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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 26288
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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My 11 month old puppy has been eating less and less. Its

Customer Question

My 11 month old puppy has been eating less and less. Its down to, one meal at night is all he wants and he doesnt finish it. I can tell he has lost some weight. Increased thirst. And a new found interest in eating his poop. On the flip side, he is still very playful and does not seem ill outside of the behaviors and sneezing l.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Problems with drinking can be serious. I'm glad you noticed it. The Veterinarian will know what to do. What is the puppy's name?
Customer: Kaius
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Kaius?
Customer: He is current on his shots, we changed food about a month ago and he recently has been cut off from human food treats
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 months ago.

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Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 months ago.

I can understand a puppy limiting his food intake throughout his first year of life but Kaius's weight loss and polydipsia (increased thirst) are symptoms of illness rather than normal behavior of maturing. His coprophagia may be a clue to his disorder. Please review my synposis of coprophagia and then return to our conversation with further questions or concerns...

Coprophagia is seen more frequently in puppies but most eventually outgrow it. Puppies may indulge in coprophagia as harmless investigative or playful behavior and owners must be cautious not to inadvertently reinforce the behavior by giving the puppy additional attention when it consumes feces. Pets that are underfed or placed on an overly restricted diet may have a voracious appetite which may also include coprophagia. Pets that have been overfed, and those with gastrointestinal conditions such as malabsorption or trypsin deficiencies may have higher amounts of undigested ingredients remaining in the feces. These feces might then be palatable enough to appeal to some dogs. Similarly, horse and cat feces can be particularly appealing to some dogs. It is commonly thought that inadequate exercise and environmental stimulation may make a dog more likely to consume its own feces.

The ultimate cause of coprophagia in adult dogs has always been elusive. Some feel that the problem is behavioral, while others are convinced there is an organic reason. Soft stools, incomplete digestion of food within the stools, evidence of steatorrhea (fat in the feces), increased stool frequency or volume, or a voracious appetite might indicate a problem with maldigestion or malabsorption. Other gastrointestinal disturbances such as inflammatory bowel disease, systemic health problems including renal failure and endocrinopathies (unlikely in an otherwise normal 11 month old), medications such as glucocorticoids (prednisone, e.g.), central nervous system diseases or any disease process that causes polyphagia (increased hunger) might lead to picas (eating non-digestibles) and coprophagia. Calorie-restricted diets, especially those that are not balanced or do not adequately satiate the dog may also lead to picas including coprophagia. Recent research has suggested that there may indeed be a medical component to the problem in some cases. In a small study of nine coprophagic dogs, all had at least one laboratory abnormality that could explain the problem. The laboratory profile included a complete blood count, complete biochemical profile, amylase, lipase, trypsin-like immunoreactivity (TLI), vitamin B12, folate, fecal fat, fecal trypsin, fecal muscle fiber, trace minerals including zinc, selenium, copper, iron, magnesium and boron, and fecal sedimentation (an ova and parasite exam). Most had borderline to low TLI (suggesting pancreatic exocrine enzyme deficiency) while others had abnormalities in folate, Vitamin B12 (decreased serum levels of folate and vitamin B12 suggest malaborption disorders) or other nutrients. As you can see, in a dog in which Forbid (a product added to the diet which then makes feces distasteful) has failed, it might be wise to have blood work performed. Kaius's vet can determine if all the above is necessary. For instance, checking trace mineral blood levels might be waived if Kaius is eating a high quality puppy food.