Maggie’s Dirty Little Secret

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dogreadytoeatToday we are going to touch on a subject not covered very often, mostly because you hate to admit it or even think about it. I’m talking about poop eating or Coprophagia (cop-row-fage-ee-uh). It may not be discussed in polite company, but occurs frequently I’m afraid, and Maggie, our sweet little Maggie May is an offender.
What is Coprophagia?
It’s dogs eating their own or another animals feces. Sounds totally disgusting and unappetizing to us, but some dogs do enjoy it, they may even become obsessed with doing it and follow another dog around waiting for them to poop.
Contrary to conventional wisdom about Coprophagia, there is no indication that it is due to a nutritional deficiency, although a healthy & nutritionally complete diet is important for you dogs health. If your dog is fed a low-grade kibble from the grocery store, there isn’t a lot of nutrients to be found there and feces may be just another way to fill up their stomach.

What causes it?
It is common mothering behavior for mother dogs to clean up after their pups or to stimulate their bowels by licking them. Another common cause is an environment where they are underfed or malnourished and the dog resorts to eating their own feces or other dogs feces due to hunger.
My guess is that both of those situations played a role in this habit developing with Maggie – she lived as a puppy mill breeder mom and all evidence when we adopted her indicated she endured a rough and neglected environment. Plus, she was a mom, many times over, so she had two of the common causes.
What’s interesting about Maggie, is she only eats Jack’s poop. She’ll sniff all the other poop we come across, but big brother’s – that’s the caviar. Sometimes I have to race to get the pooper scooper in order to beat her to the poop.
Another potential cause or attraction is the partially digested food that can be found in the feces. We give Jack and Maggie vegetables – particularly carrots and sometimes they aren’t fully digested, which makes the feces more appetizing.

What do you do about it?
Other than being pretty gross, it’s not really harming them – as long as that’s not their only nourishment of course. But there are a few things you can do to deter the behavior:

  • Get your dog checked by the vet to rule out any underlying health issues, a parasite or some other deficiency.
  • Be sure and clean up the feces from the yard immediately. Don’t leave it around for them to get to.
  • Be sure the food they eat is highly digestible to make their feces less attractive.
  • Use a taste deterrent to train them not to eat feces. Place the deterrent such as meat tenderizer, Tabasco, Bitter Apple, etc. on any and all feces to train them not to eat it. This may take awhile for them to learn to avoid the nasty tasting stuff, but it’s better than a constant struggle.

    If any of you have other tips, please share. Meanwhile, Maggie is starting a local chapter of Poop Eaters Anonymous – any one want to join?

    Additional Resources:

    Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

    Five Reasons Dog’s Eat Poop
    Why Do Dogs (and Cats) Eat Poop?



    We are joining up with the Monday Mischief Blog Hop, hosted by Snoopy’s Dog Blog, Alfie’s Blog and My Brown Newfies



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  1. Maybe nutritional deficiency isn’t proven to be a cause of coprophagia; but I have seen definite signs from Callie and Shadow that ANY kibble — high or medium quality — and even some canned food gives them the urge to eat their own poop. Over the last two years, I have tried to switch their food to higher quality, more “holistic” brands that would also be easier on our wallet. And, each time they went back to that old disgusting-to-Mom habit. So, after all the switching back and forth messed up their digestion really bad, I decided enough was enough. No more changing their diet all the time. Sticking with the one food that doesn’t give them the urge to eat their own poop has finally put an end to it.

    (Thank Steve for me for all the research he did for me — I truly do appreciate it! — but since I put all three dogs back on the Fresh Pet Select, and convinced hubby that the people food he was sneaking them was a big part of the problem, their digestive issues have mostly resolved themselves and they are feeling much better.). Shadow finished her last round of meds 3 weeks ago and has not had any more issues. (Knock on wood that I haven’t jinxed her!).

    Another tip is this: In addition to cleaning up after the dog as quickly as possible, do it at a time when they can’t see you doing it. I don’t know why, but for some reason it works, at least with my girls.
    Callie, Shadow, and Ducky’s Mom recently posted…One of Those DUH MomentsMy Profile

    • So glad to hear they’re doing well on the Fresh Pet. I wonder if seeing you collect it makes it seem like a prize to be had…or that they are helping?
      mkob recently posted…Maggie’s Dirty Little SecretMy Profile

  2. It’s like a miracle :o) Easy did it as he was a puppy, I asked google and I’ve got a gazillion of different tips. From feeding stinky cheese to using a water gun when I caught him in the act, but I found nothing what was really helpful :o( Fortunately the problem was solved by itself after some weeks and the only special treat he still likes is sheep’s poo…
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog BAD POETRY MOANDAYMy Profile

    • Well, sheep’s poo – how can you resist. Jack’s favorite is coyote poop…but he’s growing out of that.
      mkob recently posted…Maggie’s Dirty Little SecretMy Profile

  3. My Pasha used to do that. And then afterwards, he’d want to give me a big ol’ slobbery poo-kiss. Yuck.

    He had that habit for most of his life, until he got too old. The only way we were able to control it was by training him; we’d let him sniff it and give a treat if he didn’t eat it. That worked, a little. We were also extra vigilant about keeping the yard clean.

    But if we went on a walk, and there was goose poop, forget about it. We couldn’t keep him away from it.

    Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats
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    • Yeah, I’ve given up on the horse poop and coyote poop – there’s just too much of it. They are both pretty good about it and only grab some if I’m not paying attention. But Maggie is still pretty enticed by Jack’s…
      mkob recently posted…Maggie’s Dirty Little SecretMy Profile

  4. I had a habit of grabbing snacks out of the cat box, a real self rewarding behavior! Now the cat box is out of my reach. Bailie would eat anything when we first got her, including her own poop. Mom was totally grossed out and embarrassed, but luckily with a bit of training we got her to stop. For most it is not that easy to change the behavior, but we were lucky. Maggie, we know other dogs with your habit too, so you are not alone!
    Emma recently posted…Emma’s Wabbit Habit PoemMy Profile

  5. Thankfully, we haven’t had that exact problem. Ours is the poop in the yard from wildlife 🙁 Mostly the dogs have learned to leave it.
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    • Wildlife poop is also attractive. Our Sally used to graze like cattle on the rabbit poop. Jack and Maggie not so much.
      mkob recently posted…Maggie’s Dirty Little SecretMy Profile

  6. We got through spurts of poop eating. Some times we graze, sometimes we could care less, we just like to keep mom on her toes! BOL!!
    Miley recently posted…2 Eccentric Dogs Horsing AroundMy Profile

  7. TY for publishing this one……… My boy eats Blue Buffalo but if he finds the wildlife (namely deer) poop, it’s fair “game.” As he has gotten older, he will listen to me tell him to leave it, but I still always worry as I too, get big sloppy kisses!

    • Yeah – the worst part of those kisses is wondering if enough time has passed that the poop is gone.
      mkob recently posted…Maggie’s Dirty Little SecretMy Profile

  8. Katy could be a member. We have her regularly screened for worms on the vet’s advice. We’ve tried all kinds of things too. Oddly as someone mentioned it is mainly the backyard poop that is the issue. Haven’t had her scooping it when we’ve been out walking.
    Bailey recently posted…Monday Mischief: Parallel SheltiesMy Profile

    • Not much you can do about the wildlife poop – we have dozens of rabbits in our neighborhood, so it’s just a fact of life here.
      mkob recently posted…Maggie’s Dirty Little SecretMy Profile

  9. Mauja and Atka went through lovely poop eating phases when they were younger. I’m thankful they have outgrown in. Although, goose poop is a rare delicacy to them 😉
    It’s Dog or Nothing recently posted…Every Life Has ValueMy Profile

    • Both Jack and Maggie have pretty much outgrown or grown weary of horse poop. Jack still likes coyote poop though.
      mkob recently posted…Maggie’s Dirty Little SecretMy Profile

  10. I’ve always wondered about the nutrient deficiency side of this, I’ve heard it so many times but never found any proof. Two of the dogs I grew up with were obsessed with goose poop, whenever we wen’t to the beach I tried to avoid the “landmines” aka areas where the geese had been. Thanks for sharing.
    Jen Jelly recently posted…The Secret To Effective Animal Networking – Six Simple TricksMy Profile

  11. Hi. My name is Patches. I eat chicken poop. And duck poop. And cat poop. But never dog poop.

    Seriously – do you think it might be a grain issue with the fowl? They eat a lot of grain. But the dogs will also eat rabbit and cat poop. I’ve never stressed about it, though.
    Flea recently posted…Conjunction Junction, FBM 85My Profile

  12. Thankfully Kilo doesn’t do this… or that I know of. Now I’m going to keep an eye on that little boy!

  13. ICK! So nasty. Luckily my huskies prefer to stay away from poop. It’s funny. Whenever they come across some poop, they get the most disgusted look on their face and side step around it.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
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  14. Bentley and Pierre aren’t partakers of poop. They do like to get a sniff though.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Sketchy FriendsMy Profile

  15. My Buddy won’t eat his, but he does seem to like anything left behind by coyotes, geese, cows, horses, you name it. He gets dewormed regularly!
    Buddy recently posted…Winter is ComingMy Profile

  16. Oh, Maggie … silly girl. I am glad Ace doesn’t eat dog poop, but he did go through a phase where he would eat the cat poop. So gross! He did this while on prednisone, which made him extremely hungry all the time.

    My parents’ golden used to be a poop eater. One time I saw her eating it right from their other dog while that dog was still pooping!! Haha. Thankfully, she seemed to mostly grow out of that habit, although I think she still grabs a little “snack” every now in then in the yard. Just not as often as she used to.
    Lindsay recently posted…Do dogs miss us when we travel without them?My Profile

    • Yeah Maggie goes through phases…sometimes she doesn’t bother and sometimes she’s obsessed. I should maybe track what I’m feeding Jack and that might give me a clue!
      mkob recently posted…Maggie’s Dirty Little SecretMy Profile

  17. My dogs don’t eat their poop or any other dog’s poop, thankfully.. but they have eaten goose poop and Phoenix has gotten into the cat litterbox before. I’ve managed that by not walking them where there are massive quantities of geese and we’ve done some re-arranging with the litterboxes so the dogs can’t get to them.
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  18. Believe it or not, Mr. K feels so guilty if he has an accident in the house that he’ll often clean up as much of it as he can. Gross, I know. Luckily, that rarely happens. Much love, The Scottie Mom.
    The Scottie Mom recently posted…Gone CountryMy Profile

  19. Oh, yeah, we see this in some dogs at the shelter. And the vast majority of them love to eat the bunny poop out in the play field! Luckily Rita is not a poop eater, but she’s never had a chance to get at cat poo…. Not sure she could resist that snack!
    Jackie Bouchard recently posted…Monday Mischief: Chicken Treats?My Profile

  20. Riley doesn’t eat poop, but I see a lot of it where I work. A lot of it is that the dogs may have ingested so many yummy treats that their poop actually seems like a treat to them…another issue I have seen is the dog being territorial. If there is more than one dog in a small area, I’ve seen one dog “guard” their poop and scarf it up as if afraid the other dog is going to get to it first. Oh, the way dogs’ minds work. Fascinating stuff! 🙂
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  21. Rabbit snacks seem to be Harley’s thing, but not regularly (thank the doodle!)
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  22. Glad I wasn’t eating while reading this one – LOL! I’ve had this problem w/ my dogs in the past. Cat poo is also a delicacy to dogs! Cleaning up the poo immediately was the best deterrent for us, I practically followed Isis around w/ the pooper scooper! Feeding them pineapple along w/ their food can also help, it makes the poo taste bad. Icky topic but it’s got to be said!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Cathy, Isis & Phoebe
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  23. You hit the nail on the head. Sadly, this is common in mill dogs. Daisy and Jasper both have this issue. Maggie just likes to roll in it. I think it is a combination of factors that leads to the behavior in mills: hunger, boredom and cleanliness. If you think how rarely these dogs had a clean kennel or could play or were fed, it makes sense. No shame needed. They are victims of their upbringing.
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  24. My cousin had a dog who ate her own poop. She sprinkled a sprinkle of meat tenderizer on the food and no more poop eating.

    Storm on the other hand likes wild animal poop, deer and rabbit are her particular favorites. 🙂
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  25. I think there are more tan one reason for this. One of the latest interesting article I read on the subject was one citing ‘search for probiotics’. I think there might be other ‘useful’ things dogs seek in poop. Gross is in the eye of the beholder LOL
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  26. Both beagles were so bad about this…eating each other’s, especially Kobi. Cricket was too, but I actually don’t see her do it anymore. Luke drove us crazy when he was younger….he would poop, then turn around and eat his own faster than you could get there with a poop bag! He doesn’t do it anymore though, so it’s either because we feed different food, or he outgrew it (thank goodness). Our vet always told us not to worry about it, but still…..!
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