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Date:   11 December, 2009  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pig & rabbits.

Toa Payoh Vets Clinical Research
Making veterinary surgery alive
to a veterinary student studying in Australia
using real case studies and pictures

Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
First written: Mar 4, 2008

Dr Sing Kong Yuen

Coprophagia (eating stools) is an exasperating complaint from new puppy owners in Singapore and in other countries.  Such puppies have well cared for and given premium puppy food. Yet they eat stools. This is not common amongst 90% of the puppies. There was one case that drank her own urine.

There are so many advices to stop puppies eating stools. In Singapore, most owners are busy working and therefore has no time to stop this anti-social habit. Once the dog grows up, it seems very difficult to stop him eating stools whenever the owner is not around.

The best method is positive reinforcement training using food treats, praises and play with the new puppy whenever he starts eating stools. A regular feeding schedule, taking away the feed after 15 minutes for most puppies other than those finicky small breeds and no distraction within 30 minutes of eating will ensure that the puppy passes stools in most cases.

Some puppies outgrow this bad habit. A few continues stool eating to adulthood. The best solution is to remove the stools immediately and using positive training methods mentioned below to stop the habit when the puppy is still receptive to training at 2-4 months of age.


----- Original Message ----
Sent: Sunday, 2 March 2008 4:18:07
Subject: Photo of Yorkshire Terrier

Dear Dr Sing,

As requested, a copy of my girl's photo. By the way, she vomited out the deworm tablets on our way back home.

Problem: Had the habit of eating own stools.

Thanks for thinking of a solutions to solve the above problem.

XX (^_^)

I have not received your e-mail regarding the time table of what your puppy does every day. It is important that you spend time training your puppy not to eat his own stools now. You still need to deworm him as the stools he eats may contain worm eggs.

There are a few ways, not always successful in stopping the puppy eating its own stools. Put pepper, chilli powder in his stools, shoot water spray onto his face or drop of can of pebbles/coins to make a loud noise when he starts eating stools. Buy the anti-stool eating powder from the pet shop. Feed slices of pineapple. Put him inside a crate where the floor grate has holes so that his poo falls through. Muzzle puppy. So many suggestions from various pet lovers and the internet. 

This is a most common problem of many puppy lovers all over the world. The best way is to train him when he is young, not to eat stools or just remove the stools immediately. Below is my suggestion:

1. Feed at fixed hours inside the crate/confined area.

2. Remove feed within 15 minutes (except for finicky puppies like Chihuahuas, Yorkies).

3. Confine. Do not play with the puppy for first 30 minutes. Monitor him.

4. Once he poops, remove stools.

5. Give food treat, praise a lot before he eats the stools.

6. Reward him by playing with him.

You need to start training him not to eat stools now. When he grows older, it is very difficult to do it as he rebels. Do let me know how long you take to be successful.

Finicky puppies like the Yorkshire Terriers, Chihuahuas and mini-Malteses --- feeding may need to be given more than 3X per day. Ensure they really eat their amount.

Many don't eat much because they know that their owner will lavish attention to them when they don't eat. They get more variety of food in this way!

Any delay in training the new puppy while he is still young may result in a grown up dog eating his own stools whenever the owner is not around. Also, some eat stools of the other dog and cats too.

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