Coprophagia in Dogs: Coprophagia means a habit of eating poop or feces. There is nothing more disgusting to a puppy owner than seeing the dog eat their own or another dog’s feces.
We may never know for sure but we have a clue as to what initiates the behavior and can sur on how and why it continues.
Facts about coprophagia
Coprophagia is not an abnormal behavior for dogs in some cases. Bitches naturally feed on their puppy feces to keep the kennels clean.
This behavior provides a survival advantage because it prevents the development of unsanitary conditions in the kennel; The state of affairs leading to disease.
The biological drive to eat feces, which is set as a survival instinct, is that nursing bitches force their children to take feces.
In addition, most puppies go through the oral phase, in which they explore everything by mouth, sometimes taking in a variety of non-food items, including feces.
Over time, puppy’s finds food tastes that are better than feces and they leave the habit of eating feces for the rest of their lives.
Some older puppies may continue to eat feces for a few months, but most will break the habit after the first year.
With the exception of nursing bitches, the vast majority of “normal” adult dogs are completely uninterested in eating feces.
When Coprophagia is a problem?
Slow learners, puppies that are accustomed to “oral retentives” and puppies may continue to engage in coprophagia and become more involved in it beyond the accepted “norm”.
Such hard-core coprophagic continue to behave long after their peers have developed new interests. Such dogs, which seem to be addicted to the habit, can be described as “compulsive”.
Below is a list of contributing factors, even if more than one is working in any given case.
- Chance of noticing dam eating feces
- High protein, low residue, puppy diet
- Irregular feeding schedule
- Feeding inadequate amounts
- Low stimulus atmosphere
- Constant chance of taking stool
- Attention / supervision is not enough
Diagnosis for Coprophagia
Whether by nature, breed or a combination of factors, coprophagy raises its ugly head into a persistent and irritating habit that some long-suffering dog owners seem to endure.
There are different forms of coprophagy, but, no matter what form it takes, perhaps similar drives and predictions work. Variations on the theme:
- Dogs that only partially have their own feces
- Dogs that eat only the feces of other dogs
- Dogs that only defecate in winter if frozen (“poopsicles”)
- Dogs that eat only feces of different breeds, often cats
There are some “home” remedies, but they rarely work. Here are some:
- Adding Adolf’s Meat Tenderizer? Or ban?, Commercially available preparations of pancreatic enzymes for dog food
- Inclusion of crushed breath mint in the diet
- Should every stool be “doctored” with Tabasco? Hoping to discourage the dog from the habit
Although it is important to note that the results are changing, the following strategies have been more successful:
- Anti-coprophagia food additives make your dog’s stool undesirable. Natural foods can have the same result as pineapple or pumpkin.
- Keep your dog on a good diet. Defective food that does not give the dog’s body what it needs will motivate them to eat feces or use the item shared below.
It is recommended that you read the material label; The first ingredient should be a protein “by-product”. Foods and vitamins can also be used.
We usually take all the vitamins and supplements we think you need to treat coprophagia in dogs, but if you want to do your research and try another option, we are happy to order this for you!
- Fragrance sprays are generally recommended. If you leave your dog in the yard, you need to be very careful as these sprays are designed to be applied directly to the stool, creating an odor that your dog may feel very unpleasant to desire.
Bitter apple or water and vinegar mix effective DIY scent sprays.
- Intensive training may be required if the behavior is deeply compulsive. Avoid yelling and scaring when the dog eats feces. To get started, give them a “no” and drive them away from the poop.
Indications of interest in stool Repeat this at any time. If this does not discourage them, seek help from a dog trainer for a more intensive approach – we are very happy to recommend some of our well-known and trusted trainers in this area.
Every dog is different. Keeping a clean environment helps with this type of training and reduces the chance of coprophagia.
- Long walks with a wire basket muzzle are very effective treatment tools for coprophagia. Increasing dog exercise is a great way to reduce the anxiety that can lead to coercive behavior. The wire basket muzzle prevents the dog from eating anything while wearing it.
- Eliminate the opportunity for your dog to eat feces by maintaining a clean yard, playground and keeping them in a small bar while on the walk.
Clearing all the stools on the surface (i.e denial of access)
- Teach the LEAVE IT command
Although some of the above measures are occasionally found to be effective on their own, it is advisable to apply the entire program of prevention for at least six months to wipe out the bud behavior.
During this time, if the dog accesses the feces and picks it up, some land is lost. Even if every two come back one step forward, let’s hope to make progress in the end.
Despite all these changes in the environment and training, some dogs continue to have coprophagia habit. For these dogs, a diagnosis of compulsive disorder is worth considering. Some harsh cases respond to the fair use of human anti-depressants.
Although controversial, the diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder seems to fill the bill, at least in this case, and it meets certain scientific criteria for diagnosis.
Facial authenticity: The dog appears passionate about eating feces and has to take it.
Predictive Validity: Extreme, refractory, coprophagy genetic predisposition should be followed, which occurs most often in anxious breeds of dog. The latter seems to be true as this condition is more common in some species (e.g. retrievers).
Also, the condition should respond to treatment with anti-obsessive-compulsive disorder.
In most cases, coprophagia can be successfully treated at home through management changes (exercise, diet and supervised outdoor excursions), but occasionally beware of a medical condition that degrades in the same way (the vet can help you rule out such situations).