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Ask A Vet: Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

Why dogs eat poop

Photo via mslavick on Flickr.com

Welcome to our weekly 'Ask a Vet from the SF SPCA' feature on 7x7.com. They've enlisted their Co-President, Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, to answer your questions every week. Got a question for Dr. Scarlett? Ask away in the comments!

Q: Why do dogs eat poop? Is it true dogs eat poop because they have a vitamin deficiency?

A: Only if there is such a thing as Vitamin P. For some animals, like all rodent species, coprophagia (eating poop) is normal. However, dogs don’t NEED anything in poop.  So why do they eat it?  Usually we don’t know what drives dogs to eat their poop.  If the gastrointestinal tract is working well, there shouldn’t be much nutritional value left in the feces.  There are some medical conditions such as pancreatic disorders that result in fat and calories left in the feces and there are often strong clinical signs like ravenous appetite, weight loss and diarrhea that make us suspicious of disease.  Products such as Forbid and Coproban are worth trying to curb the copro, but I haven’t seen resounding success.  A diet change or feeding vegetables such as broccoli may help some dogs. Ultimately a combination of training and avoidance (picking up their feces quickly) is more likely to prevent the poop eating. 

While we can’t answer all of the questions here, please feel free to ask us during our Friday Twitter Ask the Vet Chat. Follow us at @SFPSCA. If your animal’s problem is of an immediate nature, please call your vet or you can reach the SF SPCA at 415-554-3030 to make an appointment.