As you may have gleaned by now, I’m a dog person. By this I mean that my life would be incomplete without dogs in it – preferably my own, although access to friends’ dogs for a ‘puppy-fix’ worked in dog-free years. I pat dogs in parks (after asking permission), talk to dogs in passing (crazy dog-person impersonation my speciality), and our dogs currently fill up every nook and cranny of our lives.
Many years ago we had a pair of labrador retrievers and a very cute little mixed-breed hound.
At the time we were renting a cottage on a working farm, and these pups were lethal around the cows – or, more specifically, the cow pats. If they saw / smelled any and could make a break for it, they were in there, mouth first, then shoulders. Likewise, bird guano appeared to be a source of dietary delight, much to my horror. It was a trial – and one of the many reasons we were glad to move back to the city.
Fast forward 35 years to Perth – and a puppy who looks like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth…
… and it probably wouldn’t, since she’d have swallowed it in one gulp! She’s also decided that poop-eating in not restricted to country living. However, in the absence of cows and large birds, Cassie’s discovered the delights of dog-poop instead. Just to clarify, she’s not interested in her own faeces… In a bizarre turn of events, she’s taken to lurking nearby and pouncing on freshly laid Mollypoop!
Now I realise that puppies tend to show an interest in such things, but until this week the puppy had done little more than sniff. Yesterday – well, that was a first… and, if I have anything to do with it, a last! My shriek of aaaaargh! as she picked up a piece of freshly-produced-faeces and ran off with it was probably audible to the entire neighbourhood! It certainly had the desired result, allowing me to swoop down like a packet-wielding avenging angel!
Research tells me that this behaviour is thing called coprophagia, and that it’s not uncommon in dogs. The trick is to find out why Cassie’s started doing it. Apparently it could be for any number of reasons, including learned behaviour, attention seeking / bored, wrong or insufficient food, yard not cleaned up, worms, or enzyme deficiency.
I think we can rule out the first one – unless she’s remembering her mum (in Tasmania) cleaning up behind the litter of puppies. The second is possible, I guess – but she’s kept pretty occupied (played with, given puzzles, taken for walks, has Molly to chase and be chased by), so I think not. Food – the diet she’s on is healthy and balanced, but I’ll up the quantity she gets to see if that makes a difference. I’m paranoid about yard cleanup and do it twice a day – so that’s out. Today was the day for the monthly de-worming routine, which ensures that box is also ticked. That leaves visiting the vet to discuss blood tests (and medication) for enzyme deficiency… but I’ll wait to see if my epic-aaargh combined with food increase and de-worming has any effect.
I’m also wondering whether Molly has blocked anal glands again and whether that might be playing a role in all this… FYI, anal glands are a pair of small sacs located between the dog’s external and internal sphincter muscles. They usually empty themselves during defecation, but in a small percentage of dogs they don’t. Instead they fill up, get blocked, and sometimes overflow in a smelly and yukky sort of way. Might this be a reason for the puppy suddenly being more interested in Molly-poop: insufficient scent-marking?