An unpleasant topic for Markham vets to talk about…

Veterinarians in Markham don’t feel this is the most appealing topic to discuss on the internet, but it is common enough among dog owners…

Imagine you just added a new puppy to your family. You are so excited and proud of this new addition to your family and you can’t wait to show her to everyone. Now imagine your in-laws are coming by for dinner and in the middle of dinner, your new puppy had a bowel movement on its training pad – so far, it’s good news, right? She is improving on her house training skills and using the training pads like she should! But then, she turns around facing the fresh feces, and to everyone’s surprise she decides to eat it all! How embarrassing…the expression on your in-laws’ faces is going to stick with you for a long time… Veterinarians in Markham frequently hear a variation of this story.

Enough! Why do they do THAT? Vets in Markham frequently come across dogs and especially puppies that consume their own feces. Some dogs even eat other dogs’ feces. The scientific term for ‘poop eating’ is coprophagia. Many owners  are too embarrassed to bring it up, but it’s quite common. So why do they do it? Usually there is either a behavioral problem or a medical one. Medical problems have to be ruled out before we treat the problem as purely behavioral. Some of the medical causes of coprophagia include malnutrition – the dog is not getting enough nutrients. Also, if there is a gastrointestinal condition that alters the taste of the feces, the dog might be more inclined to eating it. Parasites are another important thing to think about when considering malnutrition. That’s why Markham veterinarians recommend regular stool tests. In addition, some medical conditions and/or medications can increase an animal’s appetite making it more prone to engage in this behavior.

So what can be done about it? First, you need to rule out the causes mentioned above. After doing that, there are a few different approaches and these will depend on a few things such as the age of the dog, the duration of coprophagia and whether or not the dog is consuming its’ own feces or feces of other dogs as well. For example, if a dog is only eating feces on his walks, then keeping him on a leash and putting a muzzle can help. Cleaning up the backyard is also strongly recommended by Markham veterinary clinics. Another approach is to redirect the dog’s attention and reward him for engaging in a different behavior. There are some products that can be added to the dogs’ food and they alter the taste of the feces and make it less desirable – some are commercially available products and some are simply food additives such as meat tenderizers and pineapple cubes. However, this method has questionable efficacy. In addition, this will not work if the dog is eating feces of other dogs. Generally it is often most effective to simply pick up after your dog and prevent the habit from forming.

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Sincerely,

Dr. Marsig and Team

A Pet Hospital providing Compassionate Advanced Health Care for a Long and Happy Life of ALL Your Pets.

Animal Hospital of Unionville, a veterinary clinic on the north side of  Hwy 7, serving all pets in Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville, and North York since 1966. We are your family vets for dogs, cats, pocket pets (rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils, mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, skinny pigs, etc.), ferrets, and birds (budgies, cockatiel, parrots, amazon, cockatoo, love birds, conures, African greys, finches, canaries, etc.).

Disclaimer: No part of this website constitutes medical advice. Readers are advised to consult with their veterinarian.

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