Dog Eats Other Dog’s Stools

by Yvonne

My flat-coated retriever has always tended to eat dog feces when out on a walk. We have never been able to stop this behavior even using treats as rewards. Now that we live in Greece, where locals put poison down to kill cats and stray dogs, we would really like some advice.

She is nearly ten years old and I am reluctant to put a muzzle on her as this would probably distress her, so any alternatives would be preferred.

Vet Suggestion on Dogs that Eat Feces

Hello Yvonne,

Stopping a dog from eating feces is difficult since it is a normal canine behavior that has become unacceptable, and dangerous in your circumstances, only after dogs began to live with people.

The cornerstone of treatment is eliminating access to feces at all times. If you have a yard, clean itup regularly, and if the dog eats from a cat litter box, block his access to it. Dietary changes can also help when a dog eats his own feces or those of other pets in the house. Different foods will alter the smell and composition of feces, which can make them less attractive.

If dietary changes and limiting access to feces doesn’t do the trick, you can try a couple of the many available products that help make feces less palatable such as NutraVet Nasty Habit. Some work by imparting a foul taste to the feces, others contain enzymes that help break down components of stool that dogs find appealing. If you find a brand that works for your dog, continue with it for several weeks to reinforce the lesson and plan on having to repeat the treatment from time to time since dogs will often go back to their old ways after treatment has stopped.

Stopping dogs from eating stool while out on walks is even more difficult. First of all, never let your dog wander off leash so you can always be with him to praise good behavior and correct bad. A head collar will give you better control of his behavior. When he drops his head toward feces, jerk the leash (not too hard) and say no in a firm tone of voice. When he focuses on you, praise him and hand him a small treat. With time and consistency, he should start looking to you for a treat when he notices a pile of feces.

Best of luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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