The term “Coprophagia” refers to dogs eating either their own feces, or snacking away on another dog’s or other animal’s droppings.
Why do dogs eat feces?
This behavior is rooted in the early mother-puppy bond, when a nursing mother dog licks her puppies’ behinds to entice them to eliminate (she does this within the first 3 weeks).
Besides triggering elimination, she would also ensure that no trace or smell would reveal her fragile litter’s presence to the outside world (obviously, this would apply to her raising her young in the wild).
Some dogs may “supplement” their menu if they aren’t fed a healthy, nutritious diet, or if they simply aren’t fed enough and are consequently hungry.
If a dog is fed a poor diet and hence not able to digest the majority of his food, he will likely be attracted to partial remainders left in the poop.
He may be attracted to the feces left behind by herbivores as they contain nutrients. Some dogs may develop this habit due to boredom and being under-exercised.
Remember, bored and mentally unchallenged dogs will find a way to keep themselves busy, while the likelihood of their humans approving of their outlet is slim to none…
If your dog fits into this category, make some time in your schedule for playtime with him. Engage his braincells by teaching him a few tricks, and take him for daily walks!
If your pup is confined to his backyard only, he may want to clean his personal space. Remember, a dog who never gets to leave his backyard views it as nothing more than a very large crate.
A dog needs to explore different places and migrate; this need is engraved in his genes and that’s why the daily walk is so important!!!
How to stop your dog from eating poop:
1) Adding Pumpkin Puree to the dog’s diet can help stop this nasty habit, but only works with some dogs.
Check out my post on how to make your dog’s own pumpkin puree below:
2) If you caught your dog eating your cat’s poop out of the litter box, invest in a closed cat litter box he won’t be able to access, or simply place it out of your pup’s reach.
3) You can also try topping Fido’s leftovers with anything spicy such as really hot sauce or pepper…
4) … but quite frankly it would be much easier to monitor your dog’s potty routine and to just pick up the poop right away instead of having to go through all this trouble!
Positive side effect: You won’t step into piles of poop in your backyard.
If your dog has coprophagia, do take him to the vet for a health checkup, in order to rule out any medical issues first.
As with so many other things, prevention is key. Invest in a healthy, nutritious diet, pick up immediately after your dog has pooped, and pay attention when he’s on leash next to you.
I recommend feeding species-appropriate, raw dog food. One of its many benefits is reduced stool volume. That’s because dogs who eat raw dog food are able to absorb a lot more of the food they eat than when they eat kibble and/or wet dog food. The latter contain a lot of empty fillers like grains and carbs that aren’t meant to be absorbed by a dog’s digestive system.
That’s why dogs who eat a highly processed diet have much larger poops than dogs who eat less processed food like raw or dehydrated/freeze-dried dog food.
Dehydrated or freeze-dried dog food is a good alternative to offering fresher dog food if you’re not ready to make the switch to a raw dog food diet quite yet. I made the switch from kibble to raw via a little detour of dehydrated & freeze-dried dog food.
But whatever the reason may be for your dog eating his own or another animal’s feces: Don’t punish him for it, and NEVER hit him or rub his face into it.
This method is extremely counter-effective, as it only teaches him that you can not be trusted.
Have you had to deal with a case of coprophagia in your dog? How did you handle it? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!