When dealing with a dog that is prone to coprophagia, it is important to keep in mind that it is a natural behavior, and one often learned as a very young pup. While you may find it repulsive, your dog does not understand, and should be treated with care. These five facts may help you understand and deal with coprophagia in a healthy effective manner.
1. It Originates as a Survival Behavior
When mother dogs give birth to a litter of puppies, her goal is to keep them as safe as she can. Even though dogs have been domesticated, their survival instincts are still strong. Consuming the feces of her newborn puppies is a way for her to protect them against predators, by reducing the presence of odors. Because puppies learn everything from their mother early on, this behavior may be mimicked.
2. It’s Worth a Visit to the Vet
Some dogs are prone to coprophagia because their bodies are not functioning properly, and they feel they must eat everything they can. A visit with your veterinarian for testing may help lead to an accurate diagnosis and treatment, resulting in a lessened desire for you dog to eat feces.
3. It’s not a High Risk Behavior
If your dog is protected against intestinal parasites, and is not consuming kitty litter, the act of coprophagia has very little negative impact on the dog. The main problem with coprophagia is that humans find it to be disgusting. In fact, dogs used to be put down for this behavior. It is understandable to be disgusted, but it is a natural behavior for dogs, and with the proper care and treatment, the behavior can be neutralized.
4. Keep it Clean
No matter the cause of coprophagia, the best and most effective way to prevent this behavior is to keep your dog’s environment free of stool. Pick up behind them on a regular basis, and remove any feces that may be from other animals as well. This may not be your favorite activity, but the results will be beneficial to the goal of keeping coprophagia at bay.
5. Address it Early and Often
If possible, the best time to train your dog out of coprophagia is when you first notice. The longer your dog is acting on this desire, the harder it may be to get them to forget about it. Puppies often grow out of it on their own, but early training can help ensure the behavior is ended.
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.