See it published in this week’s The New Orleans Advocate HERE

Animal Rescue: Help for dogs with the worst habit ever
BY TRACI D. HOWERTON | Special to The Advocate
Jul 5, 2017

Of all the less-than-favorable habits our dogs can have, eating poop is probably the worst. Known officially as coprophagia , the act of eating their own or another’s poop can be happening for a variety of reasons.

If the family dog is a poop eater, don’t despair, as this is actually a pretty common habit, although the reason may vary from one pooch to the next.

Puppies tend to eat their poop out of curiosity. While some may sniff and move on, others, like children, are tempted to put any and everything in their mouths. Puppies usually grow out of the habit.

Studies have shown that female canines are more likely to eat poop than males. In addition, coprophagia is often more common in multidog households.

Why does this happen? If the family pet begins the behavior, consult a veterinarian to rule out medical issues such as parasites, dietary deficiencies, diabetes, Cushing’s disease, thyroid problems or other conditions that may cause an increase in appetite.

Sometimes a behavioral or environmental problem can trigger this bad habit. They include stress or changes in routine, such as isolation or long periods of confinement.

My dog Lucy manifested this behavior as a puppy, and I’ve found nothing to stop it; so I am vigilant about being outside with her when she potties and picking up after her. Other dog owners have had success with vitamin and enzyme supplements and taste aversion products found at area pet stores.

Those with cats should keep the litter box clean and out of the dog’s reach.

Offering a treat or reward right after the dog potties may encourage him to return indoors for the treat. While there is no tried and true method guaranteed to break this habit, a combination of strategies may help.


JULY: During Meownsoon Season at the Louisiana SPCA, all cats and kittens are available for $20 all month long. Visit to see the feline friends looking for homes.

SATURDAY: From noon to 4 p.m., Animal Rescue New Orleans holds an adoption event at Petco, 3520 Veterans Blvd., Metairie. Adoptable dogs will be on site, along with information on volunteering. For more info:

SATURDAY: Overnight Critter Cinema, at the Louisiana SPCA, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. Sunday. Great fun for animal-loving, pizza-eating, movie-watching kids. For kids ages 5-10, bring a sleeping bag, pillow, toothbrush and PJs. $75 per child. Pre-registration is required; call (504) 368-5191, ext. 207 or email For information, visit

SUNDAY: Help the Louisiana SPCA volunteers raise money for animals with special needs at the Rock, Ride and Rescue fundraiser at Rock N Bowl from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. This fun event benefits multiple nonprofits in our community, including the SPCA. The fund is used to provide care to adoptable animals with special needs. Presale tickets are $10 and can be purchased at

LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, send a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact info to In Jefferson Parish, send to and In St. Bernard Parish send to

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact us at, or visit