How to stop dogs from eating poop is a question that vets and trainers get asked almost every day. A recent study from the University of California, Davis showed that 16% of all dogs eat poop at some point in their lifetime, so it’s actually a very common problem.
Common or not, it’s disgusting to most dog owners. It can also be a health concern for your family, so it’s something that you want to take fairly seriously and get solved right away.
There are basically three ways to stop poop eating, depending on your dog’s particular problem:
Identify Any Health Issues
Sometimes dogs eat poop because they’ve got serious underlying health issues. Fortunately this is not common, but it’s the first thing you should look at so you can rule it out. Schedule a vet appointment!
The most common medical reasons for poop eating (coprophagia) are EPI, pancreatitis, intestinal infections and malabsorptive syndrome. I’ve got an article about these problems here.
Fix Nutritional Deficiencies
This is by far the most common reason for poop eating. Yet people often get offended when I suggest it. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard people tell me how they feed their dog the very best, all natural, organic, grain free, amazing dog food in the world I would be a rich man.
Don’t get me wrong, I think that food quality is hugely important, but dog digestive systems can get out of whack for lots of reasons, even when they’re getting excellent food.
Just like humans, dogs host a huge variety of micro-organisms in their gut. This balance of micro-organisms is known as the microbiome, and it’s critically important to dog health.
Sometimes “bad bugs” take over and crowd out “good bugs” because of a dog’s dietary routine. Other times drugs (particularly antibiotics) will wipe out huge swaths of organisms and a dog will have trouble restoring these populations in the right ratios.
The good news is that it’s fairly easy to fix a dog’s gut with dietary changes and supplementation of high end probiotics. This video explains further:
It usually takes a week or two before you start seeing effect, but it works quite well.
Solve Behavioral Problems
This is a tougher nut to crack. Sometimes a dog will start eating poop (perhaps because of previous nutritional issues) and the behavior becomes deeply ingrained. Rescues are often in this category.
Training is really the only option here. In general I use a variety of dog training methods, but clicker training is by far the most effective way solve for coprophagia.
Other Things You Can Do
There are many, many coprophagia deterrent products that claim to solve the problem. Although I have concerns about the ingredients in some, most are harmless but (based on their Amazon reviews), mostly ineffective.
Forbid For Dogs seems to be one that gets suggested by vets a lot, although I’m not sure why–probably because it’s been on the market since the early 1970’s. I think I tried it many years ago, but I don’t remember getting results with it.
Some people feed dogs pineapple to stop poop eating. Although I personally haven’t found it effective, many people swear by it, so it seems worth a try if nothing else works for you. I think it may have something to do with the bromelain in pineapple.
What Not To Do
There are all kinds of crazy suggestions and theories out there. I put all of the dangerous ones I could find into one article and posted it here.