Why does my dog eat its feces
Canine coprophagia occurs when a dog frequently eats its own feces or that of other dogs. Overall, this is a common practice among puppies when they are still adapting to their new home or are in the training process. However, there are many adult dogs who eat their own poop, but why? Like all unusual behaviour, there are a number of causes that can lead our dog to doing this act so rejected by its owners. Read on and learn why your dog eats its feces.
One of the most common causes that can lead to a puppy eating its own feces is a fear of punishment. When the owner teaches the dog to defecate where they want it to by using negative conditioning, i.e., through violent punishments when they do it wrong, the puppy goes into a state of terror that leads them to hiding their bad behaviour by eating their feces.
Related to this, another cause of canine coprofagia is the incorrect and popularised practice of teaching dogs to do their business by rubbing their nose in the feces or urine. By doing this we are encouraging the puppy to eat its own feces.
When an adult dog eats its feces, one of the most common reasons is separation anxiety. Dogs with this disorder tend to have a number of methods to try to get the attention of their owners, so coprophagia can be a response to their state of anxiety.
To a lesser extent, another cause of why your dog is eating their feces is a nutritional deficiency. This happens especially when a dog has trouble getting enough nutrients from its food due to an infection in the pancreas or another more serious problem. When it notices that its body is not getting what it needs, it instinctively eats its feces to fill the gap. In these cases it is important to see your veterinarian to find the source of the problem.
In cases where the dogs do not eat the daily amount of food they need or eat food of poor quality, it is likely for them to practice coprophagia because it feels hungry. That is why it is so important to pay attention to their basic care and feed them according to their needs. Another of the most common causes is imitation. This means that if your dog or puppy has observed another dog eating its stool, it will imitate the dog doing this.
Finally, older dogs with difficulties controlling their sphincters may eat their feces from fear of the reaction of their owners. In these cases it is important to see the dog in this new condition caused by age, and not punish it so it will therefore not have to hide the evidence by eating it.
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If your dog has coprofagia and you have identified one of the above causes, know that it is treatable and you can correct this behaviour. Your vet can also help you and your dog get over coprofagia too.
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