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Why will my dog eat poop?

Why will my dog eat poop?

It is quite upsetting for pet owners to see their pet ingesting their own faeces, housemate’s faeces or other animal’s faeces. We call this behavior cophrophagia. This behavior is normal behavior, but for us  it is unacceptable behavior.

Causes of coprohagia:

  • Polyphagia (increased hunger due to a medical condition), in certain medical conditions eg diabetes, hypothyroid, Cushing’s disease or the use of steroids
  • Unbalanced diets will make dogs seek out fecal material to aid in supplementation.
  • Internal parasites eg worms causes a higher burden on your animal.Due to a lack of proper nutrition they may start eating stool
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI). Due to a lack of digestive enzymes, dogs will start eating stool to gain additional nutrition. Other symptoms will include diarrhea and weight loss.
  • The gut may be unable to absorb all the wanted nutrients and the dog will eat faeces for extra nutrients.
  • Maternal behavior. The bitch will stimulate puppies to defecate and urinate. She will also ingest the excrement to keep the nesting area clean.
  • Young animals will ingest faeces as part of their exploratory behavior. They are very curious at this age.
  • Some animals will ingest faeces to keep them and their area clean.
  • Scavenging behavior. Dogs are naturally attracted to scent. Thus if the opportunity present itself they may eat faeces.
  • A lack of stimulation , quality time with owner and being left alone the whole day may cause your dog to start eating faeces.
  • Puppies in a deprived environment eg puppy mills, puppy being kenneled for a long time will start eating faeces.
  • Mimicking behaviour of another dog eating faeces.Puppy see puppy do!!!
  • Punishment for defecation, in unwanted areas, may lead to your dog hiding his faeces from you, and therefor ingest it.
  • Dogs respond on our ques. If they interpret our response as positive when eating faeces they will repeat it.
  • As a coping mechanism when severely anxious.
  • A symptom of a compulsive disorder.

As is evident from the above there are various reasons for dogs ingestion stool.

What can you do to prevent coprohagia?

  • Cleanliness cleanliness cleanliness. Pick up faeces at least once a day!
  • Provide an area rich in stimulation for your pet especially when you are not there.
  • Never punish your pet for defecating in the house.
  • Provide a veterinary approved diet with all the nutrients your pet require.
  • Keep your pet free from internal parasites by deworming at least once every 3 months.

If despite the above actions your pet still ingest faeces seek veterinary help.


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