All dog owners have already observed the dog’s behavior of ingesting feces. This behavior may be normal if it is occasional and not obsessive, but it should alert you when it becomes an obsession.
Watching your dog eat his feces can be disgusting and this behavior is called coprophagy. In this article, we will explain what coprophagy is, its causes and solutions.
What is coprophagy?
Coprophagy consists of feeding on feces. In many species such as insects, this is a normal part of their diet. In dogs, it may be normal behavior with a female dog who has given birth, when she licks and ingests the feces of her puppies during their first weeks of life.
However, coprophagia in dogs is abnormal and can have a variety of medical and behavioral origins.
Why is my dog eating his poop?
If your dog eats his feces, it may have several origins. Here are the main causes of coprophagia in dogs:
- Behavioral origin: Poor training, abuse or poor socialisation of the dog can lead to behavioral disorders that may involve coprophagia. Other causes can be named: stress, bulimia, boredom, disorientation with old dogs, small living space, etc.
- Food origin: a dog that eats too quickly or does not have a balanced and healthy diet may excrete undigested nutrients in its feces. These nutrients are always appetizing for the dog, which does not hesitate to eat them.
- Medical origin: Generally, when a dog considers feces as food, this corresponds to a digestive disorder. This poor digestion can be caused by: pancreatic insufficiency, a deficiency in amylase (an enzyme responsible for breaking down starch), chronic inflammation of the stomach and intestine, tumour, hormonal disorder or a parasitosis.
Is it dangerous for my dog to eat his poop?
When considering only the feces, even if it can cause bad breath, unpleasant for you and for all those who approach the dog, there is no real danger. The danger lies in the content of the feces.
Indeed, in most cases, bacteria that can cause gastroenteritis, or other dangerous viruses such as parvovirus or parasite eggs take refuge in the feces and infect your dog.
It is therefore very important to deworm your dog regularly, or even better, take care of this coprophagia problem and prevent him from eating his excrement.
My dog eats his poop: what can I do?
The first thing to do if your dog eats his feces is to consult a veterinarian without delay. Only a veterinarian can determine the cause of coprophagia in your dog, whether it’s a behavioral problem or a health concern. He will be able to establish the appropriate treatment.
At your level, you can take measures to prevent this behavior: a digestible, water-rich diet, regular deworming, clean bedding and a large enough living space.
Coprophagia in dogs: solutions to adopt
Above all, it is useful to point out that scolding and yelling at a dog that eats his feces can aggravate this behavior.
To correct coprophagia, here are some solutions to adopt:
- Improve his living conditions: it is important to space out your dog’s meals and walks.
- Keep your dog busy so he doesn’t get bored;
- Change his behavior: reward him every time he turns away from his excrement.
- Teach him how to stop, do not touch or do not move.
As a veterinary, I am passionate about animals, their health and their daily life. My second passion is writing, so what better way to talk to you about the health of animals and especially dogs?