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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Yum… a poop eating party!

I was in search on google for a picture
 of a dog eating it's poop, then I realized, I have Casey!
The best Golden in the world who will do anything for me!  

Ah there’s nothing more enticing than sucking down a cool glass of iced tea on a warm summer day while lazily tossing the ball to Fido when suddenly Fido stops, sniffs the ground like he’s on the trail of small critter, then starts to scarf up the poop he left behind two days ago! And surely the older the poop the better, as it has had time to age like a fine wine! In the summertime, the heat of the sun dehydrates the load making it as crunchy as a bag of ‘Crunch- N -Munch’ and in the winter, well, it’s just like having a Popsicle!  Even more enticing!   Usually, most people don’t want to admit to another human being that their pooch eats its own feces, lets face it , it makes you sound like a bad parent, like you’re not feeding your dog properly and after all he doesn’t do it all the time! Keep telling yourself, it’s a phase, just a phase!

“Gross!” Is the first word heard by many, followed by, “My dogs eats its own poop!” Or “Gross! My dog eats my cat’s poop!” Cat litter box raids are great examples of party on!

Coprophagia, It’ the 2nd most embarrassing habit to the dog’s owner, the 1st  being a hump on a guest's leg when they arrive for a spot of tea!  So what’s the cause? Why do dogs do this?

Well, in some cases it is a learned behavior.  If you’ve ever had a litter of pups you will have seen the mother dog eat the pup’s stool, which is her way of keeping her den clean and odor free to keep predators at bay. As the pups grow, as long as they are still in what is considered the den, the mother will eat the stool which in turn teaches the pups to do the same. Generally once they are out of the nest and have gone though their oral stage and are in a new home, that habit goes away.

In some cases it is picked up again later in life and this can be due to a variety of reasons. Dogs that have hypothyroidism may pick it up because they always feel hungry. Illness like diabetes or a vitamin deficiency may also be causes. In other cases it may be considered a compulsion due to being anxious, under stimulated, or attention seeking. A diet that is considered a high protein/ low residue diet can be a cause as well and feeding a higher fibrous food throughout the day (or free feeding) rather than one big meal a day may help. Parasites and inflammatory bowl disease are thought to be other causes as well.  It is important to have your dog tested for the above possibilities so they can be correctly treated if it is medical.

There are some over the counter deterrents such as Forbid or Dis~Taste that can be added to the dog’s food which is supposed to make the stool taste bad, not that any of us can imagine that it tastes good to begin with!  Some people try adding a bit of 100% of pure canned pumpkin as it has been said that dogs like the taste going down but it is a different story when it comes out again! (or maybe it works  because it is a fibrous food.) 

  I have seen some sites recommend putting garlic on the food, DON’T DO THIS! GARLIC IS TOXIC TO DOGS! I can only assume that the site on which I found this information is old and not up to date on the latest health hazards! There was a time when a little garlic sprinkled on the food was suggested to entice a sick dog to eat, then it was discovered just how bad garlic is for dogs. So be very careful when trying any home remedies you may find online or hear from well meaning friends. If you are unsure, don’t do anything until you speak with your vet.

There is one sure fire method that works every time and that is to watch your dog closely and pick up immediately after he has had a bowel movement!

But Sally, this is not possible, I work long hours and am at times too tired to pick it up!

If you are in the yard with the dog but a distance away and have not had the time to pick up, then teach your dog the command leave it. Get that command down 100% and remember to use it! 

Many dogs delight in the cat litter box as well which can be dangerous especially with the new clumping cat litter. What do you think clumping cat litter will do in a dog’s belly once it hits the stomach acids? Yup, clump!  So then an obstruction becomes a concern.

Here’s the deal, if your dog’s overall health is fine, then it’s a behavior issue and that needs to be addressed through training and keeping the dog active. Just like some humans, when we’re bored, or have a lack of activity we eat, and many times we eat the wrong things!

I’m an expert at eating the wrong things as I am now looking at moo moos to outfit my next vacation!

Until next time happy training:)

Casey, the best Golden in the world!
At least that's what I tell him!  

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