Coprophagia is a dog can not only be a worrying sign that there is something wrong with your pet’s health or well-being.
A dog that eats a cat or other dog faeces is also at risk of becoming infected.
If you want to stop your dog from eating faeces, you must first establish why your dog eats poo.
It is also important to remember that this treatment will not always give immediate results.
Coprophagia in dogs is a troublesome behavioural problem that many pet owners encounter. Having your dog eat the faeces of other animals, people or your own doesn’t just cause disgust and frustration. This behaviour can be dangerous and cause many health problems for both the dog and other household members. Why does your dog eat poo? Find out the causes of coprophagia in dogs and find out how to stop your dog from eating his excrement!
What is coprophagia and where does it come from?
Coprophagia (Gr. kópros = faeces + phagein = to eat) is the behaviour of eating the faeces of oneself or other animals. In nature, coprophagy is an extremely common phenomenon not only among insects (such as the dung beetle). It is also typical of many species of mammals and domestic animals, including dogs. Faeces are a source of easily digestible nutrients, digestive enzymes and vitamins produced by the intestinal microflora.
However, faeces consumption by dogs is not only a way to enrich their daily diet. This behaviour can also occur in bitches caring for puppies. The purpose of eating their faeces is to maintain order in the nest. Coprophagia in dogs can also be caused by puppy curiosity and the need to explore the world. However, it can also be a symptom of various health problems and behavioural disorders. Therefore, if we notice that our dog eats his own or other animals’ poo, we should not underestimate such behaviour.
Dangers of coprophagia
Coprophagia in a dog may not only be a worrying symptom that something wrong is happening to your pet’s health or well-being. Eating dog faeces is a common cause of serious poisoning. If your dog eats the poop of an animal that has recently been dewormed, is taking strong medication or is under the influence of alcohol, it can cause your pet to take in high doses of unintended, potentially harmful substances. Poisoning from certain compounds excreted by humans or other animals can lead to damage to your pet’s internal organs and even death. A dog that eats a cat or other dog faeces is also at risk of becoming infected, which can then endanger the rest of the household.
What should you do if your dog eats poo?
Coprophagia in dogs can have many health and behavioural causes. It can also be a completely natural behaviour that dogs have inherited from their ancestors. If our dog eats faeces, we should as soon as possible take an interest in this behaviour and determine its cause, and then implement an appropriate procedure to eliminate the cause.
Diagnosing the causes behind coprophagia in dogs and introducing treatment or supplementing nutritional deficiencies can be time-consuming and will not bring immediate results. Therefore, before the problem is solved, the dog should be walked only on a leash or muzzled to prevent it from eating poop found on a walk. It is also a good idea to teach your four-legged dog the command „leave it”, which will stop it from eating the faeces. If your dog eats cat litter from the litter tray at home, put it in a place inaccessible to the dog or install a gate in the room to stop the dog and allow the cat to use the tray freely.
A dog eats poo – the causes
Determining the cause of why dogs eat poop is not a simple task. However, it is essential to implement the right treatment to solve the problem of coprophagia. Here are the possible reasons why your dog eats faeces and ways in which you can prevent this annoying behaviour.
Feeding your dog a monotonous, unbalanced diet can cause nutritional deficiencies. Too few vitamins, minerals or protein in the diet may provoke your dog to eat faeces containing easily digestible nutrients. Deficiencies in the food you feed your dog may also affect your dog’s health and cause recurring digestive problems, problems with excessive hair loss or bad breath. If you suspect that your dog is defecating because of a poor, monotonous diet, you should ensure that your dog is fed a healthy diet. It is also worth providing him with balanced food rich in essential vitamins, protein and minerals.
Coprophagia often occurs in malnourished dogs that receive too small portions of food that don’t cover their daily caloric needs. Dogs with a history of frequent starvation may also tend to eat faeces. Dogs are adopted from shelters, taken in from the streets or rescued from pseudo-breeding. Malnutrition can also be the cause of various health disorders and developmental defects. Therefore, dogs that have been starved should be carefully examined and care should be taken to ensure that their food provides them with the right amount of nutrients and calories to enable them to recover.
Eating other animals’ poo may have physiological causes in dogs. A lack of digestive enzymes, constant hunger due to thyroid failure or problems with nutrient absorption may cause your pet to become interested in the faeces found on walks. Such health disorders are often accompanied by other symptoms such as recurrent diarrhoea, emaciation, weakness and a dull coat. If we suspect that our dog is eating faeces for physiological reasons, we should go to the vet and ask for tests to detect the diseases that are causing this behaviour.
Disturbed intestinal microflora
The growth of abnormal intestinal microflora in your dog’s digestive tract will have a huge impact on your pet’s health. It can cause not only digestive problems but also deficiencies in various substances that are produced by healthy bacteria in the dog’s intestines. Disturbed intestinal microflora and the resulting deficiencies can be the reason why a dog eats the poop of other animals. If a pet with coprophagia also suffers from recurrent diarrhoea and gas or has recently undergone antibiotic treatment, it may be worth giving it pastes, tablets or food containing probiotic bacteria.
Coprophagia can be one of many symptoms associated with behavioural problems. Faeces-eating can occur in dogs suffering from separation anxiety, severe anxiety or compulsive behaviour. A dog may also eat its poo due to senile dementia or living in a too poor, monotonous environment. If your dog eats its droppings while walking and exhibits other problematic behaviours daily, you should refer it to a dog behaviourist who will determine the causes of your dog’s coprophagia and implement the appropriate therapy.
Taking into mouth everything that is in reach is typical behaviour for curious puppies, who get to know the surrounding world in this way. A puppy who eats faeces will most likely grow out of such ideas himself over time. However, it does happen that coprophagia in puppies will become entrenched. That’s why, if you notice your puppy eating poo, you should distract him from it and teach him as soon as possible the command „leave it”, which will prevent him from taking the wrong things into his mouth.