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Posted on 10-08-2015
Our dogs do many things that make us smile. They give kisses, wag their tails when they see us, perform tricks and run crazy loops through the living room. They also do things that make us unhappy. And even things that gross us out. Like rolling in dead things or, even worse, eating poop.
Yes, that’s right, we are bringing the taboo subject of poop-eating into the light. Because the simple fact is, you probably know a dog that eats poop. You may even live with a dog that eats poop. It’s a very common canine behavior. Whether from the diaper pail, the cat litter box, the yard or the dog park, poop seems to be on the menu for many of our canine friends. And calling it by its medical term, “coprophagia,” does not make it any more palatable.
The first question people usually ask about coprophagia is “why?” Why do dogs eat poop? The simple answer is that coprophagia is a normal behavior in many species including dogs. Mother dogs lick their nursing puppies’ bottoms to stimulate them to defecate and then ingest the poop to help keep the nest clean. Puppies commonly eat poop, perhaps as a part of investigating their environment, but usually outgrow the behavior. In adult dogs, poop-eating may be a remnant of wild canine instinct to eat the poop of prey animals for the plant nutrients. Or it may just be a compulsive behavior or a nasty habit.
The second question people ask about poop-eating is “how do I make it stop?” Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to that question. Coprophagia can be a challenging behavior to resolve. The first step is a good physical exam by a veterinarian to check for medical conditions such as parasites or malnutrition that may contribute to coprophagy. If your dog checks out okay physically, your veterinarian may offer some of the following suggestions for dealing with this behavior.
In some cases, a consultation with a veterinary behaviorist or dog trainer is needed to make a plan to address and manage this behavior. While it can be frustrating, it is very important to persevere; coprophagia is not just a nuisance, it’s also a health concern as poop may contain bacteria and parasites that can infect your dog and possibly even your family. If you are dealing with this unsavory behavior, please call us for help right away.
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