Why is my dog eating poo?
The correct term for poo eating in animals is coprophagia and is a much more common behaviour in dogs than people think. It is typically thought that this happens because there is something lacking in the dogs diet that they need to compensate for, however there are several possible reasons as to why your dog is eating faeces, some of which could be linked to an underlying health issue. If the cause is not identified and dealt with from an early stage there is a higher risk that the behaviour will continue and eventually become a recurring habit.
- Poor quality of low digestibility
- Food tolerance
- Excess protein and fat
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Toxic waste build-up
- Confused puppy’s during toilet training
- Curiosity and attention during puppy years
- Environmental stress (i.e. Isolation or confinement)
Firstly you can make a start by keeping things clean by picking up and disposing of the waste immediately after your dog which will help to deny any access or opportunity in order to break the habit. Dogs eating faeces can also be linked to a lack of mental stimulation so it is important to keep your dog engaged through play, exercise and learning new skills. Also a good tip is to not punish your dog, alternatively try positive reinforcement with rewards if they refrain from eating faeces to promote good behaviour as well as using distractions to focus your dog’s attention away. Working on commands such as “leave” and “come” will also help you to deter your dog from unwanted behaviour.
It is quite likely that coprophagy is caused by problems with the digestive system, therefore a highly digestible diet could be recommended. Always feed your puppy a good quality food that provides all of the protein, vitamins, minerals other nutrients your dog needs for normal, healthy growth.
People commonly think that this behaviour is caused by under or overfeeding which can reduce the efficiency of the digestive system, therefore monitoring feeding amounts and ensuring the quantity of your feed is correct will help to promote good health in your dog. Weighing the food is a good way to get a more consistently accurate measure rather than going by eye. In addition it is important to note that every dog is individual so you may have to experiment with different foods in order to find the right one for your dog and when starting to tackle coprophagy it would be a good idea to have as little variation in your dog’s diet as possible. Stool eating deterrents can be used to discourage dogs from eating faeces by creating an unappealing smell and taste after the food has been digested.
Also be aware of what your dog is eating on walks or around other animals as eating other animals faeces can be harmful to dogs and can cause further health issues. If you are unsure on what you should be feeding your dog and how much, you can check online for the correct daily feeding amounts for your dog. Keep an eye out for any signs that your dog may be suffering from digestive issues such as poor growth, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation or straining when passing stools, excess gas or flatulence and insufficient weight gain. It also may be necessary to visit your vet if this carries on as your dog may have additional dietary needs or a health issue that needs to be treated. I would recommend visiting your local pet store like Kimi’s Pet Emporium where you can pick up some free samples of different foods to try out!