Updated: August 2018
Poop breath sucks!
There’s nothing worse than your pooch coming in for a doggy kiss and their breath stinks to high heaven.
And seeing their teeth caked with fresh, smelly poop is enough to make anyone want to puke.
But you already know that.
And I know it well too, because my boy was a big fan of eating poop at one stage of his life. But more on that in a moment…
If you’re like me who repeated the phrase “My dog is eating poop how do I stop it” to everyone and their mother. You’ve come to the right place.
And if you’re also like me, you’ve tried every trick in the book. And you’re either pulling your hair out, or you’re about to.
There’s so much information out there and it can be confusing to find something that works.
Every Tom, Dick and Harry has some weirdo solution. And some of those solutions are freaking dangerous. And some can cause your dog pain.
My Dog Ate Poop Snacks
Yes, it’s true. My dog used to snack on poop.
Zè was about 4 months old when he started snacking on poop.
At first I thought it was part of the puppy experimenting phase. So I did what every good dog owner in my shoes would do…
But it didn’t work.
So I tried something else and something else and…
To my horror, he just would not stop. And I was confused…
Until finally, I found out what was going on with my dog. I’ll share more on this later…
The habit of eating poop is called coprophagia. And it’s not something you should ignore.
Yes, pups explore the world around them through their mouths. But if your pooch is constantly eating poop, something’s up and you need to fix it.
I’ll Do Anything, But I Won’t Do That…
So, I’m going to say right off the bat there’s one thing I was not willing to try to stop the poop snacking.
Hot sauces or chilies. Yes, believe it or not, that’s one of the supposed solutions to this problem.
I think it’s cruel to make a dog eat hot stuff like sauce or chilies.
But in case you’re wondering, here’s how it works…
You walk around your yard sprinkling hot sauce or dried chilies on any pile of poop you find.
I guarantee you it won’t work. Here’s why…
Your dog has a super powerful nose. It’s their strongest sense.
The chances of them actually eating poop sprinkled with hot stuff is pretty much zero. They’re not daft!
And when you miss a land mine. And you will. It’s going straight down the chute and into your pooch’s tummy.
So What are Those Something Else’s I Tried?
The usual. Probably stuff you’ve tried already or have read about.
- Training a ‘leave it’ command was my first port of call. It didn’t work for poop eating but now my boy has a solid leave it behavior. So at least that’s a positive!
- I took my boy to different vets to see if they could help me.
- I did poop patrol to clean up after every potty run.
- I fed him pineapple.
- I sprayed his food with things like Copronat which was recommended by a vet.
- I tried all kinds of natural bitter sprays.
- And I even tried a variety of homeopathic remedies.
So why am I sharing all of this with you?
I’ll get to that in a minute…
17 Reasons Why Dogs Eat Poop
- Parasites – If intestinal parasites are present, they absorb all the nutrients your pooch needs. This can cause your dog to snack on poop.
- Underfeeding – Feeding too little, especially for a growing pup can cause them to eat anything they find, including poop.
- Nutrient deficient diets – Poor diets that are nutrient deficient will cause your dog to look for ‘food’ in other places.
- Malabsorption diseases – Such as EPI will cause your dog to slowly starve since they can’t absorb nutrients from their food.
- Medical conditions causing increased appetite – Like diabetes or Cushing’s disease.
- Drugs – Medication like steroids will cause an increase in appetite.
- Isolation – Dogs are social animals. Extended periods of isolation can cause stress and lead to behaviors like poop eating.
- Confinement – Dogs are working animals and even small puppies and small breeds need to have ample space to move. Confinement can cause unwanted behaviors like poop eating.
- Attention-seeking – Our dogs love attention! If you’re giving the wrong attention to poop eating, your dog is likely to continue doing it.
- Anxiety – Like with humans, stress makes dogs do strange things, like eat poop. Things like punishment, confinement or isolation can cause stress and anxiety.
- Sharing a living space with a sick dog – This likely comes from the ‘pack protection’ mentality. Your dog might eat the poop of a sick pack mate which is common in the wild to protect the pack from predators.
- Feeding close to feces – If a dog is fed close to fecal matter they could likely make a positive connection between the two, which is what you don’t want.
- Learned behavior from their mother – Mothers clean the den by eating the feces of her pups. Some pups pick up this behavior and continue to eat poop after they have left the litter.
- Boredom – Dogs are working animals. If they are not stimulated mentally and physically they could get into eating poop as a way to relieve their boredom.
- Scavenging – Dogs are natural scavengers. Smelly things like poop don’t repulse them. So if the opportunity arises they might me inclined to take a bite.
- Born in a puppy mill – Dr. Karen Becker, DVM is of the opinion that pups born in puppy mills are more likely to eat poop. This is because they are crated most of the time and also under-fed.
- Avoid punishment – If a dog is punished for messing in the wrong place, they can develop poop eating behavior to ‘hide the evidence’.
Why was MY Dog Snacking on Poop
Remember earlier on I mentioned after months and months I finally found out why my dog was eating poop?
Well, it turned out he has Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI).
In a nutshell, his pancreas doesn’t function properly leaving his body malnourished. As a result a dog with EPI wastes away.
So they’ll literally eat anything they find.
It’s deadly if it’s not caught in time. And sadly, it’s a disease that’s usually diagnosed too late.
But we were lucky!
We changed his lifestyle, and today he’s a healthy, happy 4 year old.
And in my opinion handsome too!
That’s my experience with coprophagia. And it happened almost five
four years ago.
Now what about you and your dog…
My Dog is Eating Poop How do I Stop It?
Recently I was contacted by Vernon.
He wanted to know if I’d be interested in reviewing a book he wrote on ways to help dogs with coprophagia.
Since I have experience with a poop snacking dog I agreed.
Before I get into the meat and potatoes of the book I need to make something clear…
I received a free copy of this book to review. But my opinions are unbiased and my own.
In fact there is some advice in the book I don’t agree with. And I’ll be sharing that with your too.
Also, I figured out how to stop my dog from eating poop almost four years ago. Long before this book landed in my hands.
So I’ve got a lot of research under my belt. And the ultimate solution this book gives is exactly what I did way back when.
Eliminate Potty-Mouth Book Review
The Eliminate Potty-Mouth book is 51 pages of thoroughly researched information.
It goes into great detail about 3 ways you can stop your dog from eating poop.
But first, it starts off with the most important advice…
Visit a vet to give your dog a once over and eliminate any medical reasons for their poop eating habit.
And change your reaction when you catch your dog in the act.
This second point is actually extremely important…
Keep your reactions in check.
It’s a well known fact that reacting to any unwanted behavior will reinforce it.
You see, your dog loves your attention. So even if you’re reacting negatively, your pooch is getting what they want. Attention.
The book suggests not letting your dog see you clean their poop. Apparently this might cause them to try and ‘copy’ you. And so they’ll continue eating poop.
I don’t agree with this. To believe this one would have to believe that dogs see humans as dogs.
But your dog knows you are not a dog. So I guarantee you cleaning your dog’s poop while they are watching means nothing to them.
Another well known fact is that any negative reactions to pooping and peeing can cause some dogs to become nervous and secretive about going to the toilet.
Do that and you’ll have problems on your hands that may take years to fix.
The Gut Fix
The Gut Fix is the first method this book suggests to stop poop snacking.
According to Vernon this method is 80% successful. And in his opinion the method most folks should opt for.
In my opinion, I agree wholeheartedly. It’s the method that saved my boy from certain death. And stopped his poop eating almost instantly.
It touches on the basics in this section. But later in the book it goes into great detail on why this method works. And how to go about doing it.
The Supplement Method
According to the book, if the Gut Fix doesn’t work the next step is to add supplements.
I’m a big supporter of adding healthy supplements to a dog’s food.
In fact, I use both The Gut Fix and the Supplement Method together. And I see great results with my dogs but especially with Zè.
According to Vernon’s research only about 10% of dogs respond to this method. That’s why I recommend following The Gut Fix and Supplement Method together.
Of course it’s essential to speak with your vet if you’re planning on making changes to your dog’s diet. Or adding supplements.
I like how the book goes into detail about supplements that can specifically help with coprophagia.
And they are things you can easily find at health stores and the grocery isle.
A well known supplement is Apple Cider Vinegar. And I totally agree with Vernon when he says to only buy the organic one.
The book suggests adding the vinegar to your dog’s food. I’m sure that will work just fine.
But, I add the Apple Cider Vinegar to my dog’s water bowl and not to my ex-poop eater’s food. That way it benefits all my dogs.
There is one supplement Vernon recommends that I disagree with.
And that’s Brewer’s Yeast.
Brewer’s Yeast comes from a fungus and it’s used to make things like beer and bread.
I have a few problems with this supplement…
First off, it’s likely you’re going to get the yeast swept up off floors after the brewing and baking in factories.
Sure, if you buy a well known brand this might not be the case. But I’m not willing to take that chance.
Also, high amounts of yeast can cause and worsen yeast infections. These kinds of infections frequently show up in the ears and mouths of dogs.
And Brewer’s Yeast is also known to cause gas and bloating.
None of these side effects are worth the B vitamins that Brewer’s Yeast provides. There are other ways to supplement your dog’s diet with B vitamins if they need them.
But I’m 100% behind Vernon with the other supplements and vegetables he suggests.
The Clicker Training Method
This method is the first thing I did when I realized my dog was a poop eater.
I trained Zè a solid leave it command using positive reinforcement and a clicker.
This type of training is force-free and kind. And it’s based on solid psychology and scientific research.
Vernon goes deep into how you will teach your dog to ‘leave it’. He goes all the way from how to charge the clicker and details the training method step-by-step.
And the book goes the extra mile too…
Vernon doesn’t leave you trying to figure out how to put this into practice. He details exactly how you can apply the ‘leave it’ command to a situation where your pooch is about to take a bite of poop.
I like how he takes the time to show you how to apply this behavior in a real life situation.
I had to laugh a little when he suggested using popcorn as the ‘not so nice treat’! My dogs adore popcorn!
In my opinion, teaching a solid ‘leave it’ is something you should teach your dog. Whether they eat poop or not.
So again, I think this method should go hand in hand with The Gut Fix and the Supplement Method.
Unfortunately for us it worked for everything else except poop. But it’s still something I highly recommend you teach your pooch.
And you should do this today.
Evaluation and Deterrence
Here the book gives great tips on how to test whether the training is cemented in your dog’s behavior.
Again a real life example for a real life situation.
There is one part I don’t agree with though…
Remember earlier when I mentioned I’d never use hot sauce or chilies to deter my dog from poop eating?
Well, this book does recommend this method. And apparently the ASPCA supports it as a training method.
In all honesty, I’ve never had much regard for ASPCA’s opinions when it comes to dog training. So my recommendation is to avoid any hot sauce or chilies altogether.
Why Does My Dog Have This Disgusting Habit?
In this section the book details 9 reasons why your dog might be a poop eater.
They range from ancestry to deficiencies and overfeeding to name just a few.
There’s also a section of possible health issues that cause coprophagia like EPI, which is what my boy has.
Factors Making Your Dog Prone to Poop Eating
Researchers in the Netherlands at Wageningen University studied over 500 dogs to identify things that can cause coprophagia.
This book spends a great deal of time breaking down the 6 most significant factors. And Vernon also shares his opinions based on personal experience. Some of which are in conflict with the study done. But I see this as a positive thing.
It shows he’s actually got experience and credibility. He’s not just re-hashing information.
- Certain breeds are more likely to be poop eaters.
- Dogs who have had more than one owner are more prone to poop snacking.
Are There Dangers to Dog Poop?
You’ve been asking yourself this question from the get go. And maybe you already know the dangers.
Infections like Salmonella and Toxocariasis are serious risks you and your family face. If these micro-organisms are there, they are passed on through licking. And possibly from touching your dog.
The book goes into some detail about dangers and symptoms.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. There’s some good news too! While you’re working to get to get your dog’s lifestyle changed to stop poop-snacking and If you keep your yard clean, you’ll be safe.
How Serious is the Problem?
Eliminate Potty-Mouth has an important section on classifying 4 risks in high, medium and low.
Autocoprophagia is when your dog eats only their poop. Of course this is serious. But compared to the other 3 risks this one is classified as low.
What Commercial Remedies are Out There?
In this section the book looks at 11 major brands on the market to curb coprophagia.
Before we found the cause of the poop eating and implemented the solution, I tried some of these. But we had no positive results.
Vernon created a graph showing which ingredients in each of the brands are questionable. And makes it clear that he is not comfortable with them.
The only down side is the graph is so small you can’t see anything. And trying to enlarge it only makes it more blurry.
This annoyed me. I think this is important information. A clearer copy of the graph should be provided.
It’s all About a Diet and Lifestyle Change
Remember earlier I mentioned that I changed my dog’s lifestyle?
Well, that was what he needed to get the nutrients his body was lacking. And to keep his pancreas healthy.
The crux of this book is to support you in changing your dog’s lifestyle. And to eliminate their poop eating habit naturally.
Of course it would be unfair of me to detail everything Vernon advises in his book here.
But in a nutshell it’s all about diet and lifestyle changes. And I totally support his advice. It’s exactly what I did to finally get Zè to stop eating poop.
Except, I had to take the long route because this book was not available when we were dealing with coprophagia.
And once we made the change, he stopped his poop eating habit almost immediately.
Should You Buy the Eliminate Potty-Mouth Book?
Okay, I don’t agree with everything in this book. But the things I disagree with don’t take away from the solid information and advice it the book.
And in my opinion, I recommend using all 3 the methods together. Or at a minimum the gut Fix and Clicker Training methods. You can always add supplements later.
The changes work. I know because I made them.
I’m not going to lie to you…
This change takes planning and a total mindset change on your part. But I can’t express how worth it the change is.
I enjoy doggy kisses on a daily basis and I never have to smell poop. I also never have to see my dog’s pearly white gnashers caked in crap.
If your mind’s been going wild with “my dog is eating poop how do I stop it?” Go ahead and get the book.