If you are the proud parent of a poop-eating dog, you may be wondering if there is something wrong with your animal friend. The correct name for this condition is COPROPHAGIA. There are a number of reasons why dogs might eat their own stool or the stool of other animals. Some of these reasons are behavioral and some are health-related. It’s important to understand that every dog is different and every dog’s reason for engaging in coprophagia is different. The following is a short list of the main reasons why dogs may engage in coprophagia: 

1)       Perhaps the most common reason why a dog might eat poop is because the dog’s body requires more nutrients than he or she is receiving in his or her diet. To dogs, their feces and the feces of other animals smells like the food that animal ate. Because essentially, that’s what its composed of! In cases where the dog is being fed poor quality food, the dog’s body will pass all non-food items from said food such as preservatives, fillers and other ingredients that are devoid of nutrients without digestion. This leaves a limited amount of nutrients being digested by the dog. Therefore, the dog will be hungrier more quickly after eating, craving more nutrient rich substances. To avoid this, be sure to read all of the ingredients that you feed your dogs and understand what they are and if they are real food instead of fillers.


2)      Due to DNA wiring, some dogs will eat poop because its engrained in their genetic code. Before dogs became domesticated, they lived in a land full of predators. To ensure the safety of their pack, they chose to dispose of all evidence of their tracks by eating their poop. A mother dog is genetically wired to eat the poop of her babies to keep her den clean. Puppies see this behaviour and continue it as a mirror of what their mother did when they were learning to survive from her. By eating the evidence of their den, predators would be lesser likely to find them.


3)      Enzyme deficiency- some dogs do not react well to processed foods. Their pancreas lacks some of the enzymes responsible for the breakdown of carbohydrates as well as other processed ingredients. Because the stool of other animals contains these enzymes, they are attracted to the stool as a source of nutrients.


4)      Some submissive dogs will eat the poop of dominant dogs in the pack to show their submission in a multi-dog situation. This can be healed with positive-reinforcement behaviour modification techniques.


5)      Parasites- Dogs who have parasites will not absorb nutrients as the parasites will be ingesting the food for them. These dogs will always be hungry yet not gain any weight with increase of food. This condition needs medical assistance immediately.


6)      If you have attempted to train your dog to not poop in the house by rubbing his/her nose in it, the dog may feel guilt when he or she eliminates and want to get rid of it immediately. Eating the stool may be how he or she does so.


7)      Neglect- Sadly, when dogs are not being regularly fed, they will resort to eating whatever they can to survive. 

One reason why this behaviour is dangerous is that diseases can be found in the stool of dogs. Some diseases such as Parvo and Worms are highly contagious and can be extremely detrimental to your dog’s health. 

Whether behavioural or medical, if your dog has coprophagia, consult your animal care practitioner. It is important to understand why your dog is behaving this way and what you can do to treat it. It is important not to ignore these warning signs of physical, emotional and mental illness. By paying attention to these behaviours and seeking guidance from your holistic animal care practitioner or Animal Communicator, you could save your dog’s life!

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