I haven’t given a health update on the dogs recently, mostly because there hasn’t been much standing out for me these days. They are all in fairly decent shape, but Hannah’s little coprophagia episode earlier today reminded me that there’s room for improvement.

Dogs have many habits that people think are “normal.” But there’s a world of difference between what is “normal” and what “common.” Stool eating is very, very common in dogs, but I do not believe it is normal. Truly healthy dogs do not eat their own stool, or the stool of others. Hannah ate the kibble poo within 30 minutes of eating her breakfast. To me, that is not normal. Now some people would argue that the reason she ate this disgusting excrement is because my dad’s dog has less-than-ideal digestion and the stool may have contained some not fully digested kibble. And of course, Hannah loves kibble. But I think that’s making excuses. Neither Ross nor Mira eat Magic’s stool, so why Hannah? As far as I’m concerned, it’s due to an imbalance in her life force that needs to be addressed. I do not accept this sort of things as “normal,” and I will do what I can to address the root cause of it.

This article outlines some of the proposed reasons dogs eat their (or others’) stool, including:

– Attention-seeking behavior: even if they are punished for it, negative attention is still attention
– Learned behaviour from watching their owners pick up after them (to me this is an incredibly long stretch of the imagination!)
– Learned behaviour from seeing other dogs doing the same
– Dominance – submissive related behaviour
– Some yet to be identified reinforcement the dog receives for doing this
– The result of dogs only being fed once a day and thus having to supplement their meal schedule
– Some kind of medical problem, like pancreatitis

I have dealt with this issue, in both adult dogs and in puppies, many times now and am a firm believer that the last theory is the most sound. However I think it goes beyond an obvious digestive disorder (such as pancreatitis) and can be an indication of a much deeper disorder or imbalance. Indeed, many of the first items on this list can be linked to a mental disorder, and that is what I am talking about. The deepest level of health imbalance is mental, and I think eating feces is symptomatic of deep chronic disease.

When I first adopted Ross, he was a horrible stool eater. He was also extremely unhealthy, both physically and mentally. Many people who do rescue note that rescue dogs often eat stool. They typically explain this – and I used support this idea – as a “bad habit” that the dog picked up due to (insert some form of tragic neglect). As a result, if you simply prevented the dog from doing so for long enough, most would stop. I have seen this work, and it worked for Ross.

But I’d like to offer an explanation as to why this works: Instead of it ‘breaking’ the bad habit, perhaps after 2-3 months (or longer) in a stable environment with decent food and low stress, the dogs become healthier, and as a result, stop eating stool.

Over the first year I had him, Ross’s health improved tremendously; at the same time, this habit disappeared. I observed the same in Hannah. She used to eat the stool of other dogs any chance she got, and she also used to roll in it. It was beyond disgusting and I spent every walk trying to stop her from doing both. This all stopped literally overnight when she was given a particular homeopathic remedy that addressed her overall constitutional health.

Here’s another example. I think every puppy I’ve ever had has eaten its own stool, or that of other dogs. This is such a common thing that I really thought it was normal. At least I did, until I brought home Finn and his sister last fall. These puppies were out of two raw fed, minimally vaccinated parents and had been weaned to raw and yet to be vaccinated at the age I took them in. They were by far the healthiest, most vital puppies I have ever met. The difference between them, and a conventional puppy I had living with me a few weeks before, was so dramatic that even my non-dog, non-holistic oriented friends commented on it of their own accord.

Neither of these two puppies ate their own stool. And none of their other siblings did either.

If eating stool is just a bad habit, then why would a dog stop doing it overnight, especially within 24 hours of being given a carefully selected constitutional homeopathic remedy. To me it is clear that this is a health related behaviour, and not simply a learned trait. At least not in most dogs.

So now I have to work up Hannah’s case and see if anything becomes obvious as to what remedy she may be needing. Hannah has been very stable in most ways and there has been little pushing me to treat her homeopathically. In fact I don’t remember the last time I gave her a dose of anything – it’s been months. But the return of this habit means she needs a constitutional “tune up.” As disgusting as this habit is, at least it is pushing me to take a fresh look at Hannah’s health.