Copraphagia is the term used when animals eat there own poop! Although unpleasant to think about its a very common behavior in several species and even a necessity in others. There are many theories on why you pup likes to eat his or her own’s feces or even the feces of other animals. Here are some of the most recent beliefs from veterinarians.
Theory #1: Scavengers
Before dogs were domesticated they were living off of whatever they could find, including the waste of other dogs and animals.
Theory #2: Only Natural
Eating poop is instinctual and completely normal. For example a mother will eat the feces of her newborn pups to keep den clean and hide their scent so as not to attract predators. Or when multiple dogs are in the same household and one gets sick, the healthy dog will sometimes eat the feces of the unhealthy dog, to hide the weaker dog from “predators.”
Theory #3: Power Struggle
Submissive dogs will sometimes eat the stool of the dominate dog in the house.
Theory #4: House Breaking
If a dog is punished for a housebreaking accident and has his/her nose rubbed in poop they may try to “dispose of the evidence” the next time around. Or maybe they see you cleaning up and try to copy your actions by “picking up after himself”. Lastly if a dog’s living area is not kept clean, some dogs will resort to their own “housekeeping” by eating stool.
Theory #5: Learned Behavior
Your dog might also see other dogs eating poop and learn the behavior from them.
Theory #6: Nutrition
Some veterinary nutritionists have suggested that dogs eat stool to replenish enzymes so that they are better prepared to digest their food or that they aren’t getting enough of certain nutrients like vitamin B. However a dog that is overfed can’t absorb all of the nutrients in their food and then may try to “recycle” the nutrient rich waste.
Theory #7: Attention
Many dogs will eat stool simply for the attention that they get from their owner, even if its negative. Dogs that are bored and lonely may play with and eat stool as a pastime.
Theory #8 Medical
Some dogs will start eating poop due to medical conditions that interfere with absorbing nutrients such as if they have parasites or issues with their pancreas.
If your dog is eating his/her stool please contact Meadowlands Veterinary Hospital at 201-646-2008 or visit us at http://www.meadowlandsvethospital.com to have him/her checked out medically and to discuss the best options to stop this unwanted behavior!