Does your furry friend eat poop? If it does, then you must know that it is called Coprophagia. You must consult a vet in this case, and they will help determine if there is any medical condition.
What is Coprophagia?
Coprophagia is a scientific term to dogs’ habit of eating. It feels pretty upsetting and revolting to humans, but it is relatively common in dogs. You might see your puppy eating feces in the backyard, or from the litter box, or during walks. These are all symptoms of Coprophagia. There are many reasons, be it physical, behavioral, or medical reasons, for a dog to eat its feces.
Normal reasons why my dog is eating poop
As eating poop is a natural instinct in dogs, there are some normal situations where your dog eats poops such as;
- Nursing: Nursing female dogs eat the feces of their puppies to clean up their den.
- Curiosity of puppies: Puppies who watch their mothers eating their poops could imitate the same behavior out of curiosity. Also, When the consistency of a dog's stool changes, it can make the dog curious and encourage it to eat it.
- Palatability of other animals’ feces: Some dogs may eat the feces of other animals like cats because they like its taste.
When is it a problem?
Away from being a natural behavior, eating poops excessively could be a problem specially when adult dogs eating poop as a habit leading to serious health effects.
Unusual reasons for eating poop
Dogs tend to eat poops abnormally for the following reasons;
These parasites feed on the dog's macronutrients, and it is best to get it checked for intestinal parasites.
Endocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI)
The dog’s pancreas fails to produce enough digestive enzymes in this condition. Thus, the food the dog ingests doesn't break down. Also, the nutrients don't get absorbed, leaving the dog starving.
The dog may also eat poop if you don't feed it properly or if it is malnourished, malnourishment could also make the dog eat dirt. You must also note that prescription medications can make a dog feel pretty hungry, ending up eating poop.
Here are some behavioral reasons why a dog eats poop:
- A dog that was abused in the past and wasn't being fed properly or was being starved. In such conditions, the dog may be forced to eat its poop.
- Puppies from the puppy mill may eat poop because of anxiety issues. It happens because they were neglected, and there were overcrowding issues.
- A puppy might eat its poop to seek the attention of its parents.
- Dogs might eat their poop when they are bored, kenneled, or isolated for a long time.
Potential risks for eating poop
It is a little dangerous when a dog eats its feces. You should note that the bacteria and parasites from the poop can get transmitted to humans when they come in contact with the dog's saliva or mouth. If you cannot stop your dog from eating its stool, you need to wash your hands every time you come in contact with the dog's saliva or mouth.
It also becomes a problem when dogs eat the feces of another animal. They put themselves at risk for ingesting the intestinal parasites, eggs, and harmful bacteria that can make them ill. A terrible effect of a dog eating feces is the foul breath that comes after it. Dental care can prevent it, but you must consider consulting a veterinarian.
Solutions to eating dogs eating poop
It will be best if you start with getting your dog checked up for medical problems. After that, it is time to address the dog’s behavior. Reversing poop-eating behavior is quite tricky because it is more of a self-rewarding behavior. Here are some advice and instructions for you to follow;
- Make sure that your backyard is free of animal waste
- Pick up the poop immediately after the dog defecates
- Keep it on leash while it defecates
- Train the dog to instantly turn the attention to you when it looks at the feces
- Reward the dog for doing that with a tasty treat, and discard the poop immediately after that
- You can also prevent Coprophagia by adding something to the dog's diet that could repel it from eating poop through changing the poop’s taste to be bitter. Such products are available in the market, and although they won't work for all dogs, there is no harm in trying unless your dog isn't allergic
- Consult the vet about the safest and the best products that will prevent stool-eating in dogs