Your Puppy ATE WHAT!
Coprophagia (stool eating) is disgusting and revolting to humans, but really quite common in dogs. This topic came up recently on our Havanese e-list, as it often does when people get a new Havanese puppy. As one person wrote for advice, another chimed in mine does it too and another and another until it seemed that this was an overwhelming breed problem. Do all Havanese puppies indulge in this habit? Is it a breed trait? Not especially, though there may be some reasons that appear to make it so.
Many Havanese puppies try stool eating when they are young, discovering the world and experiment with all sorts of things. This is very common and most puppies get past this stage quickly. Owners without the problem are unlikely to bring it up, so that means the only ones we hear about are those Havanese puppies with the problem, which makes it appear more widespread.
Common reasons behind coprophagia are dietary imbalance, deficiency, food intolerance or allergy. While Havanese are not especially prone to true food allergies, food intolerance appears more common. Are Havanese digestive systems sensitive or is it in part because their cute mannerisms get them a larger proportion of extra tidbits which may simply be too much food to process or too rich to digest properly? Or does it stem from a combination of issues?
If your Havanese eats food containing ingredients it is allergic or intolerant to, or more food than it can digest, your puppy may not be getting the nutrition it needs, even though eating seemingly well. If food is not digested or absorbed properly, the resulting stool is largely undigested which can make it tempting. If your Havanese has a problem with coprophagia, the first step, after a Vet check, is to eliminate the most common problem ingredients from the dog food, which are over-processed wheat, corn and soy. Improving the diet with high quality digestible foods and reducing rich extras can be enough to make a dramatic difference. Adding a digestive enzyme can help your Havanese process its food better. Some Havanese owners have found good success by simply adding Apple Cider Vinegar, Spinach, zucchini, green beans or pineapple to the diet or by using commercial deterrents like Deter or Forbid.
Ideally, take your Havanese puppy out on a leash each time he goes out to eliminate. After eliminating, call your puppy to you promptly and do not even give him a chance to sniff the droppings. Of course, it will also help tremendously to keep your yard as clean as possible so stool eating never becomes a habit to begin with. Because Havanese stools are so small, its easy to neglect the yard which simply encourages the problem. The longer Corpophagia persists, the likelier it is to become a hard-to-break habit.