn’t explain why some dogs do it and some do not, however.

As natural as it may be, it is not a good idea to allow your dog to engage in this behavior. Eating of feces can expose a dog to internal parasites and bacterial infections, as well as raise the risk of viral infections like distemper and parvo. The best way to prevent a dog from engaging in this behavior is to remove the temptation. Keep the yard free of feces by disposing of it promptly. Owners can also train the animal early, before it becomes too habitual. Other methods that have been employed with varying degrees of success are feeding the dog things like garlic and pumpkin which are believed to make the feces less appealing and spraying the feces with a foul smelling solution (most dogs despise citronella, for example) that will make the dog not want to eat the excrement.

Editor's Notes: The text book name for this behavior is called COPROPHAGIA. You can find some more information on the consequences and prevention of this behavior from a veterinarian's view by clicking HERE. A safe and effective food additive that we recommend is called, appropriately, Stop Eating Poop (SEP), by Solid Gold. The active ingredient in S.E.P. is Glutamic Acid. When Glutamic Acid is mixed with the stomach acids, the stool becomes bitter to the taste, which deters the dog from eating the stool. Find details HERE.

About The Author: Kirsten Hawkins is a dog lover and animal expert from Nashville, TN. For more information on dog health, the care of dogs, and dog travel visit http://www.doghealth411.com.


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