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Coprophagia - My Dog Eats Poop
What is Coprophagia?
Coprophagia is the proper name for stool eating, which is actually a normal canine behavior. In the wild momma canines keeps her den clean by eating the poop of her young pups, and as the pups grow, they copy the behavior to help mom clean house. But, once weaned out of the nest, so to speak, most puppies typically stop eating poop. Generally, it takes a few weeks for pups to grow out of the phase of eating his own poop, but in some cases it can be a long-lasting problem.
Although, coprophagia is a nasty habit that isn't desirable, it isn't a behavior that is dangerous as long as your dog is just eating his own poop. Now, if he tries to eat the cat's poop, that's a whole other issue that can become hazardous to his health. Or, if your dog eats another dog's poop, he may contract an illness, as most contagious canine illnesses are transmitted through feces, so if your dog ingests poop from a sick dog, he could become ill.
Worms and other parasites can also be transmitted through ingesting poops, so ideally, it's just not something that you want your dog to do.
What Causes My Dog to Eat His Poop?
There is not 100% direct cause as to why dog's will eat their poop on occasion or at every instance, but the most popular suggestion is due to a dietary deficiency. The flaw with this theory is that in an entire litter of pups feeding on the same diet, how does one explain the one puppy who eats his poop? But, in some cases, it really is a nutritional imbalance, as studies have shown that dogs who are low in vitamin B1 are prone to eating their own stool.
Another theory is pure boredom. Being cooped up in a kennel or outside alone all day long, can cause dogs to do some pretty weird things, so why not sniff around a bit and potentially detect some undigested food in his own poop and just start chowing down.
Sometimes, it's from stress, as dogs with different fears will react different in times of stress when encountering their fear, and some may result to eating their own stool.
And in some cases, dogs will eat their poop during house training. If you punish your dog when he makes a mistake on the floor, he will try to find ways to hide it because you're not really training him what to do just what not to do without any real alternative. So, when he poops on the floor, there's nothing he can do but eat it, and in some cases it becomes habit.
For the most part, the exact cause as to why your dog is eating his own poop is going to be something that you're going to have to figure out from your own dog and his actions. Has he always eaten his poop, ever since you brought him home? Or is the behavior a new behavior that just started.
How to Stop My Dog From Eating Stool?
- Keep a well balanced diet. A high quality, nutritious diet that is highly digestible and has very few if any fillers will result in less stool, and those stools are less attractive because the dog will be less hungry for snacks due to less undigested fillers and junk.
- Feed your dog just enough. If you overfeed your dog, it can result in the dog not fully digesting all of the food, which means he's going to poop out undigested food that will smell appetizing and enticing to eat.
- Clean the yard. Make sure that you pick up any stool lying around as soon as you can. The longer you leave it, the more enticing it will become to eat.
- Walk your dog on a leash. When you walk your dog on a leash to take him out to potty, it will be easier to monitor his stool eating behaviors; this is best for avid and dedicated eaters. When you see him try to sniff or nibble at his poop, tell him 'No' in a stern voice and redirect his attention with a treat or toy. This is also a great method of training 'Leave It.'
- Add a tenderizer. Some people claim that by sprinkling a very small bit of meat tenderizer on their dog's food makes the stool less palatable. Look for meat tenderizers that contain papain.
- Other deterrents and preventatives. There are a few products that are effective at stopping coprophagia. These products are sprinkled on your dog's food, and once the product has passed through your dog's digestive tract, stool becomes less appealing.
- Move the litter box. If the dog is eating cat poop, and you've already adjusted the dog's diet and the dog is still feasting in the litter box, you'll just want to move the box so the dog can't get to it.
Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed veterinarian. The methods outlined above may or may not work for your pet. If you have any concerns, you should consult a veterinarian.