August 10, 2010

Why Does My Dog Eat Feces?

Filed under: Dog Behavior — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:07 am

dog habits eating fecesWe’ve all seen some dogs eat feces and wondered what that’s all about.  This condition, also known as coprophagia, occurs when a dog eats its own feces or the feces of another dog or animal.  While the reasons for coprophagia in dogs are generally unclear, the condition has been associated with various medical problems.  For example, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, overfeeding, and malabsorption are all possible causes of fecal consumption in dogs.  Moreover, many researchers have also suggested that coprophagia in dogs is associated with a variety of behavioral problems and may be the result of attention seeking.

There has actually been little research into why dogs eat feces.  Coprophagia has been associated with higher levels of anxiety and stress or it may be the result of evolved scavenger behaviors.  Some researchers even suggest that dogs that have been punished for defecating in the past are more likely to engage in eating feces.  Even hunger may explain why your dog is eating feces.

Whatever the reason for coprophagia may be, it’s not surprising that dog owners wish the behavior would stop.  In fact, it can be very difficult to train your dog not to eat feces because he will likely do it when you are not present.  Still, a well organized training plan that reinforces positive behaviors and encourages dogs not to eat feces can be effective.  Some veterinarians also recommend adding a meat tenderizer to dog food because their feces will taste extremely bad.  Similarly, there are a number of food additives that cause the feces to smell excessively putrid to dogs making it very unlikely that they’ll eat the feces.  You can even add hot sauce or other additives to the feces that dogs don’t enjoy.  Finally, to prevent your dog from eating feces, be sure to clean up dropping around the yard to deny them access to eat it.

About Dr. Amber Reed

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