What Is Coprophagia?
When your puppy or dog eats his stool or the stool of another animal, it can be a gross and unsettling experience. However, Coprophagia can be very easy to treat at home.
Coprophagia refers to the ingestion of stool, either that of your dog or of another animal. There is still a lot of controversy over why dogs ingests stool.
One theory is that puppies are mimicking what their mothers do when in the den at a very young age. Dogs tend to keep a very clean nesting area, and mothers will often ingest the stool of their puppies when cleaning and caring for them to keep the den area clean. Puppies may then mimic this behavior when learning social cues from their parents. Coprophagia may go away on its own as your dog ages.
Another theory is that dogs may eat stool or other non-food objects as a result of nutritional deficiency. Many herbivore animals will eat their stool as a way of redigesting harder to digest nutrients, allowing for more nutrition. These animals usually produce two types of stool, one for reconsumption that provides more nutrients, and one for actual defecation. Your dog may be attempting to regain lost nutrients by eating stool or may be trying to find additional nutrients by eating the stool of other animals.
A third theory is that dogs eat stool because it “tastes good.” While stool seems very unpalatable to humans, dogs have fewer taste buds than humans and rely more on scent than taste when determining if something is edible. It may be that the aroma of certain stools, including their own, is enticing enough to encourage eating.
Can I Prevent My Dog From Eating His Stool?
Prevention and treatment of eating stool can be easily done at home with several remedies. The easiest remedy is to pick up the stool of your dog immediately to prevent them from eating it. By keeping your furry friend on a leash to monitor what is going into his mouth, you can stop a dog from eating stool. Additional treatment such as adding supplements or additives to the diet to make stool unpalatable, or adding treatments to stool once it is placed may deter eating.
What Should I Do If I Suspect My Dog Coprophagia?
If your puppy has not seemed to outgrow his love of eating stool or you suspect there may be a medical reason behind the behavior, seeking veterinary care can be helpful. Your vet can examine your dog and may also recommend blood work to check for any nutritional deficiencies that may encourage Coprophagia. Your vet can then recommend changes in diet or additional supplementation with vitamins to improve the overall health of your dog.
Treatment is usually very simple and can be done by following the above prevention tips. Most dogs will also naturally outgrow Coprophagia with age; however, some dogs may retain a “taste” for certain stool, such as cat litter boxes!
Natural Remedies For Treating Coprophagia
For-bid is a treatment for dogs and other pets to make the stool unpalatable. Other natural remedies may include feeding or placing spicy foods, such as Tabasco, to deter eating. However, feeding spicy foods may cause some digestive upset, such as vomiting or diarrhea, in sensitive pets! Changing the diet to a more balanced diet or adding in supplements to solve any nutrient deficiencies may help stop the behavior.