By Arlo the Hound with help from Honor Tarpenning
Coprophagia is the term for a dog’s tendency to eat their own waste.
There are a lot of theories as to why some dogs do this. No one really
knows exactly why they do it, but many experts believe that there are
several reasons and that different dogs do it for different reasons.
Deficiency in the Diet
Some dogs might eat their own waste because there are vital nutrients missing from their diet. They seek out the nutrients they need by eating waste, and might also eat dirt, rocks or vegetation.
Dogs who don’t have enough to keep them busy, or who do not get enough exercise might eat their waste for novelty’s sake. This can happen to dogs who are stuck outside all the time, chained up, or left home alone for long periods of time without ways to entertain themselves or release their extra energy.
In the wild, predators can find animal’s dens by their smell. Some believe that domesticated dogs have maintained the urge to protect their living space by removing waste so that a predator will not smell it and track his family.
Parasites rob your dog’s bodies of vital nutrients. As mentioned before, dogs craving nutrients might eat their waste.
Dogs who do not get enough to eat might eat their waste to satiate their hunger. This can also happen in dogs who are being fed enough, but only once a day. Their nutritional needs are being met, but they feel the need to eat again, so they eat their waste.
See the Vet
The first step is to rule out any possible medical causes for your dog’s coprophagia. If your dog is lacking nutrients, or has a parasite, your vet can diagnose the problem and help you decide how to treat it.
Higher Quality Dog Food
Your dog may just be in need of a higher quality dog food. Avoid foods that are extremely inexpensive. Talk to your vet about how to read the label of your dog food and what the important ingredients are. Avoid foods that are full of filler and contain little protein and nutrients.
Your vet might recommend vitamins to supplement your dog’s diet. There are also supplements you can purchase over the counter that make your dog’s waste taste unappealing to him to help discourage him from eating it.
Feed Twice a Day
If you only feed your dog once a day, try dividing his food into two meals. He may just want something to eat later in the day.
Walking your dog twice a day can make a huge difference in both his coprophagia and his behavior in general. He will be able to make good use of his excess energy and relieve his boredom. If you walk him until he is tired, he will be a lot less likely to seek out ways to entertain himself.
Pick it Up
Picking up the waste is a HUGE step to getting your pooch to kick the habit. Keep your yard clear of waste and your dog won’t have the chance to eat it. You can purchase a dog waste septic system called a Doggie Doolie. It is a small tank you bury in your yard, with a foot pedal that opens the top. It is filled with digester and when you drop the waste in, enzymes break down the waste into environmentally safe liquid and it seeps out into the ground. Read more about Why You Should Pick Up After Your Dog
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