Coprophagia is the name given to the habit of eating poo, mainly seen in younger dogs but it can become a habit. Although an unpleasant practice it is a common one, and at Dorwest we receive many calls asking for advice on the subject. So to help understand and hopefully eradicate the problem we have put together the following information, tips and advice.
- Feeding a dried food diet, especially one that contains strong flavourings that may pass through the system unaltered, making it as attractive at the other end as it was in the bowl! For dogs that eat their own poo, it is worth considering changing to a more natural diet without these additives.
- Another cause may be boredom or inquisitiveness, especially in younger dogs and those in kennels who may not have enough to occupy them. With close supervision and plenty of other stimulation, most young dogs grow out of this habit.
- The diet may be lacking in minerals or trace elements and dogs may therefore look for these from other sources.
- Or, there may be a medical reason, dogs with malabsorption syndrome have a ravenous appetite and eat stools in an attempt to acquire additional calories. In addition, any condition that might cause an increase in appetite or an unusual appetite, such as diabetes, Cushing’s disease, thyroid disease or treatment with certain drugs such as steroids.
Tips and Advice
- Adding pineapple chunks to the feed has been found to be helpful, as an enzyme in the fruit seems to act as an effective deterrent at the other end! Also courgettes and even tomato ketchup are reported to have the same effect and so are worth trying.
- Regular exercise, companionship and a selection of toys will help keep boredom at bay.
- To make sure that no minerals or vitamins are missing from the diet, add a good all round herbal supplement such as Keeper’s Mix ® to ensure that all the necessary minerals and vitamins required for good health are provided.
- Key ingredients such as Kelp Seaweed, Celery seeds, Psyllium husks, Clivers and Wild Yam contain a mix of potent anti-oxidants, nutritional elements and vitamins.
- If your dog always seems hungry and you suspect this may be due to an underlying medical condition, always consult your vet.
- Coprophagia can easily become a habit so it is essential to prevent access to stools by cleaning them up immediately and by keeping clean the dog’s housing and areas they have access to.