Why Do Dogs Eat Poop & How To Stop This Behavior

Dog house owners witnessing their pets eating their own fecal matter often swoop in and make their dog cease eating poop instantly. Nevertheless, if they knew why canine eat poop, they may not view this conduct as something repulsive. In reality, studying about why canine eat poop can provide perception into their dog’s well being and stop a possible illness or disorder from progressing by getting veterinary remedy for their pet.

What is Coprophagia?

The medical term for consuming poop is coprophagia. Based on the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (2012), one out of each six canine are recognized as persistent poop eaters and almost 25 % of canine are caught by house owners eating poop at the least one or two occasions. From an evolutionary perspective, animal conduct specialists theorize that immediately’s domesticated canine eat recent fecal matter out of instinct, speculating that ancestral canine (canids) might have eaten their poop (if dropped in the remaining/den area) to guard members of the pack from parasites.

One other concept relating to coprophagia is that coprophagia might be a survival response to ancestral canine dealing with periodic hunger. Different animals are recognized to eat their own poop as properly, resembling rabbits, dung beetles, guinea pigs and rodents, which can lend some help to this concept that eating fecal matter is an instinctual conduct.

Dog house owners should know that coprophagia won’t hurt their dog. It might reinfect them with parasites and infectious pathogens however these entities are already in their system. Nevertheless, eating one other animal’s poop might cause harm to a canine that isn’t infected by pathogens in that animal’s poop. If a canine proprietor sees their canine eating poop that they know doesn’t belong to their dog, they should watch their dog for signs of illness over the subsequent few days.

Why Puppies Eat Poop

Puppies, like human babies, are naturally interested by their surroundings and can explore objects in their setting orally–biting, chewing, licking and, unfortunately, eating their poop. As well as, a pet is more more likely to eat poop if the poop accommodates extra undigested meals than digested food. Puppy house owners ought to contemplate coprophagia in young canine nothing more than a means for pups to study extra about their world. Nevertheless, canine that continue to eat poop beyond their pet years may be suffering a medical or behavioral condition requiring veterinary consideration.

Enzyme Deficiency and Coprophagia in Dogs

The natural canine food regimen is wealthy in protein and digestive enzymes essential for a dog’s intestine health. Domesticated canine at this time do not kill and eat a prey’s flesh and organs. As an alternative, they are given bowls of processed kibble containing too many fillers like corn, soy and wheat and not sufficient protein and enzymes.

Enzymes are microscopic catalysts inflicting chemical reactions. Digestive enzymes break down food so the body can take up food vitamins. Though canine produce enzymes naturally, they do not produce sufficient to completely help digestion. Consequently, they need to get additional enzymes from the meals they eat.

Animal poop accommodates small however negligible quantities of undigested vitamins. Dogs with a digestive enzyme deficiency might “crave” these enzymes and start eating their poop. Different indicators a canine might be suffering an enzyme deficiency embrace:

  • Uncoordinated movements/stability problems
  • Getting drained easily during physical activity
  • Dehydration despite the fact that the canine is consuming water
  • Recurring infections
  • Urge for food modifications
  • Consuming fecal matter

Veterinarians diagnose a digestive enzyme deficiency by performing an entire blood rely, urinalysis and, in some instances, ultrasounds to find out if an enzyme deficiency has provoked organ swelling. Vets additionally check stool samples for evidence of parasites that connect to the intestinal partitions and drain the canine’s body of nutritional vitamins and minerals.

Along with consuming poor quality food, canine can endure digestive enzyme deficiencies and begin consuming their poop as a consequence of thyroid illness, diabetes, Cushing’s disease and being handled with steroids for inflammation and autoimmune illnesses.

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) and Coprophagia in Dogs

Although collies and German Shepherds are more weak to struggling exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, all canine might be recognized with this disease even when they don’t seem to be genetically vulnerable to EPI. When a canine’s pancreas doesn’t launch sufficient digestive enzymes to properly break down proteins, fat and starches, the dog might develop EPI and begin to eat their poop to acquire nutrients they need.

Signs of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency embrace:

  • Weight loss with out change to urge for food
  • Persistent diarrhea/unfastened stools
  • Larger than normal stool measurement/extra fats within the stool
  • Excessive flatulence/gurgling noises in the stomach
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Poor high quality pores and skin and coat

Veterinary remedy for EPI includes giving canine dietary dietary supplements containing pancreatic enzymes. Though weight-reduction plan does not contribute to EPI, canine house owners ought to avoid giving a dog with EPI food that is low in fat and excessive in fiber. About 4 out each 10 canine recognized with EPI are additionally poor in vitamin B12 (cobalamin) and probably vitamin E. Vets may also prescribe special dietary supplements to exchange these vitamins if lowered ranges exist.

Parasites and Coprophagia

Hookworms, roundworms and tapeworms are parasites that reside and feed inside a canine’s intestines. Parasitical worms attach themselves to the within partitions of the intestines because they will easily take in nutrients from digested food as it enters the intestines. Dogs struggling a parasitical infection typically develop coprophagia because these worms remove vitamins from digested foodstuffs before the dog’s physique can take in and utilize them.

Hookworms feed extra on blood than they do on meals and may severely sicken puppies resulting from loss of blood. Puppies could be infected with hookworms by way of nursing while grownup canine eating one other dog’s recent poop can swallow hookworm eggs within the poop. Signs of a hookworm infection embrace weight loss with out modifications in urge for food, diarrhea and basic unwellness.

Roundworms and tapeworms are the most typical worm parasites infecting canine. Veterinarians detect roundworms and tapeworms by analyzing stool samples. Signs of a roundworm or tapeworm an infection in canine embrace diarrhea, coughing, malnourishment, vomiting and frequent poop-eating. Dogs with long-term roundworm/tapeworm infections sometimes endure extremely decreased nutrient levels and dehydration. After treating a roundworm or tapeworm infection with prescription treatment, veterinarians urge canine house owners to start out their pets on parasite preventives to keep away from recurring worm infections.

Heartworms in Poop-Consuming Dogs

A heartworm infestation damages the lungs and heart while sapping a canine of important nutrients. Not all canine with heartworm will eat their poop however it is one thing a veterinarian will examine if a dog is recognized with coprophagia. Signs of a potential heartworm infection in canine embrace:

  • Matches of coughing
  • Sudden lethargy, sleepiness and inactivity
  • Lack of appetite and speedy weight reduction
  • Chest swelling or bulge
  • Problem respiration, straining to breathe
  • Hypertension
  • Appearing dizzy or unsteady (canine in advanced levels of a heartworm an infection might faint)

To diagnose heartworm in canine, vets use a heartworm antigen examination package that detects heartworm proteins in a pet’s blood. Veterinarians want a small sample of blood for detecting heartworm proteins within the blood of an infected canine. Results of heartworm exams are obtained inside 24 hours in order that if the check returns a constructive outcome, your pet can start heartworm remedy instantly.

Because it takes about six months for a heartworm infection to point out a constructive check end result, puppies underneath seven months previous ought to begin taking heartworm treatment even if a heartworm check produces a destructive end result. Your pet should then be re-checked six months later to make sure they do not have heartworm.

Malabsorption and Coprophagia

Malabsorption in canine and different small animals is a digestive dysfunction interfering with an animal’s capacity to soak up vitamins. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is a kind of malabsorption dysfunction inflicting canine to endure malnutrition as a consequence of lack of important nutritional vitamins and minerals within the physique. Any an infection or irritation affecting the small intestine can induce malabsorption and persistent, poop eating in canine.

Other illnesses associated with malabsorption embrace inflammatory bowel illness, enteric (diarrhea) infections, meals sensitivities/allergic reactions and lymphosarcoma. Signs of malabsorption issues embrace weight loss regardless of eating continuously, diarrhea/unfastened stools three to 4 occasions a day and probably vomiting. Pet house owners might discover hair round their canine’s anus appearing oily or greasy. This is because fats are usually not digested as simply as other supplies and will stay largely undigested in stools.

Underfeeding and Coprophagia

Dietary tips for canine offered by the Affiliation of American Feed Management Officials (AAFCO) listing the sort and amount of nutrient canine have to have to take care of their health. Some of these vitamins embrace:

  • Protein – 18 to 22 % (of dietary consumption)
  • Crude fat – 5 to eight %
  • Linoleic acid – 1 %
  • Calcium – 1 to zero.6 %

Meals fed to canine also needs to include less than one % of phosphorous, potassium, sodium, copper, zinc, thiamine and vitamins A, D, E. Relying on a canine’s measurement, activity degree and general health, these tips ought to be adjusted to satisfy a dog’s individual needs.

Anytime canine fail to obtain enough quantities of nutritional vitamins and minerals, they will resort to eating their poop or one other dog’s poop as a result of they instinctively crave these nutrients. As well as, canine house owners may be feeding their canine high-quality pet food containing enough vitamins but will not be feeding their pet sufficient food. This may end up in malnutrition and coprophagia as properly.

Stress and Poop-Consuming in Dogs

In response to dwelling in worrying environments (remoted from people, restrictive cages/confinement, overcrowded shelters), canine might interact in coprophagia as a result of they really feel anxious, bored and depressed. House owners who use harsh strategies for house-training canine can also be the rationale a dog out of the blue starts consuming poop. Identical to individuals turn to unusual or unhealthy behaviors when confused, canine additionally search an outlet for unpleasant, fearful feelings.

Diagnosing Medical Causes of Coprophagia

A noninvasive procedure used to diagnose quite a lot of gastrointestinal issues affecting canine, an endoscopy permits veterinarians to view the interior of a canine’s digestive tract using an imaging sensor gadget introduced by way of the mouth or anus. Detailed pictures of a dog’s esophagus, abdomen and intestines are then transmitted by way of a small digital digital camera hooked up to the endoscope for the aim of creating an correct analysis.

An endoscopy procedure is given to canine suffering from persistent vomiting, diarrhea, blood in the stool or if the canine has swallowed a overseas object. As an alternative of doing exploratory surgical procedure, veterinarians rely on an endoscopy to detect esophageal or stomach ulcers, tumors, polyps or exactly where a overseas object may be situated in an animal’s GI tract. Vets may even have the ability to determine inflammation, scarring or any abnormal narrowing or swelling of a dog’s intestines and colon with out having to operate.

If a suspicious lesion is detected during an endoscopy, veterinarians might carry out a biopsy of the world to accurately diagnose the lesion. Endoscopes have tiny channels via which your vet passes a biopsy device able to taking tissue samples. These samples will then be submitted to an animal pathologist for evaluation.

Illnesses selling coprophagia like gastrointestinal inflammation or cancer may be recognized throughout an endoscopy procedure. Nevertheless, if cancerous tumors are embedded too deeply (past the internal lining of the animal’s colon or abdomen, for example) to be detected by an endoscopic biopsy, it might be potential to overlook the cancer. If dog continues to endure medical signs of cancer after the endoscopy, biopsies may have obtained by way of exploratory surgery.

How is Coprophagia Handled?

The quickest and easiest approach to forestall canine from eating poop is to stop access to poop by maintaining yards and different areas clear of fecal matter. Nevertheless, this does not treat medical issues typically suffered by canine with coprophagia. Taking a poop-eating dog to the veterinarian ought to be the very first thing a dog proprietor does earlier than making an attempt different strategies to stop their canine from eating poop.

Dietary Dietary supplements for Dogs with Coprophagia

If a veterinarian performs an entire bodily exam on a canine that eats poop and doesn’t find evidence of parasites or intestinal issues, they could prescribe one or more of the next:


Containing precise mixtures of micro organism useful to gastrointestinal health, probiotics for canine might help restore a wholesome stability of micro organism in a canine’s gut and enhance digestion and absorption of nutrients. The intestines are house to billions of bacteria-both good and dangerous–that, beneath healthy circumstances, hold each other in stability. If an imbalance occurs (extra “bad” bacteria than “good” micro organism), canine can endure quite a few well being issues starting from diarrhea, infections, malabsorption and, sadly, poop-eating conduct.

Dog house owners giving their pets probiotics should make certain they buy probiotics particularly formulated for canine. Human probiotics are ineffective and could even worsen coprophagia.

Vitamin Supplements

For poop-eating canine suffering vitamin deficiencies resulting from sickness, disease or parasitical infections, vitamin dietary supplements can get rid of a deficiency and promote launch of digestive enzymes essential for breaking down meals. Vitamin B12 is particularly essential to a dog’s digestion. In some instances, veterinarians will give B12 injections to canine severely missing on this vitamin. Thiamine (vitamin B1) is another B vitamin essential for wholesome carbohydrate metabolism, regular progress from pet to adult dog and for transmission of nervous system alerts in a canine’s musculoskeletal system.

Manganese is a nutrient canine have to utilize carbohydrates and proteins for producing fatty acids and enzymes very important for intestinal health, power and brain functioning. Found within the liver, pancreas, bone and kidneys of canine, manganese is particularly wanted to make all kinds of enzymes, together with digestive enzymes. Dogs eating poop that do not current symptoms of illness might profit from enzyme dietary supplements as directed by a veterinarian.

Enzyme Supplements for Dogs

Veterinarians might prescribe canine enzyme supplements for canine with digestive issues accompanied by coprophagia. Along with enhancing digestion and intestinal well being, enzyme supplements additionally provide help for the immune and respiratory system whereas selling cellular metabolism to increase power levels. Enzyme dietary supplements can also assist relieve constipation, fuel and bloating.

Significance of a Healthy Canine Weight-reduction plan

Dog eating dry dog food from a bowl

Domesticated canine are usually not strictly carnivores however omnivores, or animals with the power to adapt to a variable food plan that features grains and greens. Diets composed of 100 % meat are usually not advisable for canine since meat lacks iron and calcium, two minerals essential to good canine vitamin.

A wholesome canine eating regimen that considerably reduces the danger of a dog turning into coprophagic should embrace:

  • Plenty of recent water to help normal functioning of the canine urinary tract system
  • A balanced mixture of moist and dry food. Dry dog food is full of power and should supply dental benefits whereas moist food supplies the fats and protein canine want
  • Required vitamins that embrace vitamin A, vitamin C, dietary fiber, and more from meals (like apples).
  • Minimal quantities of carbohydrates. Too many carbs might promote diabetes and weight problems in less lively canine
  • Important fatty acids, or omega-Three fatty acids (coconut oil is an effective source), for proper cell functioning, maintaining a shiny and wholesome coat and decreasing the danger of vision problems as canine age

Another necessary a part of good dog vitamin is protein. Not solely does protein nourish and help body tissues nevertheless it additionally:

  • Helps pores and skin, hair, nail and eye health
  • Converts to glucose in the dog’s physique. Glucose is a main power supply that also will help scale back fats storage in older canine
  • Powers enzymes wanted for hemoglobin synthesis and immune system functioning

Recommendation for Entertaining Bored Dogs (So They Depart Their Poop Alone!)

Bored dog laying on soft carpet

If a canine is given a clear invoice of health by a veterinarian, poop eating might merely be a sign of a hyperactive, bored canine. Since being outdoor makes all canine joyful, making sure canine vulnerable to consuming poop for no medical purpose spend as a lot time as attainable outdoor might help get rid of this conduct. Relying on the breed of canine an owner has, walking a dog at the very least twice if not 3 times a day might be one of the best type of exercise for canine.

Indoor actions for canine that pay too much consideration to their poop embrace building a tunnel out of previous cardboard and putting objects in it for the dog to seek out, wrapping treats in an previous rag and hiding the bundle somewhere that the dog can discover without a lot hassle and letting a canine watch their proprietor put a deal with beneath a bowl or other container and inspiring the dog to determine how you can get the deal with.

Poop consuming in canine may be stopped however only after house owners have had their canine bear an entire bodily exam, blood and urine testing. Figuring out if poop eating is psychological can then be thought-about by veterinarians and apprehensive canine house owners.

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Disclaimer: the advice and knowledge in this article isn’t meant for use as a alternative for professional medical recommendation from a veterinarian.