The medical term for eating feces is Coprophagia. There are many reasons why your dog eats poop. Some of the reasons are physical and some could be psychological. Once you know the probable causes of Coprophagia, you can help your dog stop this unpleasant behavior.
Medical causes for eating feces
Eating poop could be caused by medical problems in a c. The Douglas Island Veterinary Service says that pancreatitis, infections in the dog’s intestine, the inability to absorb nutrients, or feeding your dog a high fat diet can possible cause your dog to eat stools. Coprophagia is not the only symptom of these diseases. If your dog is not exhibiting any other health issues, especially diarrhea, then eating feces is probably a behavioral issue.
Behavioral causes for eating feces
Seeking Attention – Usually, when your dog eats poo, you reprimand him. You either pull your dog away from the feces or actually lecture him how disgusting it is to eat poop. It’s probably the most effective way for your dog to get your attention. Your lecture has the opposite effect than you intended. The dog eats more poop to get more attention from you.
Imitating – Dogs are intelligent animals and want to please their owners. When your dog sees you picking up poop in a doggie bag, she learns to do the same thing.
Learned – Your dog could learn coprophagia from other dogs. Maybe your dog saw the neighbor’s dog or another dog at a dog park eating feces and copied the behavior.
Maternal – When a mother dog delivers puppies, it is perfectly normal for her to eat the feces of her puppies. She is keeping her puppies and the whelping box clean. It is also believed that mother dogs eat feces to prevent predators from smelling the puppies.
Dominance – Many times, a submissive dog will eat the poop dominant dogs, especially when they are living in the same house.
Hunger – Many dog owners feed their dogs once per day. It could be that your dog needs to eat several small meals each day and is supplementing his only meal with feces.
There are no definitive treatments for dogs eating poop but there are some methods that seem to help.
Treat the Food – Adding enzymes to your dog’s diet help break down nutrients so the dog gets more nutrition, not needing to supplement with feces. Meat tenderizer is a common ingredient that can provide enzymes to your dog’s diet.
Treat the Feces – After your dog has a bowel movement, don’t pick it up right away. Pour hot sauce or other bad tasting product on the poop. When your dog eats the feces, he will soon learn that it is not a tasty treat and will stop the behavior.
Pick up the Feces – Picking up the poop right after your dog eliminates helps break the habit of eating feces. This is the most effective method found by dog owners. If you are unable to go outside with your dog and pick up the poop right away, put a muzzle on him so he can’t eat it. Go outside as soon as you can and pick up the dog’s poop, and then remove the muzzle. This will also break the cycle.
Avoid Punishment – Punishment never works to prevent coprophagia. The dog only knows that he is getting attention and does not associate the scolding with not eating his poop. It is a waste of time and energy to try and stop the behavior with punishment.
Positive Reinforcement – When you notice your dog start to eat feces, tell him to ‘leave it’ , ‘come’, or ‘sit’, whichever command he is most familiar with. If your dog responds to the command, give him a treat and praise. Quickly, pick up the poop and distract the dog with some other activity.
Resource: Douglas Island Veterinary Service: Coprophagia in the Canine