BTN 500



We are stronger together than we are alone!

  • Register

copraphagialadyThis is not anybody's favorite topic. In-fact, I would prefer not even to write about this. But this is a common problem that I have come across as a foster parent. I am sure there are many more cases of this behavior that other dog owners are dealing with than just me.  I will admit the first time I saw a Boston participate in this disgusting eating activity, I was horrified. What kind of crazy rescued dog was this? What on earth would cause a dog to even consider this behavior? It took me a while to discover some basic facts and for those of you that are coming across this for the first time or have a Boston or other breed dog that does this, maybe we can give you some ideas to work with.

Even those dog people who love to talk for hours about stool volume, consistency, etc, etc, don't really want to talk about Copraphagia (poop eating). Nonetheless, some dogs do eat their own poop or that of other dogs, and the owners of such dogs unanimously wish they would not.

Believe this or not, most dog behaviorists do not seem to consider this to be an abnormal behavior.  I will mention one other icky fact, and that dogs partake in many other kinds of feces including cats, cattle and even human (baby) feces.  I have been seeking a solution for this problem in a dog that I have been trying to place.  As you know this little habit does NOT appeal to prospective adopters, who find it disagreeable, disgusting, or revolting.

WHY DO THEY DO IT ?btpoops
While most cases of coprophagia appear to be purely behavioral, there are indeed numerous medical problems that can cause or contribute to coprophagia. These problems must first be ruled out before a purely behavioral diagnosis can be made.¹
It is also generally thought that for many of our rescued dogs, poop eating probably begins as a desperate survival mechanism. The dog who is attempting to stave off starvation will try to scavenge the nourishment that remains in his poop. Thus, the dog who is receiving too little food quantitatively, the dog who is receiving substandard food qualitatively (food which is indigestible or lacking essential nutrients), and the dog whose digestive mechanism is inadequate (eg, lacking adequate production of digestive enzymes), may resort to copraphagia.

In addition, any condition that might cause an increase in appetite or an unusual appetite, such as diabetes, Cushing's disease, thyroid disease, or treatment with certain drugs such as steroids may lead to an increase in stool eating.¹


This may explain some of our dogs that do this, but for other dogs, who knows ?

Many canine behaviorists consider that copraphagia is well within the normal repertoire of canine behavior, rather than being an "aberrant", "abnormal", or "pathological". Quite a few otherwise totally "normal" dogs do it occasionally or more often. Moreover, generally, it is not harmful, beyond perhaps involving ingestion of intestinal parasites from another dog (or another species), and that can be controlled by normal good worming practice (the monthly heartworm prevention medicines also prevent almost all other intestinal parasites except tapeworm, and tapeworm comes from eating an infested flea, not from eating feces). "The owner that uses the outmoded, inhumane and useless training technique of "sticking the dog's nose" in its stool when it has soiled the home, may be further encouraging coprophagia."¹
Although the canine behaviorist might well tell us that the copraphagic dog does not have a "problem" and , rather, that it is we, the humans, who have the problem of finding copraphagia "disgusting", still the fact remains that most of us would go to some degree of trouble to cure our dogsnopoopeatsign of this little habit.



We have looked around the web, social media, and asked our rescue friends for some suggestions to use to correct this "behavior".  If we have missed a method or home remedies that we can try, please leave your thoughts in the comments at the bottom of this article. We know that what works for one dog may not work with another dog;therefore, the more ideas we can come up with, the better luck we may have to correct this behavior.

1. Coprophagia can best be corrected by preventing access to stools, by thorough cleaning of the pet's property, and by constant supervision when the pet is outdoors. If the dog is taught to come to the owners and sit for a special food treat immediately following elimination, the new behavior may become a permanent habit.

 2. Bad taste on feces: This is perhaps the most common treatment for coprophagia. Owners are advised to put something like hot sauce on or in their dogs' feces. The theory is that the dog will consume the treated feces and will have an aversive response to it (due to bad taste) and will eventually cease the behaviour. For this behaviour to be effective, it must be used 100% of the time. Every feces must have hot sauce or other noxious tasting element on it or else the dog will not associate the bad taste with eating the feces. It is the opinion of the authors that the owner should simply pick up the feces instead. Lack of access to feces is the most effective treatment option (described below). Some dogs will stop engaging in coprophaga if the cycle is broken by picking up feces, so that treatment is much easier, much simpler, and a more effective means of controlling coprophagia.
3. Positive Reinforcement: This is the process of reinforcing another behaviour instead of the coprophagia. When the dog is about to begin eating feces, the owner can use any variety of commands. "Leave it", "come", "sit", etc. can all be used. The idea here is to distract the dog long enough to allow the owner to pick the feces up and make the dog forget about the coprophagia behaviour.

4. Adding crushed breath mints to the diet.

5.“Doctoring” each stool with Tabasco® in the hopes of discouraging the dog from the habit.

6. Escorting the dog into a “picked up” area and walking him back inside the house immediately after he has successfully done his business.
7. Adding Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer®to the dog's food. Some people try putting Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper (chili powder) on the feces.

8. Adding commercially available preparations of pancreatic enzymes, to the dog’s food. There are several products found in most pet food stores.  Here are some of these commercial products:
Forbid (TM)(R): This is a powder supplement added to a dog's food. It is thought that this makes the feces taste bad for a coprophagic dog. Note that this must be applied to the food of the dog whose feces is being eaten. It is by veterinary prescription only. The efficacy has not been proven to the satisfaction of the authors. Note also that this can only be given to dogs, so will only be effective with autocoprophagia or intraspecific coprophagia.
Deter (TM)(R): This is a pill given to a dog with its food. Like Forbid, Deter is suspected to make the feces distasteful. It is not veterinary prescribed, but the same issues exist as with Forbid.
A product called "Forbid" is advertised as a means of abolishing copraphagia. Supposedly mixing this product into the dog's food imparts such a vile taste to the resulting feces that the dog soon quits. You can order Forbid from your vet or, less expensively, from various dog catalogs, especially veterinary supply catalogs. One such catalog says that 12 packets should cure most dogs. If that does not do it, then give up on this method for this dog.

POTTY MOUTH by Four Paws costs around $11.00 for 60 tablets. It contains brewers yeast, Cayenne and some other items. Also, you should be able to buy similar products on line. You might also consult your vet who might have some ideas.
9. For the dog whose underlying problem is an insufficiency of digestive enzymes, supplementation with such enzymes mixed with the dog's food should be very helpful. Even if the copraphagia does not stop, the dog's overall health should benefit from better nutritional absorption. Mixtures of cellulase, lipase, protease, and amylase are sold under various names, such as Prozyme, Trenzyme. Several users have reported good success with Trenzyme.These mixtures can be obtained from your vet or from various catalogs at various prices.
10. And "natural digestive enzyme supplements" made from papaya that are sold for human use in health food stores and pharmacies.

11. Likewise, some have reported success by giving the dog canned crushed pineapple, which is very rich in the digestive enzyme bromaline.
12. Supplementation with biotin, one of the B vitamins, has been reported to cure copraphagia in some dogs. Normally biotin is made in the dog's intestine, so perhaps those dogs cured by supplementation are ones whose own internal manufacture is deficient. Biotin can be bought at any health food store or the vitamin section at the pharmacy. Biotin is also one of the ingredients in a product called Itch-X, sold as therapy for various skin and hair disorders. Itch-X contains 6 mg of biotin per teaspoon (plus other vitamins and minerals), and the recommended dose for large dogs is 1/2 teaspoon per day, ie 3 gm of biotin per day. Biotin can be obtained at any store selling vitamins; Itch-X may be ordered through catalogs.
13. A canine nutritionist recommends switching the dog to a diet of maximum digestibility without dyes and artificial preservatives.

14. Most of the methods described in the preceding sections are aimed at truly curing the behavior by eliminating the underlying need which prompts the behavior. Since the underlying causes described are detrimental health problems, such a cure would also improve the dog's overall health. Thus, a trial and error approach to attempt a success or partial success is recommended in the interest of the dog's welfare.
15. For those unable to control (eliminate) their dog's access to his own feces any other way, an anti-copraphagia muzzle could be a last resort.

16.  Some dogs will improve if they are fed more often, so you may want to increase the number of meals (but keep the total daily intake about the same).

 17. Finally of course you can give up and learn to live with the problem. It is, after all, essentially harmless to the dog and to those people around him. It's merely disgusting to you. Yes, it imposes a certain reserve to your welcoming of your dog's greeting kiss, but you will get used to automatically applying the sniff test.

Here is what one of our readers friends from social media has to say about this subject

 Anya Woronzoff: I've also heard pineapple, also meat tenderizer in the food helps dissuade the pup. One of my BTs is a poop eater and the only thing that works for her is this stuff called "Distaste" from Dr. Foster and Smith. I give it to my other dog too because she eats his. I've heard it doesn't work for everyone though, but it's worth a try. There is another brand I heard that is good called "Forbid." I like Distaste because I just throw a tablet in their food once a day. Rosy has been a poop eater since we rescued her. We tried our best to get to the poop before she did, but boy she was quick. Apparently that's pretty typical for mill dogs: December 18, 2012


Here is information I got from Some alternatives to drugs that work for some:
1. Add two to four tablespoons of canned pumpkin to the food bowl each day. Pumpkin apparently tastes good in food, but repugnant when expelled in excrement.
2. Add a spoon (teaspoon or tablespoon depending on the dog's size) of canned pineapple, pineapple juice or spinach to the dog's food.
3. Add some meat tenderizer or MSG to the dog's food.
4. Coat stools, following elimination, with hot sauce or lemon juice... Or booby trap sample stools by penetrating some left in the yard with hot sauce.


¹ Information based on material written by: Debra Horwitz, DVM, Diplomate ACVB & Gary Landsberg, DVM, Diplomate ACVB