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Coprophagia: The Rather Gross Habit Of Eating Poo!

  • by Bec
  • 2 min read

Yes some dogs eat poo! It is disgusting and rather gross to think about but it does happen. 

Coprophagia is the term given to the act of consuming faeces. Coprophagia is often seen in puppies but it usually stops as dogs reach adolescence and adulthood, however it will occasional continue into adulthood. There are many reasons, both medical and behavioural, that a dog may eat their own (or someone else’s) faeces including;

Medical Reasons

  • Being starving or hungry due to not being fed enough.
  • Increased appetite due to medical conditions such as diabetes or a thyroid problem.
    Internal parasites (worms) can absorb the nutrients out of the food leaving the dog hungry and/or undernourished.
  • Enzyme deficiencies, like exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, can stop the body from being able to digest food properly and therefore leaving undigested and possibly appealing food matters in the faeces as well as leaving the dog hungry and undernourished.
  • Malabsorption or poor nutrient absorption from the food can lead to the dog being hungry, craving nutrients and the faeces may seem appealing.
  • Being fed poor quality food that is hard to digest and/or leaving them feeling hungry and craving nutrients.

Behavioural Reasons

  • Boredom and just wanting something to do.
  • Exploration and discovery – they may find faeces interesting or something to play with.
  • Anxiety and stress such as being left alone or being scared.
  • Mimicking the bitches behaviour – bitches will eat, lick and clean up their puppies faeces in order to keep them and their area clean.
  • Attention seeking – eating poo will often draw attention from humans, although mostly negative, it is still attention that the dog may enjoy or want.

Coprophagia is sometimes complicated and can be a hard habit to break. It often requires a lot of time and consistency in treatment and/or prevention. Like every habit the sooner you start working towards rectifying the problem the easier it will be rather than leaving it for a long time before correcting. Some steps to take to break the habit include;

  • Firstly you need to determine if it is a medical reason, so take your dog to a veterinarian for a checkup to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
  • Be sure to keep their yard and/or kennel clean. This means collecting the poo daily if not immediately. Worm your dog for intestinal parasites being compliant with the dose rate and frequency.
  • Exercise your dog and provide mental and physical stimulation to avoid them getting bored.
  • Feed a good quality food suitable for the age, breed and size or the dog ensuring that are getting the required nutrients.

If your dog is eating faeces please contact your veterinarian to rule out any possible medical reason and for further advice on determining why they are eating faeces and how to best manage the problem for your dog.


Originally published in My Pet Magazine Issue 14.
To view all issues of My Pet Magazine click here.

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