Coprophagia, or stool eating, is not uncommon among beagles. And while it presents no serious health risks to your dog, most owners find the behavior less than appealing. Fortunately, there are some simple solutions.
First, it’s helpful to understand why your beagle eats his own feces, or that of other dogs, in the first place. Most animal behaviorists point to instinct—wild canines eat the feces of other animals, especially herbivores, and bitches will eat the feces of puppies to keep a den clean.
Some puppies might eat their stools out of curiosity or boredom. And, although coprophagy is usually a behavioral problem, there are some disease processes that can exacerbate the tendency. They include pancreatic enzyme deficiencies and diseases and medications that cause an increased appetite. Your pet should be examined by your veterinarian for any underlying medical problems.
Changing the unpleasant behavior
Here are three approaches beagle owners have used successfully to stop coprophagy behavior:
- Changing meal frequency to 3 or 4 times a day can result in your dog feeling fuller longer. This may help if your beagle’s coprophagia is a result of feeling hungry.
- High-fiber diets that make your beagle feel full can also curb coprophagia. Metamucil and canned pumpkin are commonly suggested for adding fiber, but your veterinarian can make the best recommendation.
- Keep your beagle on a leash when he is ready to defecate. After he does his business, bag it immediately, then reward your dog with a snack or praise.
What should your next step be? A consultation with your vet may be the best way to plan a coprophagia-ending strategy. He or she may recommend products that can be added to your beagle’s food to discourage copraphagia — and hasten a return to beagle kisses that won’t make you turn away.