Poop-eating (coprophagia) is generally a natural behaviour in dogs but unfortunately one that can be more than a little disgusting. Let’s face it, dogs are renowned for their flexible palates, and to them, poop is just another taste sensation. Frozen feces, or poopsicles, are an especially alluring snack. Puppies are the most frequent culprits, and owners take heart, they will usually grow out of this habit with a few precautionary measures. Dogs over one year old that have developed this habit can be a little harder to discourage.
Why do they do it?
Dogs are hard-wired to explore any and all potential food resources in their environment. This is especially true of puppies. Feces is very similar in texture to the regurgitated food they got from mom. Breeding females, as well, are naturally inclined to do their own “scooping” as they would normally clean up after their pups in the den. In addition, most dogs feel some urge to keep their territory or den clean, especially if they have been scolded for leaving a mess before. For some dogs, it is also a way to garner attention from an owner or to alleviate stress.
A poor quality diet or one that a dog is unable to digest easily might encourage your dog to give his poop a second round, so make sure hes getting plenty of protein in his diet. One way to make sure he is getting plenty of protein in his diet, is to feed him protein filled dog treats, like pig ears. In households where both dogs and cats are present, dogs may eat cat feces. Cat feces is more nutritious than dog feces, since cats are less efficient at digesting their food. Cat food is also higher in protein than dog food and so cat poop contains many extra nutrients. That being said, there are some cases when coprophagia indicates a greater health problem, such as pancreatic insufficiency, specific nutrient deficiencies, or plain old starvation. A dog that is eating a lot of food can still starve if the food is missing important nutrients. In these cases the dog will lose weight or develop other symptoms over time.
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