Spending a lot of time with your dog? Have you noticed if he eats poop? Don’t be surprised. It’s a condition that goes by the name Coprophagia. It’s when the dog eats his own feces. It’s more common in dogs than you think. But that still doesn’t make it any less disgusting, right?
By the end of this article, you’ll know how to stop a dog from eating poop. But before I show you the simple steps, let me give you a brief on why dogs do this? Why does Coprophagia exist?
Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?
1. To Keep Themselves Clean
Some say it’s natural during the time of motherhood. The mother dog will lick the backside of her pup to keep it clean after the pup defecates. You must have seen cats doing this as well. It’s the only way to ensure cleanliness and it’s considered a common maternal behavior.
Seeing this, the pup also starts to eat feces as a way of keeping himself clean. Most puppies grow out of this completely normal habit as they grow older. But there are some that never stop.
2. It Tastes Good
Does your dog eat cat poop? Well, believe it or not, but cat poop is actually high-protein. I’m sure you’ve raised your eyebrows right about now. A cat’s diet contains a higher protein value. And isn’t one’s poop a product of what one eats? There you have it.
A more serious cause of Coprophagia is hunger or food addiction. If you’re depriving your dog of food or if the dog’s malnourished, he’s bound to eat poop. As it is readily available and may even smell of food. Hungry dogs will ingest anything that is remotely food-related.
Some may not even do this out of hunger but food obsession. A dog eating poop is not to gain nutrients, contrary to popular belief. Rather, it’s to fill his tummy due to starvation or food obsession.
If your dog is suffering from indigestion, he may eat his own feces. Especially if what he ingested was pica or inappropriate items. This alters the odor of poop which compels the dog to eat it.
Other digestion-unrelated conditions such as brain damage or dementia. This causes mental disorientation which leads to confusion or forgetfulness. This is a common reason why your dog is eating poop.
There is also such a thing as ‘punishment avoidance’. It’s a disturbing symptom of anxiety or abuse or fear in dogs. When they think defecating is a bad habit and they eat their own feces to hide it from their owners. Sometimes a dog poops where he shouldn’t. And some owners yell or punish their dogs.
So dogs create an inner defense by erasing any proof of such punishment. So when they eat their own feces, their owners never know they pooped and so they avoid punishment.
How to Stop A Dog from Eating Poop Coprophagia?
Now that you know what causes this condition, solving it gets a little bit easier.
Unless this is a medical problem, you can stop your dog from eating poop at home. With correct measures and positive reinforcement, this is possible.
1. Keep it clean
The first thing to do is to keep the house and yard clean. Make sure you leave no trace of animal waste behind. Don’t let dog poop stay even after your dog poops. Pick it up immediately. This displays the correct attitude towards poop in front of your dog.
In fact, when you’re cleaning after your dog’s poop, make sure he’s around.
2. Stay alert
To start with, take your dog out on a leash to defecate. So as soon as you see him going after his poop, you can gently hold him back. Never turn your attention away from your dog while he’s pooping. Dogs are quite clever and quick.
3. Reward for good behavior
Positive reinforcement is when you reward your dog for every good act. For example, give him a treat after diverting his attention away from his poop after. As soon as he looks at you when you call him, give him a treat and a pat on the head or neck.
Commands like “look here” or “leave it” are perfect for training your dog how to stop eating poop.
4. Change diet
Don’t do this without consulting with the vet first. You can add new syrup or something that changes the taste of poop. It’s completely natural and effective. When you do that, your dog will avoid smelling or even going near his poop.
So if your dog has many allergies, avoid taking this step. Even though the syrup is harmless, it may aggravate sensitivity in allergic dogs. Look for terms like “For-Bid” and “Deter” on the product. That’s when you know it’s for dogs and it’s certified.
Professionals call this taste-aversion product. Ingredients like garlic, parsley, or chamomile do the trick effectively!
You can also change the diet using vitamin supplements. Your dog may be deficient in vitamin B which is an important nutrient. It helps in digestion and nutrient metabolism. So it can be possible your dog is eating his own feces due to malnutrition or deficiency.
Ask your doctor which is the most promising and healthy vitamin B supplement. Anything that fulfills your dog’s dietary needs for proper metabolic functioning. So the temptation or necessity to eat poop dies right away!
Perhaps the only way you can stop Coprophagia is by paying attention to your dog. Sometimes, it’s the little things that count. Like keeping your house clean, paying attention to your dog’s diet, or training.
Dogs that haven’t been trained correctly since puppyhood can develop such habits. Make sure you feed the dog well, keep him active, and healthy. This reduces stress, anxiety, and fear if you positively reinforce good habits.
How to stop a dog from eating poop or coprophagia is a common problem. There’s nothing seriously wrong with your dog. Even if he has a medical condition, it can be sorted out with proper health check-ups and medication.
Now, you know the reasons why your dog could be eating poop. And what you can do about it even without consulting a vet. These are all home remedies that demand your time and attention.