Dog Eating Poop

Learn what you can do to help your dog break this disgusting habit.


Q: We love our 18-month-old Maltese very much, but she has the worst habit I have ever seen. She eats her own and other dogs’ poop. We tried putting meat tenderizer on her food, but it had no effect. I have heard an incomplete diet might be why she indulges herself with this habit, but I don't think her diet is missing anything. Do you have any suggestions?

A: This unpleasant dog behavior is known as coprophagia, the rather distasteful habit that compels some dogs to eat their own and other dogs' feces.

The good news is your dog will probably outgrow it — as most dogs do. But until she does, there is not much you can do about it.
While you are waiting for your dog to improve her culinary tastes, immediately clean up any feces, and keep your dog on a leash to limit her access to it. Also keep her on a monthly deworming medication and heartworm preventive.

With regard to diet, there are numerous products that you can sprinkle on your dog's food to discourage coprophagia, but there is little evidence of how effective they are.

Ultimately, keeping your dog away from any feces, her own or another dog’s, will help her outgrow this habit.

Jon Geller, DVM

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linda   bonita springs, FL

11/22/2010 10:08:35 AM

my 4 mounth old chihuahua eats cat poop and bird poop out side what can I do ??

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Malorie   Beaufort, SC

1/12/2010 3:36:39 PM

I have a 2 year old Maltese and he does the same thing if he has an accident in the house and I don't get to it in time. Its something about the breed, apparently all Maltese's do it, but I haven't figured out why just yet.

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Stephanie   North Canton, OH

11/7/2009 3:59:07 PM

My 9 month old Pomeranian does it. The "leave it" command has been helping. It is so hard to spot it before they do-they are so fast!

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Susan   Glendale, AZ

3/12/2009 5:54:40 PM

I had a coonhound that ate all the dog and cat poop that she could find (even the smallest of pieces). She never did outgrow it! It was more of a game with her to see how much poop she could eat before I could get it all picked up out of the yard. We tried every product on the market, and the ONLY thing that worked was to feed her and all the other pets cooked zucchini. Raw works, too, but she liked the cooked much
For the 1st month, I gave it to her about 4 times times a week (1/4 cup per 1 cup of dry food). Then I eventually only had to give it to her twice a week. If the dog gets a soft stool, cut back on the
It must give the poop the worst smell to the dog because as soon as she would put her nose down toward it, she was pulling
So this was a cheap, but more important healthy fix for the problem.

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