Mrs Smith quietly closes the exam room door. Chanel, her perfectly groomed Maltese sits ever so quietly on the table, pink diamond encrusted bow perched upon her stately head. I suspect there is an issue. A private issue. “Dr. Boggier,” she begins, “Chanel has started with a behavior that I find quite embarrassing”. Mrs Smith goes on to tell me how she was horrified to find Chanel had not only defecated in the house, something she occasionally did, but then proceeded to choke it down like it was prime rib! All this in full view of the guests at her monthly dinner party. Mrs Smith was NOT happy. Chanel, on the other hand, had a completely normal physical exam, er, minus the breath issue.
Coprophagy, or stool eating, is a common malady in dogs and occurs for a variety of reasons. Most people assume the pet is deficient in key nutrients in his or her diet and that is why they tend to perform the, uh, ultimate in recycling. Not true. The cause can be a tricky to ascertain.
Doc, you may say, I would like to have friends over again, how do I stop this behavior? If the underlying cause can be identified (not always possible), several treatments may be attempted. For example, if your pet has parasites, you veterinarian can dispense a quality deworming medication to address the issue. Metabolic diseases such as pancreatic deficiencies would require further testing. Anxiety or stress can be managed with a combination of behavior modification and or medication. If your pet just likes the taste? You may need to take some cooking classes. Otherwise, you have a few options ForBid, Dis-Taste, Deter and all examples of products you can put in the food to make the stool taste bad (or worse).
As distressing as this problem is, there is hope. Coprophagy may be an undesirable condition, but rarely does it lead to more than your loss of social status in the neighborhood.