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Why does a dog eat poop? – causes and effects

Why does a dog eat poop?

Especially among new dog owners, sooner or later the question arises: why does a dog eat poop? This is especially common among people who have taken in a young, curious puppy. Eating feces by a dog is incomprehensible and disgusting behavior for us humans, but it is worth asking ourselves whether it is dangerous for the dog and how to prevent it.

Coprophagia – what is it?

Coprophagia is the scientific name for the act of eating feces. This term comes from the Greek: copros –  feces and phagein – food.

This phenomenon most often affects puppies and young dogs. This is because some puppies, watching their mother clean the excrement, try to imitate her. Another reason is simply curiosity and playing with feces. These phenomena are most natural in the animal world.

Your dog’s poop-eating may slowly subside, but for some, it persists for a longer period of time. It is also important to remember that coprophagia may also have health, behavioral, or nutritional causes.

Types of coprophagia

Coprophagia can be divided depending on the type of poop the dog eats:

  • Autocoprophagia – when a dog eats its own poop.
  • Allocrophagia – when a dog eats other animals’ poop.

Dogs naturally have an aversion to feces, which means that they do not relieve themselves in the place where they spend most of their time. This is one of the reasons why your dog needs to go for walks.

Nowadays, the problem of dogs eating poop is quite common. There are cases where a dog eats poop from a cat’s litter box or runs away into bushes or bushes while walking in search of feces that it could eat. This is dangerous because, apart from being unhygienic, there is also an increased risk of infecting the dog with parasites or other viruses or pathogenic bacteria.

Be sure to read the article: “How to feed a puppy – the most important rules” .

Why does a dog eat poop?

There can be many reasons why a dog eats poop and it is worth dividing them into categories:

Health problems

Usually, the first thing that comes to our mind as to why a dog eats poop is that our pet may be sick. However, it does not always have to be a problem, but it is worth knowing what health problems can cause coprophagia in dogs. The most common health reasons for dogs eating feces include:

  • exocrine pancreatic insufficiency – the reason is that the pancreas does not produce enough enzymes, which is why the dog may suffer from impaired digestion and absorption of nutrients;
  • intestinal parasites;
  • polyphagia – may be the result of, for example, hyperactivity of the adrenal cortex;
  • short bowel syndrome – a disease characterized by disruption of the intestinal flora and impaired absorption of nutrients from food.

However, before we conclude that the cause of coprophagia in our dog is health problems, we must first carry out appropriate diagnostic tests to confirm our suspicions. These disease phenomena are characterized by the fact that the dog feels constantly hungry.

Nutritional problems

Another cause of your dog eating poop may be nutritional factors. The most common example is a deficient or low nutritious diet. The dog then instinctively looks for nutritional value from other sources. In this situation, as in the case of health problems, it is worth first testing the dog’s blood to determine any deficiencies. Another issue is to check and verify our dog’s current diet whether it provides him with all the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals in an appropriate and easily digestible form.

Behavioral factors

After ruling out the previous two causes of coprophagia in your dog, you should focus on possible behavioral problems. Often, eating the poop of a dog results in behavioral disorders. The most common behavioral reasons that cause a dog to eat poop are:

  • boredom and lack of interest on the part of the caregiver;
  • excessive stress;
  • compulsive behaviors;
  • insulation in too small a space;
  • a habit that has its origins in the past, e.g. detention in poor conditions.

Behavioral problems are often difficult to diagnose without the help of a specialist, so in such a situation it is worth seeking advice from a dog behaviorist.

Dog’s curiosity

Curiosity in eating poop is most often noticeable in puppies and disappears with age. Young dogs treat feces as prey or a toy. Unlike humans, dogs do not feel disgusted by feces. Dog droppings are interesting because they are often used to mark territory. The smell of feces attracts the dog’s attention to sniff and read signals from other dogs.


Consequences of a Dog Eating Feces

According to current veterinary knowledge, coprophagia does not pose a major threat to the spread of diseases among dogs. However, the risk of infection with intestinal parasites or other pathogens cannot be ruled out. That is why it is so important not to ignore this behavior in our dog and to counteract it effectively. However, the first thing we should do is find the cause of coprophagia.

How to stop your dog from eating poop?

Before taking any steps to stop your dog from eating its excrement, it should be thoroughly examined. The basic tests that should be performed are blood morphology and biochemistry as well as stool tests. After consulting a veterinarian, we should rule out any health problems.

If the reason for your dog eating poop is nutritional, you should first analyze the animal’s current diet. The basic diet should be nutritious and provide nutritional values ​​in the right quantity and quality.

Other methods, which do not replace improving the basic diet but may accompany it, are:

  • additional supplementation – using natural supplements that will enrich the dog’s body with essential minerals and vitamins may help prevent the dog from eating poop;
  • enzyme supplementation – especially in the case of pancreatic diseases, additional enzyme supplementation is used to support digestion and organ function.
  • delicacies with an intense smell – an example here is beef rumens, which, thanks to their intense smell, are as interesting an alternative for a dog as eating feces.

If the cause of your dog eating feces may be a behavioral factor, you should first:

  • keep the dog’s surroundings clean – we should check whether the environment in which the dog stays is hygienic. If we are also cat guardians, it is important to clean the litter box frequently and regularly.
  • close observation of the dog – we should check in what situations the dog most often eats poop, e.g. whether it always happens during walks.
  • dog training – here you may need to consult a dog trainer and behaviorist, but learning appropriate commands may be a great solution.

Be sure to read: “10 dangerous symptoms of disease in dogs” .

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