A dog’s stomach shouldn’t be a mobile landfill. Swallowed rocks, bones and dirty underwear will cause repeated vomiting or intestinal blockage. If your dog doesn’t heave his treasure on your carpet his doctor will need to fish it out with an endoscope or take him to surgery. Normal puppies chew and even swallow whatever isn’t nailed down, but an adult dog with an eccentric appetite is a special case.

For some dogs there are physical reasons for pica (eating non-food items).

  • Kidney or liver problems, stomach and intestinal disturbances, diseases that cause an excessive appetite, even disorders of the brain may be responsible.
  • Every canine trash collector needs a medical work-up to find out.

Many of these pets just have too much time on their hands.

  • If she’s confined and can’t run and socialize with other dogs she might chew and swallow junk.
  • A few have true compulsive disorders.

Start by blocking your dog’s access to things she shouldn’t eat and give her healthy alternatives.

  • Food toys can be really compelling if they’re stuffed with sticky, gooey junk food like Cheese Whiz mixed with chopped up hot dogs or whatever.
  • It may also help to change her diet to one with more bulk like Hills prescription r/d or w/d (available from your veterinarian).

If none of the above helps there could be more to your dog’s compulsive consumption.

  • Severe stress or separation anxiety that manifests as pica requires custom tailored behavior modification along with drug therapy.
  • These dogs need specialized treatment.

Poop eating, known as coprophagia by the culturally elite, is the dark secret of many respectable families.

  • As many as 20% of pet dogs engage in this.
  • Beyond latrine breath and social stigma, there may be worms and other intestinal parasites enjoying a population boom at your home. It isn’t pretty.
  • Diet changes and certain medications can cause coprophagia if they stimulate an excessive appetite.
  • Like pica, some dogs indulge because they don’t have healthy after-school activities like exercise and social interaction (sans leashes and fences) with other dogs.

There are several methods of managing this dietary indiscretion.

  • If you interrupt it with a sharp jerk on the leash you won’t be addressing the cause of the behavior. If you scold your doo-doo eating dog he/she associate your voice with bolting stool, which may encourage it, or simply teach him that it’s safer to snack surreptitiously.
  • For-Bid can be mixed with food to impart a nasty flavor when it passes in the stool. Research has shown that this has no measurable effect.
  • Some pet parents believe that their dogs have responded to hot sauce painted on the underside of poop that’s just waiting to be selected by their canine connoisseur. Again, no research supports any value in this.
  • Changing your dog’s diet to a higher digestibility food has done the trick for some. Adding an enzyme supplement or meat tenderizer is pointless.
  • Rubbing a dog’s nose in feces does not work; it may, in fact, promote this odious behavior.
    • Not only that, it’s hard on the soul of the rubber and the rubbee.
    • Even if it worked it would be relationship poison.
  • When frustration reaches its peak, take your scat scavenger for some strenuous exercise.
  • Finally, never accept kisses from strangers.