Many dog owners are shocked and repulsed to discover that their beloved pet has a tendency to eat faeces, whether it’s their own or other animals. This behaviour, known as coprophagia, can be disturbing and even unsanitary, but it’s also a common occurrence in the canine world. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why dogs eat poop and what you can do to prevent it.
Coprophagia is the medical term used to describe the behavior of eating feces, also commonly known as poop eating. This behavior can be seen in various animal species, but is most commonly observed in dogs. While it may seem distasteful or unsanitary, coprophagia is a relatively common behavior in dogs and can have a variety of causes, including nutritional deficiencies, boredom, attention seeking, and natural instincts. If you suspect that your dog may be engaging in coprophagia, it’s important to speak with a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and develop a plan to address it.
Reasons for Coprophagia:
• Nutritional deficiencies: Dogs may eat faeces if they are lacking certain nutrients in their diet. This behaviour is more common in dogs who are not receiving a balanced and complete diet, as they are looking for additional sources of nutrition. If you suspect this might be the case, consult with your veterinarian to make sure your dog is getting all the necessary nutrients in its diet.
• Boredom or lack of stimulation: If your dog is not getting enough mental and physical stimulation, they may turn to eating faeces as a way to keep themselves occupied. This can be particularly common in dogs that are kept alone for long periods of time or those that are not provided with enough exercise.
• Attention seeking: Some dogs may eat faeces in an attempt to get their owner’s attention. If your dog receives a lot of attention every time they engage in this behaviour, they may continue to do so in order to get more attention.
• Medical reasons: In some cases, coprophagia can be a sign of a medical issue, such as digestive problems, hormonal imbalances, or parasite infestations. If your dog is suddenly starting to eat faeces and this is out of character for them, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.
• Natural instincts: Finally, some experts believe that coprophagia is a natural instinct for dogs. In the wild, canines are known to clean up after themselves and their pack members by eating their faeces, in order to keep their den clean and eliminate the scent of waste that could attract predators.
How to Prevent Coprophagia:
• Provide a balanced diet: As mentioned earlier, coprophagia can sometimes be a result of nutritional deficiencies. Making sure your dog is receiving a balanced and complete diet will help to ensure that they are getting all the nutrients they need.
• Increase stimulation and exercise: Providing your dog with plenty of mental and physical stimulation can help to reduce boredom and prevent coprophagia. This can include regular exercise, playtime, and training sessions.
• Ignore the behaviour: If your dog is eating faeces to get attention, the best way to prevent this behaviour is to ignore it completely. Do not scold, hit, or yell at your dog when they engage in this behaviour, as this can actually reinforce the behaviour and make it more likely to continue.
• Use deterrents: There are a number of commercial deterrent products available, such as sprays and bitter-tasting substances, that can be applied to faeces to make it unappealing to dogs. You can also try feeding your dog immediately after they eliminate, as this will make them less likely to go back and eat their faeces.
• Seek veterinary help: If you’ve tried all of the above and your dog is still eating faeces, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian. They can rule out any underlying medical issues and help you develop a plan to prevent this behaviour.
Coprophagia is a common behaviour in dogs that can be distasteful and even unsanitary. While it can have several underlying causes, including nutritional deficiencies, boredom, attention seeking, medical issues, and natural instincts, there are steps owners can take to prevent it. These include providing a balanced diet, increasing stimulation and exercise, ignoring the behaviour, using deterrents, and seeking veterinary help. If you are struggling with your dog’s coprophagia, it’s important to speak with a veterinarian to find the best course of action for your pet.