Eating Feces and Other Things That Aren't Food
While dogs can ingest most anything, eating rocks,
socks, or feces seem to be the Big Three that prompt calls
to us. Dogs may also gulp down items they’ve taken
from the trash when owners rush to take things away from
them or try to pry something out of the dog’s mouth.
Some items that your dog ingests can create life-threatening
intestinal blockages, so your dog’s life may depend
on stopping this behavior. The technical term for this
behavior is pica – eating things that aren’t
Eating feces is called coprophagia. Dogs are prone to
eating both their own and other animal’s feces, but
we’ve never known cats to do this. Coprophagy is
often more bothersome to people than it is to dogs. People
become annoyed by feces eating when it causes the dog to
vomit, creates bad breath, or because the behavior just
seems disgusting. Learn more about this behavior and options
to prevent it from our audio CD described below.
The simplest intervention is to keep your yard and house
picked up. Clean up feces daily from the yard. If your
dog likes to eat socks, don’t leave socks lying around.
If you can’t keep your pet away from the items, use
harmless “booby-traps” such as the SSSCat™ ,
which you can read more about below.
Some experts believe that prying and pulling items out
of dogs’ mouth when they have something they shouldn’t
is one cause of pica. Avoid doing this and instead teach
your dog to “give” what’s in his mouth
when you ask him to. Learn how to do this from our “Raising
a Behaviorally Healthy Puppy” book described below.
Some over the counter products are sometimes effective
in stopping coprophagia. These products work some of the
time with some dogs, but are not consistent in their effects.
Other products are available only through your veterinarian
so you should ask which ones your veterinarian believes
would be best for your dog.
If these general suggestions aren’t working, and
especially if the pica is causing life-threatening blockages,
you should seek professional help, preferably from a certified
applied or veterinary behaviorist. Read our guidelines for choosing a behavior consultant. .
PRODUCTS FROM HELPING FIDO THAT
WILL HELP YOU UNDERSTAND, PREVENT AND RESOLVE THE EATING
OF NON-FOOD ITEMS
Our audio CD Understanding
Dogs That Eat Poop: Coprophagia thoroughly
explains what is known about this behavior and gives you
a variety of strategies to manage and modify it.
The SSSCat is a motion detector that emits a harmless
spray and hissing sound when triggered by movement.
Strategically place it in front of items you’ve baited
your dog with. Designed not only for cats but small or
easily frightened dogs, this product is also useful for
counter surfers and trash trowlers. Can also be used to
discourage housesoiling and urine marking.