Minnesota man discovers cure for coprophagia
MINNEAPOLIS – Some dogs can’t resist a tasty morsel of feces. These dogs will eat their own excrement or that of another dog. Some prefer horse feces, others cat feces. And a nice chunk of frozen turd is quite popular in the winter months in certain regions. But, why do dogs do this? More importantly, how do you stop it?
In the past it was believed that feces eating, also known as coprophagia, was caused by either poor diet or poor health. However, this theory is not supported by current research. “Behavioral research has discounted the idea that it is a dietary deficiency or a pancreatic enzyme deficiency,” says Dr. Jo Ann Eurell, a veterinarian and animal behavior specialist retired from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. “Dogs are historically scavengers, and this is believed to be a scavenger behavior.”
This behavior is normal for a mother dog with pups. Newborn pups must learn to urinate and defecate. And who better to instruct them than their mother, so she teaches the pups by licking their bottoms. The pups respond to this “tickle” by urinating and defecating. This motherly gesture is not to be confused with “tossing the salad”, an act typically performed by inmates while inside the confines of a prison cell or cell block shower facility. But in the canine world, after her pups drop their turdage, the mother then consumes the pup’s excrement. This serves three protective purposes: 1) it keeps the den area clean, 2) it removes any smell that could attract a predator, and 3) it prevents a homeowner from stepping in fresh doggie poo while mowing the backyard. Some pups learn this behavior from their mothers and will stimulate themselves and consume their own feces. However, most pups stop by the time they are weaned. [source]
It is more difficult to understand why adult dogs eat feces. Some dogs will learn this behavior from other dogs. In some cases, eating feces may be an attention-seeking behavior. For some dogs it is possibly due to anxiety or boredom. Most often the motivation for eating feces is just not known.
Owners find this habit in their pet disgusting — particularly when the consumed feces are thrown up all over the new carpet. In addition to being socially unacceptable, eating feces exposes the dog to parasites and diseases. So, what is a dog owner to do?
A Minnesota man believes he has the answer. “Tabasco sauce,” the man says with a big grin on his face. The man, who prefers to remain nameless until he perfects his coprophagia solution, was making a pot of chili to enjoy during the Super Bowl last year when he spilled a bit of it on the floor, and his dog, Buck, came over and lapped it up. According to the man, “Buck loved it (chili), so I poured a ladle of it over his dog food. I let him outside an hour or so later so he could poop, and when he picked up a turd in his mouth, it appeared to be too spicy for him to handle. He dropped it on the spot.” Now, the man has started feeding his dog chili covered food at every meal, which is twice a day. He also plans to create chili-flavored dog biscuits. “I just need to work out a few kinks,” says the man. “First off, Buck has been taking a dump about every 30 minutes since starting the chili-covered dog food diet. Plus, his anal glands appear to be severely inflamed, so I have to ice ’em down every couple hours.” But there is a silver lining to this story. “Buck no longer sits in the middle of the living room licking his butt when my friends come over to visit. I guess it burns his tongue.”
Buck’s Chili Chow and Buck’s Chili Biscuits will likely be carried by Walmart in order to give the new dog food line mass exposure. Plus, Walmart is so greedy, it will sell anything – regardless of any safety issues – as long as the company makes a profit. So, watch for this fine line of dog food at an evil retailer near you!
Berkley is the Senior Health Correspondent for Wag the Dog. He prefers eating green grass rather than brown poop, and he’s written his own book, “Greener Pastures: A Dog’s Guide to Organic Eating”. The book is available at Boarder’s Books & Leashes (not to be confused with Border’s Bookstore).