If I had to name the one thing that is responsible for most cases of coprophagia (poop eating), I would have to say it’s diet. Most of the time, it’s really that simple. Put a dog on a biologically appropriate diet, and presto, the coprophagia goes away!
Do dogs eat poop for other reasons? Yes. In some cases dogs develop poop eating habits that have to be broken through training, or sometimes they have malabsorption conditions that contribute, but I would say that 80% of the time you’re going to solve the problem with diet.
What kind of diet? I’m glad you asked! A biologically appropriate one.
I found a video of Dr Karen Becker (who I greatly admire) and she has done an excellent job of explaining the food options that are closest to a dog’s ancestral diet. For those of you that don’t have time to watch, I will recap below.
Raw Food is Best for Poop Eating Dogs
Raw food diets are the quickest path to stopping a poop eating habit. Dogs are carnivores and are built to eat meat. Raw meat as a matter of fact. Before dogs were domesticated, they never ate anything cooked, and carbohydrates were a small part of their diet. Raw food diets really are the most biologically appropriate for dogs, and probably the best cure for coprophagia available.
You have a couple of options when you’re going raw: you can buy frozen raw food or make your own. Please check out my post on raw dog food. There is quite a bit of misinformation out there on raw foods, and it’s a terrible shame because a raw food diet is just about the best thing you can do for your dog’s health.
Canned or Dehydrated Dog Foods
If you can’t or won’t go raw, then canned food is the next best thing for helping your dog kick a coprophagia habit. Of course, not just any canned food, but one that is extremely high quality (i.e. meat that is fit for human consumption) and has meat as it’s primary ingredient.
High quality dehydrated foods are also ok, as long as they’re meat based. If you haven’t used them, you simply add moisture to reconstitute them at feeding time. If you’re looking for information on which brands seem to work the best for poop eating dogs, please see my posts on recommended canned food brands and dehydrated food brands. Of course, premium foods are pricey, so you may also want to review the cheapest places to buy premium dog food online.
Coprophagia & Dry Dog Foods
Use them if you must, but know this: the low moisture content in dry foods puts a great deal of stress on your dog’s digestive system. Furthermore, most dry foods are much higher in carbohydrates than is biologically appropriate. And, many of these foods contain ingredients (corn, wheat/gluten, soy, dairy) that many dogs have hidden allergies to. Please read my post on dry dog foods and which ones work best for dogs with coprophagia.