Understanding coprophagia in dogs.

Understanding coprophagia in dogs. Image: Pixabay

What is coprophagia in dogs? Why does my dog eat poop?

Coprophagia in dogs is the act of consuming poop, which can be a natural behavior stemming from ancestral instincts or other factors.

Understanding coprophagia in dogs.

Understanding coprophagia in dogs. Image: Pixabay

While completely normal for them, few things are more off-putting to us than a dog eating poop. The technical term for this behaviour is coprophagia, and it’s surprisingly common.

According to Purina, coprophagia is the technical term for the, let’s face it, unpleasant habit of dogs eating poop – either their own or that of another animal. While it might make us recoil, it’s actually quite common for dogs to do this at some point in their lives.

There are two main reasons why dogs might engage in this unsavoury habit: medical and behavioural.

Medical Reasons for Coprophagia

Sometimes, a dog’s digestion isn’t quite up to snuff, leading them to seek nutrients from an unusual source: stool.

  • Nutritional Deficiencies: If your dog’s body isn’t properly absorbing essential nutrients from their food, they might turn to poop in an attempt to get what they’re lacking. Internal parasites, gut problems, or hormonal imbalances can cause this.
  • Digestive Issues: Certain digestive disorders can leave food partially undigested, making it smell more appealing to a dog and potentially more enticing to eat.

Behavioural Reasons for Coprophagia

Just like us, dogs can sometimes eat poop for reasons that have nothing to do with their physical health.

  • Learned Behaviour: Puppies can mimic this behaviour if they haven’t been properly housetrained, or if they see their mother cleaning up after them by eating their stool.
  • Boredom or Anxiety: A dog with little to do or feeling stressed might resort to coprophagia as a way to cope.
  • Attention-Seeking: If your dog gets a reaction, even a negative one, from you when they eat poop, they might keep doing it for attention.

What to Do if Your Dog Eats Poop

If you’re concerned about your dog’s coprophagia, a trip to the vet is essential. They can perform a full examination and run tests to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

Addressing Behavioural Coprophagia

Once you’ve ruled out medical reasons, dive right into addressing the behavioural side of coprophagia. Here are some tips:

  • Management: Be vigilant about picking up your dog’s waste promptly to limit their access to it. Keeping them on a leash during walks can also help maintain control.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Reward your dog for good behaviour! When they leave stool alone, praise them, give them a treat, or engage them in a fun game.
  • Address Underlying Issues: If boredom or anxiety seem to be the culprit, provide your dog with more mental and physical stimulation through walks, playtime, and interactive toys.
  • Consult a Trainer: A qualified dog trainer can offer guidance on behaviour modification techniques specifically tailored to your dog’s needs.

Understanding coprophagia’s reasons and addressing it helps your dog overcome the habit, making walks more enjoyable for all.

Artificial Intelligence assisted in compiling this article.