Description

Animal consumption of their own feces (coprophagia) or those of other members of the same species, is common in some species, but should be considered abnormal behavior in dogs.

Urgency

Urgency level 2

Danger

Danger level 1

Course

Along with the obvious symptom of a dog eating its own feces, known technically as coprophagia, additional symptoms may be present if the behavior is due to an underlying disease. Consuming feces is not entirely harmless for dogs. By doing so he/she can accidentally acquire parasites or a bacterial infection, which will lead to further complaints.

Cause

Coprophagia in dogs is considered abnormal behavior. This is because they are not required to replace a lack of nutrition by eating feces. The exact cause of this behavior is unknown. Puppies occasionally show coprophagia, although this is considered to be mostly the result of curiosity. In female dogs with a litter, eating feces may be seen as an attempt to keep the nest clean and protect her offspring from infection. If an adult dog is showing coprophagia this should be considered abnormal behavior and cause for concern. It is more commonly seen in dogs restricted to small kennels. Gastrointestinal problems, conditions affecting the pancreas, digestive disorders, parasites, or psychological factors such as boredom, can be triggering causes. Furthermore, coprophagia can occur in dogs with an unbalanced diet, that has an insufficient intake of vitamins, fiber or trace minerals. It can also be the result of treatment with medication that poses a high chemical burden on the dog.

Therapy

If an adult dog is eating feces, a thorough clinical examination should be performed in order to rule out possible underlying causes. If found, they will have to be treated accordingly. Switching to a more balanced diet might be necessary. Your vet can help you to choose a suitable product.

Emergency measures

Allow your dog some time to grow out of the habit. Behavior abnormalities often disappear by themselves. If this should not be the case, consult your vet. In order to prevent possible behavior abnormalities such as coprophagia before they occur you must maintain a hygienic environment for your dog. Feces of non house-trained puppies should be removed immediately. Also, providing a balanced diet and sufficient exercise is very important in preventing coprophagia.