Is anyone aware of any research on the question of whether or not there is a connection between palatants and coprophagia?
No, never heard anything about it. I can tell you though, that I have had a dog or two over the years that was a feces eater (coprophagia)
The only thing I found that worked, was to follow them around with a pooper scooper when you think they are due for a bowel movement, scoop and discard immediately, out of sight out of mind. After awhile they stop turning around to look for it. In my experience, it doesn’t matter what you feed them. Sometimes puppies will out grow this nasty habit as they mature. It is what it is. You cannot let these dogs alone with their feces.
PS: Do not free feed, feed at the same time, twice a day and you will be able to predict when the dog will have a BM.
Have you checked the search engine here? https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/forums/search/coprophagia/
Just a theory. Do you happen to know of any cases where the dog was eating homemade food without any supplements containing flavorings and still coprophagic? Those palatants are powerful things.
Has the vet ruled out medical issues? Good article here : http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/coprophagia-eating-feces (excerpt below)
Medical Problems to Rule Out
Starvation, Malnutrition or Malabsorption Disorders
If your dog isn’t getting sufficient food or isn’t able to digest the nutrition in his food, he may resort to coprophagia as a way to supplement his diet. Before doing anything else, it’s important to have your dog thoroughly examined by a veterinarian to rule out medical problems that could cause coprophagia.
I am the vet. It’s my dog. Stunningly healthy, parasite free 1 year old mini dachshund. Normal blood work. Eating Solid Gold Barking at the Moon.
Thanks for your replies, by the way!
Hopefully, someone else will have something more to add.
Best of luck.
I’ve read research discussing illnesses associated with palatants (specifically MSG and free glutamic acid) but I’ve never heard of them associated with copraphagia. Additionally, several of the supplements given for copraphagia have MSG or a form of free glutamic acid in them. Although they don’t work for all dogs, they do seem to work for some. I’m not sure what other palatants are used in pet foods?
Although I never had copraphagia, 🙂 I did have pica for about 15 or so years. I didn’t have digestive issues of any kind but turns out I had villous atrophy from a caseine sensitivity (I react to both cow and goat dairy products, raw or pasteurized, organic makes no difference either). My blood work was normal however my iron was on the very low side of normal. I also developed slight hypothyroid symptoms but test showed no issues. Anyhoo, I was finally diagnosed at age 39 by a wonderful M.D. who is also a Certified Clinical Nutritionist. She put me on an elimination diet. The only ingredients that jump out at me in Barking at the Moon would be the lectin proteins in the pea protein and the potato. I’ve not seen either of those lectin foods associated with villous atrophy but so much about lectins is still not yet known…?? Treats might be a potential source?
I currently feed commercial raw but used to feed home prepared (my time is limited now). Three of my dogs used to make a game out of eating bunny poo. That completely stopped when I started giving digestive enzymes. I never felt they were necessary in raw fed dogs but those three showed me differently. An adult foster dog came in eating poo. She was also a little over 20 pounds overweight. We got the weight off but no matter what we’ve tried she is a poop eater. She’s been an ideal weight (12 pounds) for several years now (we adopted her) but she still to this day has a snack given the opportunity. She won’t eat all poo though, so I’m assuming my senior dogs are not thoroughly digesting the proteins despite the added enzymes.
I don’t know if any of this is relevant to your pup but thought I’d put it out there.
Hi Dr. Carol,
Dr Hart at UC Davis did an extensive survey on the topic which you can find summarized here:
http://drsophiayin dot com/blog/entry/coprophagia-the-scoop-on-poop-eating-in-dogs
Since you are a vet maybe you can get the full paper and see if there is more detail in it than is in the summary.
Interesting theory on the palatibilty enhancers, Dr Carol.
I don’t think this is the one that Aimee referenced, but here is a survey/study that could give insight.
At least 50% of my dogs diet is homemade raw, with limited (35%) kibble, but I have had no experience with coprophagia so couldn’t help there.
I found in the the following article in Can Vet, that seems to be relative to what you have asked.
“The dog should be fed a consistent, good quality
diet, high in fat and protein and low in carbohydrate,
with no treats or scraps. Diets high in carbohydrate
tend to enhance the drive to eat stool. The dry food
component of the diet should be reduced and replaced
with a high protein food. Although dry food is generally
a good diet, it has been shown clinically that the
above diet change will often lessen the drive to eat
stool. The addition of vegetable oil (increased slowly
over 7 days, to 15 mL/4.5 kg of body weight/day) is
also helpful. Sufficient food should be given twice
daily, on a regular schedule. Adding the fat and feeding
twice a day helps suppress the appetite for a longer
period, reducing this particular stimulus for stool
eating. Often, a diet change, maintained for 4-8 weeks,
may be all that is required to stop the behavior, in conjunction
with the decreasing strength of the drive as
the animal ages.”
Interesting article, Losul. Would you say that 15mL/4.5 kg is about one tablespoon for every 10 poundsish? I may give it a try. Thank you.
Hi C4C. I didn’t try too calculate it out until you said something, but shewww yes, it appears to amount to that much by my calculation, and seems WAY too much fat to add to a diet that would already have fat in it. hmmm. I wouldn’t ever advise adding that much fat in the diet!!
I agree! I definitely will not put that much in!! Don’t worry 😀 Not sure if I will try it at all. But, like many others, sometimes way too eager to jump on the band wagon if I hear about a miracle cure for that nasty habit that my dogs have. I try to be diligent about scooping, but not everyone in my family is.
I’m glad you calculated it out and caught that! The chief author of that article, Dr Donal McKeown seems to be quite well qualified. He would be fairly old now, but If he is still living and I can find an EM address, I’ll write and ask him to clarify some of those statements in the article.
Thanks to all of you for your responses. Here is what I am thinking:
I just finished reading an excellent book, called “The Dorito Effect”. Very briefly. It’s about the huge number of flavorings and palatants added to processed foods. There is a description of several studies done with farm animals, and a brief discussion of pet foods.
It started me thinking about why my very healthy dog has turned into a poop-eating fiend.
I am feeding a food with no preservatives, additives, or flavorings. Then I had an epiphany. It all started around the time I bought a bag of pepperoni for training treats. I know, I know – I am spending good money on premium dog food and treating them with crap.
Anyway……. I have eliminated everything but their regular food (Solid Gold Barking at the Moon), and I will let you all know if that makes a difference!
If this pans out, I will have a lot of very happy clients!
That was supposed to be PUPPERONI. Thank you, autocorrect.
Haha! Love it! Let us know how it works. Although I don’t think I could ever totally resist my dogs’ begging puppy eyes when I’m eating something with those naughty flavoring enhancements. Good luck to you!
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