Coprophagia may have several causes, some being medical and some behavioral. In some cases, the medical problem may actually be with the producer of the feces, and not the dog eating it. While in other cases, the dog’s own digestion may be the issue. If the coprophagia is a behavioral issue, it could have been learned from infancy, or it could be an emotional compulsive behavior caused by outside stresses. It could even be caused by a combination of both.
Medical Causes of Coprophagia
Malabsorption Syndrome has been identified as a possible cause for coprophagia. The syndrome results in dogs having an increased appetite, to the point of eating feces in an attempt to gain nutrition. Dogs with malabsorption syndrome may have more enticing stool with undigested bits of food in it, causing coprophagia.
Corticosteroid Therapyand Cushing’s Disease have both been identified as possible causes of coprophagia. The exact science behind this behavior is unknown, but anything that may cause increased appetite can make coprophagia more likely.
Malnourishment may cause a dog eat feces, especially if it is from another animal. Some believe that herbivore feces are tastier to dogs than any other. A malnourished dog may consider herbivore feces to be a way to stay alive. Feces that may contain whole food particles may also be attractive to a hungry pup.
Behavioral Causes of Coprophagia
Mimicking Mother is a very likely cause of coprophagia in young puppies. Puppies learn about how to do things and handle situations based on what they see their mother do. When puppies are newborns, they do not have the ability to trigger defecation on their own, so the mother dog licks their behind to stimulate the excretion. She will ingest the feces, and in the process keeps the immediate environment free of odors that might attract predators. Fortunately, the puppies that learn this behavior often outgrow it.
Stress is thought to be the main cause of compulsive coprophagia. If a puppy is punished too harshly for having an accident indoors, often the emotional compulsion becomes to eat the feces to avoid the stress of being over-punished. Any trauma or stress can result in coprophagia, if the animal is not able to emotional handle the situation.
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.