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Stop Your Puppy from Eating Poop:

Most new owners are delighted by puppy antics, but a puppy that eats poop prompts anything but smiles. It could be any animal's faeces, too. From its stool to your cat's litter box deposits to a neighbouring horse's or cow's manure, some puppies don't discriminate when it comes to poo they're willing to eat. Although many puppies grow out of this phase at least to some extent, there are steps you can take to discourage and even stop the behaviour?

Why Do Puppies Eat Poop?

Dogs often eat their own or another animal’s droppings, no matter what species of animal does it. There's even a technical term for it: coprophagia.

There’s a scientific name for this habit— coprophagia (kop-ruh-fey-jee-uh)— and also both behavioural and physiological reasons why some dogs view dung as a delicacy. If you have a poop eater, don’t despair. There are ways to discourage the habit. Although not deeply probed by science — there are few studies on it — poop eating is a relatively common phenomenon.

In a 2012 study presented at the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour annual conference, researchers led by Dr. Benjamin Hart, from the University of California, Davis, found that:

• 16 percent (one in six) of dogs are classified as “serious” stool eaters, which means that they were caught in the act five times

• 24 percent of the dogs in the study (one in four) were observed eating faeces at least once

Hart wrote, “Our conclusion is that eating of fresh stools is a reflection of an innate predisposition of ancestral canids living in nature that protects pack members from intestinal parasites present in faeces that could occasionally be dropped in the den/rest area.” Translation: It’s in a dog’s DNA to eat poop.

There are a variety of reasons why your puppy eats poop:

When you wave your hands, shout with disgust, and chase the puppy all over the yard, that’s great puppy entertainment. Chasing can reward the behaviour and encourage your puppy to play poopy-keep-away.

• Poor quality diets may lead to puppies snacking on their waste. For instance, if the dog's food is not being digested fully, the dog may look to its faeces as a supplement because it's nearly the same as when it was eaten.

• Some health issues may cause coprophagia as well. Diseases in the small intestine or pancreas may cause malabsorption or maldigestion. Also, conditions such as diabetes and thyroid disease often increase a dog's appetite and, if its regular diet isn't filling, it may resort to whatever's available.

• It's also possible that a dog is simply not eating enough and its daily food intake needs to be increased.

• Eating other animals’ waste may have to do with taste. Cow and horse manure may contain undigested grains or other ingredients that are appealing to your pup.

• The cat’s litter box may as well be a puppy snack bar! Not only is this unsanitary, but it also puts kitty's tail in a twist to have a dog messing with its personal toilet. A cat that's pestered in its bathroom may look for another place to "go," such as behind the sofa.

• Other times, poop eating stems from boredom. If a pup left out in the yard alone has little to occupy its time, it may turn to the one available thing.

• Stress can also lead a dog to eat their faeces, especially major stressors like coming to a new home after being adopted. Anxiety: Often a result of a person using punishment or harsh methods during house training. According to this theory, dogs may eliminate and then eat their own poop to get rid of the evidence, but then they are punished more. It becomes a vicious cycle.

How to Stop Poop Eating:

It's best to put a stop to this behaviour before it gets out of hand. Parasites are often transmitted through faeces, so having a dog that sees it as a treat puts the pup's health at risk. There are several things you can do to put an end to this nauseating habit:

Work hard on the commands “leave it” and “come.” One simple exercise is to teach your dog to come to you for a food treat as soon as he has eliminated. That way, the dog will develop a habit to run to you for a tasty tidbit, instead of reaching for the revolting one on the ground.

• For bored pups, increase playtime to a minimum of 20 minutes several times a day or try aerobic exercise twice a day. If you leave your puppy in the yard while you're away, increase the number of toys available. A treatspiked toy such as a Kong filled with peanut butter offers a tastier, healthier alternative.

• If you believe stress may be playing a role in your dog's habit, try to offer some relief. Speak to your veterinarian for help with diagnosis and treatment.

• Some dogs may eat their stool when it hasn’t thoroughly "processed." In these instances, a more digestible food that offers all the nutrients your dog needs may help. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation. Remember to make a gradual change to the new food as a sudden change could prompt tummy issues.

• Get your puppy to the vet for regular check-ups and keep an eye out for signs of intestinal parasites. For instance, rice-like segments in stool are a sign of tapeworms and diarrhea can be a signal of whipworm, roundworm, or hookworm infections. Taking stool samples to your vet will help detect a parasite's presence as not all are visible without a microscope or special tests.

• Scoop and clean the cat box as often as possible. Leaving droppings for any length of time is asking for trouble. Automatic cat boxes sweep the feces into a bin within 10 minutes of the cat’s deposit.


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