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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
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Experience:  I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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How can I stop my 6month old Airedale puppy eating her own

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How can I stop my 6month old Airedale puppy eating her own poo? I have cut down her food intake and substituted rice. I've tried pineapple juice but not sure about the quantity. Also tried tablets - not much difference. What about brewer's yeast or apple cider vinegar? Again how much? She is a real scavenger so have resorted to a muzzle in the garden if she is unattended for a few minutes.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 2 years ago.

Hello Alison, I'm Dr. Deb and will do my best to help you today.

I'm sorry that Coco is having this problem; I know how distressing it can be.

This behavior is called coprophagia....the ingestion of one's own stool or the stool of another animal.
It's certainly a disgusting habit but it's actually a fairly common one, believe it or not.

 

We often don't have a good understanding of why some dogs engage in this behavior although it's rarely related to deficiencies in the diet.Many puppies go through an oral stage in which they explore everything with their mouths, sometimes ingesting a variety of non-food items, including feces.
As they mature, though, the majority of pups eventually learn that food tastes better than feces and that's the end of it.

But for those dogs who continue the practice, there may be a compulsive component as to why they don't stop. It's almost an addiction, in a way. And, as a result, it's often very difficult to break this habit as it is for most compulsions.

 

The products which you're tried which are available as Forbid or S.E.P. (stop eating poop) here in the States may help some dogs but in my experience, they don't help the majority of them. Some owners swear by fresh pineapple. But your experience with these things is what I routinely hear from clients who've tried them: they don't work!
Some people will try to sabotage the feces by adding jalapeno peppers or something really spicy to the stool. Others will add Accent or meat tenderizer to the kibble.

 

Brewers's yeast and apple cider vinegar are not likely to be effective either, unfortunately, but won't be harmful if you wanted to try them; I'm skeptical that they will actually make a difference, though, since the other products you tried were ineffective.

Personally (and I do mean personally since I've had several dogs through the years who've done this and am currently living with one who does) the only thing that I've found that consistently works is to pick up the stool as soon as it's produced. If it's not there for a dog to ingest, then they don't ingest it.

You can also teach the "leave it" command which works if they start to eat the feces in front of you. This is a good command to learn anyway, in my opinion.

Of course, these methods will only work if you are present. For those times that you are not, I have resorted to a basket muzzle and often suggest them to owners if they are open to the idea.

 

I also encourage lots of exercise and quality time with their owners; boredom is not necessarily associated with this problem but it helps to rule it out by keeping the dogs active.

This can be an extremely difficult habit to break (as most OCD-type behaviors are) ....and a frustrating one to deal with as well.

 

 

This is basically the equivalent of food poisoning so I try to discourage it as much as possible....not to mention how disgusting it is.

 

I would dearly love to be able to provide a solution to this problem which will be 100% effective but, unfortunately, we don't have a solution which works for every dog. Believe me, I've tried everything suggested, recommended or guaranteed to work for this problem and have yet to find anything which consistently works. Deb

Dr. Deb, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 9450
Experience: I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I have been clearing up immediately out of her view but sometimes I can't reach her in time and she' s already started so I take her out on a lead so I can monitor her. That works for the moment but I would like to be able to leave her outside even for a little while. She has an upset tummy from time to time but I don't know whether it's her stools or something else she's ingesting or too much food. I've tried to be strict with food quantities and treats and she is certainly not overweight. All my other dogs have been disinterested in food so this is quite a surprise. My kennelman tells me that when she stayed with him for a week she didn't do it. He suggests brewer's yeast but how much? Many thanks

Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 2 years ago.
Alison:
The "leave it" command is perfect for those situations where you can't physically reach her but she can hear your voice. My current dog has learned to be very sneaky and after almost a year now, will only eat feces she finds if I'm not physically present.

But taking her out on a lead is perfect since you have complete control.

I honestly don't know if you'll be able to leave her outside alone unless she has a basket muzzle on. I wouldn't have a problem with this although I do understand that some owners might.
My current dog is not quite as obsessive since she's matured a bit but I know that this problem will be lifelong for her. Just to give you supporting evidence that this may be secondary to compulsive/addiction type disorders, my dog comes from a long line of poop eaters, according to her breeder. She appears to think it's somewhat amusing but I fail to see the humor.

Unfortuantely, since I don't typically suggest brewer's yeast for this problem, I can't provide a dose for you. I researched a veterinary based website and couldn't find a dose listed either....so I'm sorry that I can't help you out with that:( Deb
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 2 years ago.
Alison:
Thanks for the rating; it's greatly appreciated.

And, best of luck with Coco as you work at dealing with this problem. Regards, Deb

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