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The pooper scooper on poop-eating pups

September 16, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Eating breakfast? You may want to save this post for a little later in your day. Why? Because today we are talking poop. Actually, dogs eating poop to be more precise.

Recently, Minnesota Sheltie Rescue shared a blog post by Dr. Sophia Yin, titled, Coprophagia: The Scoop on Poop Eating in Dogs. I am not embarrassed to say that it caught my attention right away. After all, with two poop-eaters right here at Casa del Mel, it’s pretty hard not to be curious about it.

In her post, Dr. Yin shares information from “a study presented at the annual ACVB/AVSAB Behavior Symposium in San Diego” just last month. I thought the information she shared was quite fascinating. (Okay. Maybe not fascinating, but certainly interesting.) I would encourage you to read the full post yourself. It’s a quick read, but chock full of information.

Among the information she shared was:

  • Up to 16% of dog owners have dogs who eat poop
  • Poop-eaters are more likely to be found in dual dog households (24%) and multiple dog households (30% more likely with 3 dogs in the home)
  • Only 15% of dogs in the study ate their own poop, 85% ate other dogs’ poop
  • Neutered males were more likely to eat poop than intact males
  • 38% of border collies had a history of eating poop and 40% of shelties did as well
  • Poop-eating could not be traced to issues with their diet.
  • 52% of the stool eaters would steal food off a table
  • All the “easy” solutions to stop poop-eating don’t work (e.g., products claiming to stop poop-eating, putting a chili pepper or pineapple in the food, yelling, using a shock collar, etc.)
  • Immediately picking up after your dog is the one thing that does work

Interesting isn’t it?

I have to admit that some of the information was spot on for us:

  • 3 dog household = increased likelihood of having poop-eaters
  • Neutered males more likely to eat poop
  • Shelties more likely to eat poop
  • Picking up the poop immediately helps (a lot)

Bu some to the information was not:

  • The poop-eaters in our household are not the food-grabbers of the family
  • One of the poop eaters is a neutered male, but one is a spayed female (listed in the study as least likely to eat poop)
  • (I am embarrassed to admit this, but…) one of our poop-eaters prefers to eat it right away. The fresher the better. (I know. It grosses me out terribly. Trust me. It happens a lot less now.)

I have a sneaking suspicion I know why some of my dogs don’t fit the norm, but it would take too long to explain. So instead I’ll ask you – do you have poop-eaters in your household? How accurate were the study results for you?

Daisy prefers her poop frozen. We call them Poopsicles.
In this picture she is munching on one of her favorite treats. I didn’t realize until after I took the picture. I never thought I would be sharing this one with all of you.

  1. To Shea
    September 16, 2012 at 11:56 PM

    Hi Mel…Actually out girl Penny never ate her poops BUT…WORSE, she used to enjoy rolling onher back on other dogs poops…YUCK!!!! and WHAT A MESS TO CLEAN UP TOO!
    It took about a year to to get Penny to stop rolling in it.
    Of course No Car ride back home…too smelly…had to walk back.
    It just took time and Love and a strong stomach…LOL

    • Mel
      September 17, 2012 at 7:01 AM

      Oh no! Penny preferred Eu du Poop as her cologne? Now I am wondering if having a poop-eater is better. Yikes!
      Laughed at the walk home. Yes. I don’t think a car ride home would be fun at all for the humans. Oh my!

  2. September 17, 2012 at 5:01 AM

    Haven’t had my dog eating other dog poop but, where we walk, there are also horses and horse manure, apparently, is simply too good to be true! Yuk.

    • Mel
      September 17, 2012 at 6:58 AM

      Yes. I had a dog who likes horse manure. Gross huh?

    • September 17, 2012 at 9:26 AM

      We have wild rabbits living under our shed so my dogs love to eat the rabbit poop.

      • Mel
        September 17, 2012 at 9:41 PM

        Oh yes. My first Sheltie LOVED rabbit poop. I have not seen the same thing here, but that’s not to say they aren’t sneaking to do it. I suspect the rabbits have heard of the 3 rabbit murders that occurred in our yard and have wisely chosen to stay away. At least I hope so.

  3. September 17, 2012 at 7:02 AM

    I have a poop eater! Plunger is my poop eater and I have to say this was right on for him! He is a neutered male, lives in a multi-dog household, likes it fresh-but has been known to eat a frozen poop, and is totally known for stealing food. Everything we have tried has never worked, it’s more a habit now, and picking it up asap is the only thing I can do, which of course doesn’t always happen!

  4. September 17, 2012 at 8:40 AM

    Ugh, yes, this is a topic all too familiar in our household. And oddly, it seems we go against most of the grain. Of the two dogs I’ve had in my adulthood – both have had their fascination with poop. We’ve always been a single dog home. Beau started when he got quite old and only during the winter (we called them “poop-sicles”, too!) Bella has always been one but we attribute it to her fear of starvation given her puppyhood. Both dogs would rather die a slow, lingering death than steal food off the table and they ONLY eat their own. (Ick – even just talking about this makes me want to hurl.)

    Like you, the only thing that works is not letting it be there for them to eat. Of course, that’s the responsible, environmentally appropriate thing to do anyway but sometimes it can test your commitment. 😉

  5. September 17, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    You are not alone! Our boy retriever likes his own – if he is ever given the chance (neutered male). Of course both our boy and girl are obsessed with Kitty Rocha. Yuck!!!

  6. September 17, 2012 at 9:07 AM

    Oddly enough when we still had our geriatric boy Rusty, both my Shepherds loved his poop. Now that he is gone. I have only caught them with the poopsickle 😦 Something about it being frozen. yuk! The only for sure cure is immediate clean up, which can be a challenge to find in the winter when it is dark at 4pm.

    • Mel
      September 17, 2012 at 9:42 PM

      Interesting that now that he is gone they are less interested Carole. I wonder what mad his so special?

  7. September 17, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    Yes, my neutered Aussie and/or Border Collie mix Pierson loves to eat my other dog Maya’s poop. Much of this research was right on. The one thing that wasn’t was the same as one you mentioned… he does not steal food. And the thing which has worked best is keeping Maya’s poop picked up. I have learned Maya’s poop schedule and can now get her to poop on command. Yep, Maya know knows the following commands – sit, stay, down, roll over, play dead, shake, and poop.

    • September 17, 2012 at 9:28 AM

      mistype.. Maya now knows…

  8. September 17, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    Forget to add that of course all my dogs are spayed/neutered and do not steal food. Well Lacy is on Prednisone right now and would eat anything and I have caught her counter surfing, totally out of character.

  9. cafall
    September 17, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    We have a poop eater, who shall remain nameless… He only started when we switched from the Pet Tab brand vitamin to the GNC vitamins. When we switched back he pretty much stopped it except for the occasional nibble.


    • Mel
      September 17, 2012 at 9:38 PM

      Protecting the identity of the offender eh? 🙂 I’ll have to check out the Pet Tab brand vitamins.

  10. September 17, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    Sampson a neutered male does not eat the poops. I did have him bring a frozen one in the house once, but I’ve not noticed it since. Sampson is not a food stealer.

    Delilah a spayed female eats poop. When you say the fresher the better I know exactly what you mean. I once saw her behind Sampson waiting for him to finish. -( She is also a food stealer.

    It is a two dog house, with the spayed female being the food stealer/poop eater. I’d be curious to know the backgrounds of the dogs.

    Sampson has always had his nutritional needs taken care of by a human. We have had him since 8 weeks old. Delilah came to us considerably older with no information regarding her background. I wonder how much of her fending for herself comes into play?

    • September 17, 2012 at 10:37 AM

      Jodi, Delilah reminds me of when my dog Pierson was waiting for Maya to finish pooping so he could eat it. I tried to explain to him that Maya is not a Pez candy dispenser! Pierson was a stray before I got him so I wonder if there is a connection in his and Deliliah’s behavior. Dr. Yin should include that factor in her research.

      • Mel
        September 17, 2012 at 9:33 PM

        LOL! I laughed so loud when I read your “pex dispenser” comment. OMG. That is such an accurate description!

    • Mel
      September 17, 2012 at 9:37 PM

      How interesting Jodi. I wonder if it is a puppyhood-rooted issue? Daisy never ate poop until Jasper came along. He used to eat his sisters and when she was adopted, he started eating Daisy’s. I have long suspected it had to do with the fact that he and his sister sat in a glass cage with little to do but eat and play with poop (they both reaked of it so bad when I first brought them home to foster them). From what I learned from the lady who got them out of the pet store, their cage was filled with poop. Just sad and gross.

      Maybe Delilah had a similar background? O she learned to scavenge on her own and that included poop. The study seemed to indicate that as scavengers it wouldn’t be all that surprising that dogs would eat poop to survive. It makes me wonder if this is common amongst wild canines.

      • September 18, 2012 at 12:01 PM

        Pez dispenser is an accurate description, I refer to it as Dairy Queen soft serve machine but I was trying to be discrete. She also has no shame in going in the garbage and I’ve oftened wondered if she had to fend for herself at one point. We do know she came from the Lake Charles, LA area shortly after Hurricane Rita. 😦

  11. peggyspetplace
    September 17, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    I will contribute a comment at the risk of embarrassing myself and my dogs. Kelly, spayed female and not a food stealer, enjoys this unappealing habit, and prefers hers (excuse me…) “fresh from the oven.” Brooks joined the family and–lucky us!–he practices this habit too. Yes, the only solution is picking it up right away.

    • Mel
      September 17, 2012 at 9:32 PM

      I am so relieved to hear that I am not the only one with a dog who likes it “fresh from the oven” Peggy. The first time he did it I just about puked. I know the people at the dog park certainly gagged. It’s much better now. If I catch him heading over to Daisy (who apparently has the poop du jour), I call him off and he listens. Then I pick it up as fast as I can. Daisy usually likes the frozen poop, bt for some reason she has taken to the fresh approach when it comes to Lady’s poops. Just gross.

  12. September 17, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    We have a poopsicle eater too!

    • Mel
      September 17, 2012 at 9:32 PM

      Glad to know I am not the only one!

  13. September 18, 2012 at 12:37 AM

    Very interesting. However, I would not agree, that at least in some of the cases, this is not related to nutrition.

    For example, according to my integrative dog nutrition course, dogs often eat feces seeking to mend their vitamin B deficiencies. They would typically prefer feces of herbivores, but when such is not available, they will resort to eating dog feces also)

    • September 18, 2012 at 12:51 PM

      So according to Jana’s suggestion, feeding your dog rabbit droppings or guinea pig pellets might stop the poop eating?

  14. September 18, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    The only poop eater I’ve had was Christie. She was a spayed female in a two dog household and was a food thief.

    But she was also a stressed dog. I wonder if the poop eating was a sign of that in her case.

  15. September 18, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    Amazingly, Shiva does not eat poop. It’s one of her finer qualities. Not even cat poop, which I am told is like ambrosia for dogs. We can give her access to the area with the litter box and she doesn’t even give it the briefest of sniffs. It surprises me because she eats pretty much everything else.

    However, she doesn’t have access to a lot of poop on a regular basis. The litter box is downstairs behind a puppy gate and she never poops in the backyard just while we’re out on walks so that temptation is gone as well.

    I don’t know how I would have handled poop-eating. The breath alone would have made me re-consider this whole dog-ownership thing! 😛 I’d love to hear how you have worked on this with your crew.

  16. September 18, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    I have 2 dogs that are poop eaters. 1 female spayed Scottie, 1 male neutered Cairn. Both eat other dogs not their own and they live in a multi-dog household.

  17. September 21, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    While I’ve never had a dog poop eater, Jersey has been known to enjoy “treats” from the kitty litter box and rabbit poop. Yummy!!!!!

  18. October 7, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    When I was given “Petey” a registered Standard Yorkie I wasn’t told he liked to snack…… at first I noticed the kitty litter box remained empty, strange, kitty was pretty regular! Then I noticed kitty was being pretty nasty to Petey- he was getting into her personal space! I put 2 and 2 together, I raised the litter box so high he couldn’t get into it. Solved that problem. Then he started coming into the house with “Poop” on his breath ! so I made his yard a 1/4 of the size and regularly went on patrol, picking up his and our other dogs poop, well I guess I missed a couple, and they gave Petey a pretty good stomach ache! I woke up to two piles of the worst diarrhea all over my brand new living room carpet ! the worst of it was I felt a few wiggles of something when I picked it up! grooose!! He had a real bad case of worms! So if your dog is eating poop, don’t forget to De-worm them!!, and not the kind you get of a grocery store, go to your Vet and get the proper pills cause the other cheap ones Don’t Work!!
    Good Luck and keep up the picking up poop right away!

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