Behavior Tip of the Month
Puppy Eats Feces
My Sheltie puppy, Bonnie, is eating her feces. It's disgusting. My sister says I should put her down since she's abnormal. HELP!
Coprophagy, or eating feces is not really abnormal for canines. However, most pet dogs do grow out of it.
Mother dogs consume their pups' waste to prevent bacterial infections in the nest. Many wolves and ranch dogs eat horse and cow nuggets. The behavior is objectionable to humans but "hot-wired" into wolves and many dogs.
Another theory is that coprophagy is caused by a nutritional deficiency. Canines eating waste may be seeking out the undigested protein in the feces. Make sure Bonnie is on a natural preservative free low protein food to lessen the "protein appeal" of her poop. Consult your veterinarian. Sometimes adding enzymes and acidophilus to your dog's food can help. These may fill a nutritional need.
1. Bonnie may also be bored. Keep her with the family, not in the back yard with nothing to do. Shelties are herding dogs and need lots of aerobic exercise. You probably don't want to keep sheep in your back yard. As an alternative, involve Bonnie in sports like Flyball or Agility. Retrieving games are great fun and can be played while you are watching TV.
2. Young dogs need chewing outlets. Provide Bonnie with lots of safe chew toys. OK them with your veterinarian. Raw hollow femur bones from the butcher are excellent natural chews. Remember not to cook them or they can splinter.1
3. Teach Bonnie the command " Leave it" or "Don't touch". That way, you will have control of her behavior after she defecates. You can also put her on leash to prevent her access to the feces.
4. Whatever the cause of the noxious habit, make sure to go outside with Bonnie and CLEAN UP every time she goes. Coprophagia becomes a habit if you're not religious in immediately cleaning up.
Dr. Bruce Persky of San Carlos Veterinary Hospital recommends buying spinach powder or extract. He says to mix it in with your dog's food to make the formerly fascinating feces taste bitter and disgusting.
If Bonnie does eat a turd, don't panic. Dr. Persky says, "eating feces won't harm the dog, just don't kiss her on the mouth"!
Good luck and I hope your pup turns into a sweet smelling dog,
1Caution. While raw bones are less likely to chip or splinter than cooked bones, and raw bones can be a source of natural protein for your dog, they are not without risk. Like any raw meat product, raw bones carry a risk of disease. Also, larger dogs can still crush and splinter raw bones. For these reasons, the SCVH Staff recommends caution when giving your dog raw bones to chew on. The following Web site offers further information on this topic: http://www.thepetcenter.com/imtop/bones.html
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