Last Modified on May 22, 2014
Many pet owners at one time or another must deal with the unfortunate issue of having a pet, whether it be a cat or dog, who enjoys snacking on feces. This rather unpleasant sounding practice is otherwise known as coprophagy. There have been many theories put forth as to why a pet might choose to eat stool, such as dietary deficiencies, anxiety, an inherited trait or maybe because they just enjoy the taste. The truth however is that no one really knows why this occurs. What we do know is that it tends to be more common than what we might like to think it is.
It would be nice if we could just say to our pets, "Listen, this is just not a very socially acceptable practice and frankly I'm not interested in your poopy kisses anymore so you just need to stop!" But, that conversation probably won't have much of an impact on your pet so instead you must take matters into your own hands. Here are a couple of things that you can try:
1. For pets who eat their own feces, there is an all-natural product available called Prozyme which can be added to your pets regular meals. Although the product was not intended to combat the problem of feces eating, it has been reported to help with the issue and in addition is a great food supplement for your pet
The other solution involves a bit of trickery on your part. Use cayenne pepper or hot sauce and generously sprinkle either one on the feces in your cat's litter box or out in the back yard. Most pets are deterred from eating feces again after chomping once or twice on a spicy piece of poop. You should however know going into it that on occasion some pet owners have reported that the animal as a result developed a strange taste bud for the spicy treats!
[YEA] 05/11/2006: Michelle from Okinawa Japan: "Meat Tenderizer also works well for keeping your dogs from eating feces. You just sprinkle a little on their food when you feed them. It doesn't alter the taste of their food and it really keeps them from snacking on theirs or others poo. Helped my dog!"Replies
05/04/2009: Jana from Glendale, AZ replies: "Make sure you check with your vet for Enzymatic Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) disease. It can be detected with a blood test. There is usually an associated infection that requires antibiotics. My dog almost died from this disease before we figured out what it was. They slowly starve because the enzyme that digests the food isn't being made, so food passes through undigested. Since it's undigested, and they are starving to death, they eat it. We got Pancrezyme (pricy) to mix in with food, and she slowly gained weight back to normal. She will have to stay on the enzyme for the rest of her life. There is a subsitutute called Pancreatin which is much cheaper at enzymediane"
09/29/2009: Violet from St. Pete, Fl replies: "This is in response to Michelle. Please check the ingredients in the meat tenderizer you are using. Most of them are pure MSG as well as very high sodium, neither of which are healthy for your pet. You could add some pureed papaya or crushed pineapple to the pet's food, both would result in a nasty tasting stool. You can also buy both in pill form at a health food store... bromelain or papaya pills."
12/16/2009: Momofdogs from Scranton, Kansas, USA replies: "My 1 1/2 yr old puggle has eaten poop since he was little. We have tried pills from the petstore, powder from the vet, pineapple and I have run around outside & put hot sauce, or chili powder on feces and he still eats it. In fact he loves the hot flavors! I also have a GSD & they both eat cat feces from the ferral cats. I have changed food, but it does not seem to matter. I am going to try the Prozyme mentioned above & see if that will work."
12/17/2009: Charlotte from Boston, Ma replies: "The only time my dog has eaten poop was when we put her on a diet and she wasn't getting enough food. Once I added more food, it never happened again. Same thing with my neighbor, who had a black lab. He was a huge, overweight dog (poor thing) who didn't get any exercise. Rather than giving him more exercise, my neighbor cut his food in half. Well he started gobbling down dog poop left and right after that. I think everyone should consider this first. Also,I believe some dog food brands (especially the cheapo brands) may not contain all the nutrients or fat content that a dog needs, so that may contribute to the poop eating issue as well! Good luck!"
02/21/2010: Shirl from Clarksburg, Wv replies: "I have been using yucca oil for 10yrs to stop the poop eating. My Baby (dogs name)was eating poop from the day i got her, it would make my stomach turn every time i seen her do this. I ran across the site and have been using it ever since, it also helps the body, and breath Oder. An extra it keeps the grass from turning brown."
09/03/2010: Ana from Houston, Tx, Usa replies: "Where do you get Pancreayme, is it prescribed? and Yucca oil and how much do you use for a 22 lbs dog?"
05/14/2012: Minkxy from Brooklyn, Ny replies: "FYI my daughter was told by a vet to use meat tenderizer for poo eating problem. After she gave it to the cat, bloody urine, incontinence 2 days later. 2 more days the 3 yr old was in hospital. After being out for 2 days he began the same problems. I found out and came here. Started him on ACV, and cranberry. I really can't imagine what meat tenderizer does to the insides of cats... Tenderizes it at best. 1 day, so far, into ACV treatment. Tail's is much better."
09/06/2011: Leenott from St Albert, Ab Canada: "Hi, I recently left the Domonican Republic to go home with 3 little dogs (we took them with us to DR)
I had to leave a Maremma there as it was going to be a way too difficult task to get him home.
I found him a home which I thought was perfect, but he has problems with thunder and being a Maremma, he barks. The woman I gave him to is not coping and has been trying to give him away on and off for the last couple of months and I suspect that he feels insecure.
Out of the blue he has started to eat his own poo. (so the woman tells me) He is 5yo, a neutered male and he has NEVER done this before. She feeds the dogs Royal Canin and this is good dog food, he has free access to food at all times.
Any suggestions on why this is happening and what to do ?"Replies
09/08/2011: Jen from Bozeman, Mt, Us replies: "I watched an episode of " The Dog Whisperer" With a dog who had this same issue. The trainer on the show figured out that the dog was deficient in potassium and got the dog to stop eating his own poop by using a banana to draw the attention away from the poop. He would give him a little piece every time the dog would look at the poop. The dog stopped eating its own poop and I'm sure the owners banana bill went up."
07/13/2009: Patti from Detroit, MI: "I have 3 female Labrador retrievers, ages 12, 6 and 4 years. All very well behaved, they get a nice long walk every day, and are all very healthy - except the youngest who has the disgusting unclean habit of eating feces! (Never her own) Is there something I can add to the feed of the other 2 to make their excrement less appetizing? Or something to give her? Any experience or input on this problem will be appreciated!!"Replies
08/16/2009: Kassandra from Owosso, Michigan replies: "Patti, My dog as well as my parent's dogs used to eat their feces. I still to this day don't know why they did it. We decided to switch their dog food and ever since then, they no longer eat feces. I'm not sure if this is the case with your dogs, but you could give it a try if you wanted. I always thought that my dog ate her feces because the dog food I was feeding her wasn't giving her all of the nutrition she needed, like she couldn't fill up on it or something. I still use the same brand, but I chose food that doesn't have artificial flavors, dyes or preservatives and higher protein. She is a totally different dog. I hope I was of some help to you."
09/29/2009: Violet from St. Pete, Fl replies: "Patti, add a spoonful of crushed pineapple or pureed papaya to their dinner to make the stool unpalatable."
10/02/2009: Janice from Coloma, Mi replies: "I have a female Lab who is on a healthy raw food diet but when I take her out for a walk in the evening, she still has to eat poop. She is very selective though. She only eats deer poop! I haven't been able to figure it out. She did this when I had her on store bought food also."
10/10/2009: Rosemarie from Greenwich, Ct replies: "Hi, I adopted a dog a few years ago and she came with alot of issues. I have been trying to deal with them one at a time and its been a struggle. We just moved and in our back yard I find feces from another animal that is not dog. I noticed one day when I let my dog out that she was eating something and when I looked it was poop! I think it may be deer poop, but not sure. I just wonder if it were like Janice from Coloma. Possibly there is something in what the deer eat that may make it appetizing for dogs like how Lions love to roll around in elephant dung? I make my dog her own food and do not buy store food. Possibly lacking enzymes?"
10/05/2010: Janice from Toronto, On, Canada replies: "My dog occasionally likes to eat poop, only once her own because of a certain dog food but last week she was rolling her poop, I gave her a bath 3 times last night with AVC and Salt and Baking Soda and Dog Shampoo, bathed her twice since and used an entire bottle of "Odour End" from the Vets which neutralizes the bacteria causing the odor (works great) but smell is still there..... I've been brushing her 3 times daily with cedar, spruce and flower branches and grass..... Someone used vanilla extract for their dog during a skunk episode, doing that tonight with dog shampoo, I hope it's the last bath..... But the Odour End and branches and flowers used as a brush do work best, have a feeling the dog shampoo with Vanilla Extract will help."
01/19/2011: Marianne from Johnsburg, Ny replies: "Pouring a little carpet cleaner soap on the poop will stop them. I have 2 7 month old dogs and this was driving me crazy. They both were eating the cat poop outside. This works!"
06/12/2012: Lucy from Toronto, On, Canada replies: "Im no expert by any means, but I think its pretty common for any dog to devour deer and rabbit poop, my dogs love it and I cant always catch them when they eat it... Its treats for them like candy... Its just digested grasses and plants which their own bodies cant digest. It may have parasites etc in it though.. So I regularly feed teeny bits of garlic to kill the parasites. If you buy raw Tripe, it has freshly chewed grasses and smells like poop, .. Tremendously healthy for dogs.. Dont buy bleached.. Buy the real, brown stinky tripe... satisfy their craving for digested grasses and has very beneficial enzymes in it."