Coprophagia in the animal kingdom is not such a rare occurrence. Love for excrement is also noted among human four-legged friends. Why does a dog eat excrement? No one can give an exact answer, since there are many reasons, but special scientific studies of this issue have not been carried out. So we can only guess where such extravagant food addictions come from in dogs.
Reasons for Dog Eating Poop
Scientists have a few thoughts on this.
Version one: it is believed that in this way dogs replenish their diet with necessary micronutrients.
Yes, owners notice that animals that are chained often eat their own excrement, especially if they forget to feed them. In the wild, members of the canine family eat the feces of other animals during times of famine. This is especially true for individuals who are weakened and sick, who cannot hunt to get their own food.
In addition, predators in nature, unable to extract useful substances from plant food, eat the excrement of herbivores – a source of fermented greens. But why do pets fed with selected, balanced food eat feces of not only herbivores, but also the same predators and even humans?
Perhaps – this is the result of “genetic memory” – the need for such an addition to the main diet has disappeared, but somewhere in the depths of the dog’s body sits his predatory ancestor, which requires such “vitamins”.
Second version: coprophagia – a memory of wild life.
Females of wild animals eat the calves’ feces so as not to reveal the location of the den. In addition, this is how the female keeps her burrow clean. Puppies eat feces in imitation of their mother, and this can develop into a bad habit over time. Animals kept in the aviary eat their feces when the “dwelling” is not cleaned for a long time.
Version three: imbalance of microflora in the dog’s digestive system.
This assumption is logical, since the faeces of an animal contain enzymes, enzymes, hormones and microorganisms necessary for normal digestion. This behavior often affects puppies who have not yet developed a digestive function.
Version four: Coprophagia is the result of stress.
Obviously, behavioral abnormalities can be the cause of psychological trauma, prolonged stress or the desire to draw attention to yourself. If the owner brings up his pet too strictly, then eating feces may be an attempt to hide the “traces of crime” when the animal did not endure to the street.
It is believed that eating piles may lead to the fact that the beloved owner cleans up his pet’s feces for a walk. To help the owner maintain order, the dog eats excrement and, thus, shows his love and devotion.
Version five: Eating droppings is the result of a lack of attention.
With a lack of attention, the animal tries to attract the attention of the owner with its “deviant” behavior. Thus, we can say that psychoemotional causes underlie coprophagia in animals.
Version six: coprophagia is a sign of submission.
In a pack of dogs, weaker individuals eat the faeces of the leaders, showing their submission to their authority.
Version seven: Dogs just love the taste of excrement.
As a rule, this version sounds with interspecies coprophagy. Especially often dogs eat the feces of cats living with them in the same apartment. Dog breeders note that some dog breeds are more prone to coprophagia. What is the reason? Perhaps in the ancestors of these animals. Some breeds were bred from scavengers, despite long-term selection work, gene memory periodically makes these dogs eat not only feces, but also rotten meat, corpses of rodents, etc.
According to statistics, 16% of dogs of different breeds suffer from an unpleasant habit, 85% of them have such a “strangeness” periodically. But there is one breed that will never eat feces – this is a miniature poodle.
Types of coprophagia in dogs
The types of coprophagia are distinguished, depending on whose excrement the animal eats:
- autocoprophagia – eating a dog’s own feces;
- intraspecific coprophagia – when a dog eats feces of animals of its own kind;
- interspecies coprophagia – eating the excrement of other animals – cats, deer, horses, etc.
It is impossible to name the exact reason for this behavior, but such an anomaly causes not only concern and disgust among the owners. Eating feces can lead to serious pathologies in a pet.
Diseases due to coprophagia
The most common cause of infection with various parasites can be the droppings of wild or domestic animals infected with helminths. Feline feces are especially dangerous for the health of the dog. They can become a source of Toxoplasma, which in dogs causes damage to all organs, including the central nervous system. Feces can also become a source of serious viral diseases such as hepatitis and parvovirus infection.
See what vitamins and grains you can give your dogs.
Possible treatment options
There is no specific algorithm for the behavior of the owner of the animal, since there is no clear understanding of the reasons for the pathological behavior of the dog. However, experienced dog breeders advise adhering to the following rules:
- Food processing with special enzymes that provide better digestion or the addition of probiotics to food, which normalizes the composition of the intestinal microflora.
- Introduction to the diet of special vitamin and mineral complexes that can compensate for the lack of trace elements and vitamins.
- Adding substances or drugs to food that safely change the taste and smell of stool. One of the means of this group is the drug Forbid. This is a dietary supplement that can only be obtained from a veterinary pharmacy with a doctor’s prescription. Its counterpart in mode of action is the Deter tool. It can be purchased without a prescription. Both supplements are completely safe for the animal, but their effectiveness only works for intraspecific coprophagy. They also use different bitterness, seasonings and additives with a pungent, pungent or sour taste. Long-term use of, for example, mustard or red pepper will discourage your pet from absorbing excrement. Certain inconveniences are created by the need to process all heaps of feces, both at home and on a walk.
- It is not recommended to punish a dog for a fault, because shouting, punishment, can provoke stress or reinforce such an addiction due to fear of punishment or a desire to please the owner.
- Do not go to extremes and ignore the dog’s behavior. This tactic can only work if the animal is trying to attract the attention of the owner by coprophagy. In this case, the reward for the animal is more likely to work, which follows the command and leaves the heap.
- The most effective tactic is concealment. If the owner cleans the tray or removes excrement in a timely manner, then the problem itself will disappear.
- The prevention of eating feces is a mechanical obstacle – a muzzle. If the dog can feel comfortable for a long time in a muzzle, then you can put it on before a walk and walk the dog in it.
- Foods that can cure an animal of coprophages are pumpkin seeds, pineapple, mint, anise, papaya, etc. To prevent the dog from eating feces for saturation, you need to feed him 2 times a day.
- You can just wait. As a rule, in puppies, coprophagia passes by a certain age, etc.
It has become clear from practice that the most effective technique for stopping coprophages is a combination of reward for refusing to eat and timely cleaning of feces.
Patient and attentive attitude to the animal will help to gradually relieve him of eating feces, and the owner from unpleasant moments during a walk.