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Old May 3rd, 2001, 06:49 PM
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Arrow Dog eats feces - Answered by Dr. Slome

Question:

Dear pets.ca,

My dog is one of those dogs that occasionally eats the poop of other dogs when I take him out for walks or let him run around in the dog parks. He also licks the urine where other dogs have urinated. Obviously I make him stop when I catch him...but I don't always catch him.

So here goes..... why does he do this?
Is it dangerous for him to eat poop or lick urine?
Is it common? How can I get him to stop?

Please Help G.L.

Answer:


Hi GL,

The reason he does this is usually due to behaviour habits. I would almost guarantee that he has not yet been neutered or was neutered as an adult dog rather than a puppy. He is being territorial and relishing in strange dogs' poop/urine or may be trying to remove any evidence of another dog's scent marking territory where he is being walked.
  • It is not usually dangerous but is a disgusting habit and the thought of him then 'kissing' or licking you is not quite as appealing.... for obvious reasons. The danger that may be posed occasionally is that he is susceptible to picking up parasites or bacteria that may cause illness carried by the other dogs.
  • I have seen it or heard of this condition from some of my clients -- usually unneutered males or as indicated before, neutered later in life when territorial habits have already set in.
  • The cure? Start by neutering if you already haven't done so. Secondly you will need some professional help of an obedience trainer who can show properly how to negatively reinforce this behaviour and positively reinforce leaving this alone. Thirdly you would need to discuss this carefully with your Veterinarian whether this is a behaviour issue that may benefit from some behaviour medications available for dogs.

The term of eating poop is called coprophagia but is most commonly reported when dogs eat their own poop. In this case a product called Forbid can be added to the food, but as indicated, you will need to gain some professional advice on the best course for your dog.

Good Luck,

Martin Slome DVM
Centre Street Animal Hospital
Thornhill, Ontario, L4J 7Y3
Tel: (905) 771-9855
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