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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 15918
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My 9 month old daschund is walked off the lead every morning.

Resolved Question:

My 9 month old daschund is walked off the lead every morning. He has 2 other dogs we regularly walk with. He has just started to stay by them when the poo and then immediately eat their poo. He has no interest in his own or that of other dogs. Any suggestions why please.
Angela.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 years ago.
Hello, my name isXXXXX and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I understand that you are concerned about Lewis's habit of eating his walking buddys' feces.

Many dogs are drawn to eating feces. In most cases it doesn't mean that they are lacking any thing in their diet or that there is anything wrong with them.

Because the foods that we feed our dogs are so high in nutrition all of the nutrients aren't necessarily used and the stool may smell pretty good to your dog, not much different from food. Some animals, like rats and mice routinely eat feces as a food source if given the chance.

If Lewis is highly food driven he simply finds his friend's fresh feces as a treat.

It certainly isn't a great habit for him as it is a way of possibly infesting himself with gastrointestinal parasites and introducing more bacteria into his oral cavity.

There isn't much that you can do about his habit except not allowing him access to his buddy's stools. In highly food driven dogs even a severe scolding or punishing won't be enough to counteract what he feels is the positive reinforcement of finding food. I would stop allowing him off leash until his buddy's have passed their stools on their walk, then he can go off-lead.

There are products out, such as Forbid which make the stool taste bad that you can ask your friends to feed their dogs as a way of trying to train Lewis not to eat stool. But this doesn't always dissuade all dogs, or sometimes they only stop while the other dogs are taking Forbid and then restart once they are off the supplement. You can try them, but they rarely seem to work long term.

You can also try to teach him the "leave it" command whereby you ask him to leave what he is found and he is rewarded with an especially delicious treat that he would find more rewarding then the stool and that he only gets when he complies.
Here is a link to the ASPCA's guide lines for teaching "leave it" which may help.
http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/teaching-your-dog-leave-it

Certainly if this is a new habit for him and/or Lewis seems unhealthy in any other way it is worth having his veterinarian check him over and run some blood tests to make sure there isn't any illness driving his stool eating. In most cases this is a behavioral issue however in some dogs it is a sign of malabsorption/maldigestion or underlying diseases associated with his gastrointestinal tract. If he is especially thin I would highly recommend having him checked.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your response, very helpful. Is there any significance to it only being those 2 dogs he reacts to in this way?
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 3 years ago.
I think it just has more to do with familiarity, and he has learned that if he follows his buddies closely he gets a yummy treat.
If he were to go up to a strange dog that was defecating they may not take so kindly to his interest.
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 15918
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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