Coprophagia is a poop-eating habit. It is typical behavior in dogs for many reasons, including curiosity, need for attention and medical problems. Even though several reasons are behavioral, the rest may be signs of underlying medical issues that cause this behavior.
Behavioral Reasons That Cause Coprophagia
Even if this behavior is typical for dogs, it is still unsanitary and potentially harmful for them. According to PetMD, the behavioral reasons for dogs eating poop can be:
Nursing dogs cleaning their babies and den
Fear of punishment
Your dog is anxious
The dog likes the taste or texture of the poop they are eating
Your dog is bored or is seeking your attention
Medical Reasons That May Trigger Coprophagia
According to VCA ANIMAL HOSPITALS, when an adult dog suddenly begins eating their poop or another dog's poop, it may be a sign of an underlying medical issue. It can be nutritional deficiencies or malabsorption of nutrients (maybe because of digestive enzyme deficiency). More medical conditions that trigger coprophagia are:
Intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, or whipworms take away nutrients from your dog's diet and can cause malabsorption, which leads to coprophagia.
These medical conditions can cause an increase in appetite, and consequently, your dog eats their poop.
Preventing Coprophagia: How to Get a Dog to Stop Eating Poop?
How do you get a dog to stop eating poop? The answer would be by discouraging and training your dog to not eat poop as it is unhealthy. The first step is to get your dog checked with the veterinarian and rule out any medical condition.
How to get a dog to stop eating their poop?
Firstly, it is crucial to know how to get a dog to stop eating its poop, starting with making poop inaccessible. If it is your dog's stool, the best way is to clean up immediately after they defecate. Accompany your dog whenever it goes out to poop.
Most adult dogs learn to eat their poop because they fear punishment for an accident such as defecating inside the home. Therefore, take diligent measures to stop your dog from getting access to their poop. You can offer them treats or praise them, and while they are busy munching on it, you get rid of their poop.
How to get a dog to stop eating cat poop?
If it is another animal's poop, be vigilant and train your dog using treats as a positive reinforcement.
If you have both animals as pets, that makes the cat poop accessible to your dog. So, to get your dog to stop eating cat poop, set up a pet gate to keep your dog out of the room and cat's litter, or place your cat's litter box out of your dog’s reach.
Home Remedies and Supplements to Reduce Coprophagia in Dogs
It’s important to start at home. If you are wondering about how do you get a dog to stop eating poop home remedies are available.
Changing the Diet
Changing your dog's diet to a more digestible one or diet with various protein sources is essential to treat malabsorption and nutritional deficiencies. It will help them stop getting nutrients from unsanitary places.
Introducing Apple Cider Vinegar
Your adult dog may have hydrochloric acid deficiency. Adding one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to their food may help.
Digestive Enzyme Supplements
You can also prevent your dog from eating poop by adding a digestive enzyme for better nutrient digestion.
Introducing Pumpkin in Their Diet
Pumpkin is also a great supplement for your dog’s diet. It helps with problems like constipation and diarrhea.
Training Techniques to Stop Coprophagia in Dogs
When a dog learns certain behavior, it usually becomes a habit, and a more persistent one. Now, if you have checked everything that may be missing from your dog's diet and added supplements to it, and yet your dog eats poop.
The training techniques for how to get a dog to stop eating poop include training your dog to leave the poop, distracting and providing alternate activities, and associating poop eating with negative consequences.
'Leave it' Approach
Command your dog to leave the poop alone by saying “leave it” firmly and calmly, and when they obey, present them with treats. It helps discourage the behavior through positive reinforcement.
Distracting and Providing Alternate Activities
If you see your dog eating poop, you can distract them by diverting their attention toward more engrossing alternatives like presenting treats or a toy they love to play with.
The Negative Association Method
In this technique, you relate eating poop with negative consequences. Unlike punishment, here you treat poop with a non-toxic deterrent carefully. Then let your dog eat the poop, carrying a bad taste and smell. It will teach your dog to associate poop with horrid taste and smell.
If your dog is still persistent in eating poop, you may add a loud noise that frightens the dog.
Rewarding your dog for good behavior is positive reinforcement. It comes in very handy when you train your dog. Praise your dog and then offer a treat for good behavior. Don't punish or yell at your dog. It can cause anxiety or fear.
Consistency Is Key
It is difficult to break a habit, but you can stop your dog from coprophagia with training. Consistently reinforcing positive behavior will teach your dog to stop from eating poop.
When to Seek Professional Help?
If your dog is still persistent and does not let go of eating poop despite your efforts and training, you must seek a veterinarian’s help. They will identify if any medical conditions are causing this behavior and guide you better.
Taking action to prevent coprophagia in dogs is necessary for their health and behavior. Consistency and patience in training with positive reinforcement are crucial to break a habit. To keep your dog away from poop would also need necessary changes in their environment, diet, and lifestyle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do dogs eat cat poop?
Dogs eat cat poop because of scavenging in their nature. Cat poop has tempting attributes such as taste, texture, and odor (because of digested nutrients) that attract dogs.
Why do dogs eat poop on walks?
Most dogs eat poop on walks to kill boredom or because they are hungry. Very often, there is nothing more appealing than poop if the dog enjoys eating poop. It can be theirs or another animal's stool.
Why do dogs eat poop in winter?
Dogs eat poop in winter because of one or more reasons, such as enhanced smell, the crunch (the frozen poop is dry and crunchy), or to get phytonutrients (produced by plants that provide health benefits) from the vegetarian animal’s poop.