My dog is eating grass!

5th May 2015
Beryl Shuttleworth
3 Responses

Dogs are sometimes really disgusting. The can quite happily eat all sorts of things that they shouldn’t – soil, stones, grass, wood, even (yuck) poop.

When they tuck into soil or stones, it is called Pica. The reasons are many. It can be a deficiency of some kind of nutrient that they are instinctively trying to correct. It could also be related to mental problems such as anxiety or boredom. Pica might also be an indication of a parasite infestation. Most importantly, it is a known symptom of Immune Modulated Haemolytic Anaemia (IMHA).

When you notice this starting to happen, it is probably best to take your dog to the vet. Get her tested for IMHA (a simple test for anaemia) and do a worm count. If these two things are ruled out, your vet is likely to suggest a multivitamin/mineral supplement, and/or a change in food.

If the problem continues, it is likely to be some kind of psychological problem. And, like all psychological problems, it probably won’t be easy to fix. We do have a supplement called Serenity Formula which acts as a calmer for animals. This might help to a certain extent. Training and a change in lifestyle might also be needed – more exercise, more attention, etc.

Eating poop, on the other hand, is called Coprophagia. Although it is pretty revolting, it is often quite a normal behaviour in dogs. They have possibly evolved to do this in order to survive. Another theory is that, with many modern commercial diets, the ration of carbohydrates to protein is far too high for the canine digestive system. Their digestive enzymes are not good at dealing with this kind of diet. Eating faeces would ‘double up’ on digestive enzymes, thus helping digestion of the extra carbohydrates.

Again, coprophagia might indicate some kind of nutrient deficiency or parasitic infestation. It could also indicate a problem with the pancreas. These issues will need veterinary attention.

So, again, a visit to the vet is probably a wise move. Thereafter, it also becomes a training issue. Here are a few ideas:

  • Feed the best diet you can
  • Clean up faeces as soon as you can
  • Teach you dog the ‘leave it’ cue
  • Use taste deterrants such as Tabasco or black pepper on the faeces

3 Responses

  1. Hi there,
    My dogs (3 Rotties) are all soil, stick and grass eaters and one does the poop thing too! I turn myself inside out by trying to feed them the best, they are on a RAW diet with chicken and beef offal. They don’t get ANY carbs. What should I do please?

    1. Hi Sonja. If I were you, I’d go through the steps I’ve outlined here. It sounds as if you’re feeding them really well. If deworming etc doesn’t help, it is probably behavioural, they are probably copying each other and it is probably a habit by now. All of these things are not good news, but a good animal behaviourist should be able to help you. Check out our Facebook page – there is a discussion on this happening right now….

  2. I noticed poop eating in one of my dogs, a rescue dog from Gordon’s Bay kennels. She is also an escaper; 2 m hgh fence no problem to jump over, but she also comes back….so far at least

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