Coprophagia or coprophagy is the comsumption of feces.
Coprophagy refers to many kinds of feces eating including eating feces of other species (heterospecifics), or other individuals (allocoprophagy), or its own (autocoprophagy).
For as long as I can remember dog lovers have been asking this question. Years ago when I work in a clinical environment I asked the Veterinarians that I work with what their take was on this subject. There were many theories but no one answer.
Reasons why your dog may be snacking on feces.
Some believe that all canines, wild or domestic will eat feces when food if experiencing a food shortage.
Why do some only eat frozen poop while others only eat poop at a certain time of year & some just have a taste & move on while others become obsessed with eating poop or certain poop.
Medical reasons range from intestinal malabsorption, GI parasites, enzyme deficiency / pancreatic insufficiency.
Many dogs do not secrete enough enzymes to help them process their food which in turn creates a dog with deficiency . Since the feces of other animals are a source of digestive enzymes, dogs with a deficiency will eat enzyme rich poop.
Dogs on processed dry food diets & have no source of living foods at all will seek out the feces of others to make up for their chronic enzyme deficiency.
Most commercial dry cat foods contain ingredients that are not bioavailable, so they are passed out in the cat’s feces undigested. What could be more tempting to an enzyme deficient dog.
Behavioral problems might also play a big part in why your dog is eating feces.
Dogs who are punished for pooping because of location etc. may believe that it is bad to poop & will try to get rid of it by eating it.
A stressed or anxious dog may start to eat feces.
Older dogs who practice poop eating may teach younger dogs & the cycle goes on.
Puppies weaned too young, or go hungry, have to fight for their spot at the feeding bowl or are forced to sit in crates for long periods (weeks or more) with nothing to do may also develop a behavior of feces eating.
You are probably asking how do I stop my dog from being a coprophagist.
Number one way, clean up your dog’s poop immediately. If there is none available none can be eatened.
If you have cats keep their litter box clean, in a location the dog does not have access to or purchase a self-cleaning litter box.
Improve your pet’s diet. Feed whole live foods, add digestive enzymes & probiotics in their meals.
Keep Fido’s mind stimulated with sufficient exercise & play. A bored dog will create it’s own stimulation which is not always healthy.
If considering one of the many copropphagia deterrent products please remember many of these products contain MSG. Look for a non-toxic deterrent that does not contain MSG.
Although this is a common behavior problem, it is always important to discuss your dog’s behavior even this distasteful (no pun intended) one with your Veterinarian to rule out any possible underlying health concerns.
CEO, Olivia ❤