Keep It Clean: Preventing Canine Coprophagia

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No matter how much you love dogs, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that they can be disgusting at times. Poop-eating, known as coprophagia by veterinarians, is one of the more common icky habits that dogs possess. If your dog likes to dine on feces, don’t despair. There are ways to control the problem.Understanding coprophagia is key to controlling it. In mothers and young pups, it can be a natural and even healthy behavior. Mothers have to help very young puppies eliminate, and eating feces keeps the den clean.
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If the behavior continues, however, there may be a few root causes. Much of it likely comes from an instinctive desire to keep the den clean. Young dogs that live with old or incontinent dogs are more likely to eat feces, which backs this up. Dogs that are kept in a small kennel or in areas that are not cleaned enough are also more likely to develop the habit, especially if they’re fed in the same area.


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Dogs may also eat it as an instinctive behavior to help prevent starvation. Most dogs prefer fresher feces, which do contain some essential digestive enzymes. Greedy dogs are also more likely to eat feces than their less gluttonous peers.

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Owners can also accidentally teach their dogs this behavior. It’s most common in bored or anxious dogs. If a bored dog gets a reaction from his owner every time he gets caught eating poop, he may begin to associate it with attention. There are some easy ways to lessen the behavior. Consult your veterinarian to make sure your dog is getting adequate nutrition, and consider supplementing with digestive enzymes. Pick up your yard or kennel area frequently, particularly if you have multiple dogs.

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Be sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise and affection so she isn’t driven to eat out of boredom. If all else fails, consider a feed-through taste aversion product that alters the taste of the feces. Understanding the roots and triggers of coprophagia can help you develop an effective strategy for stopping it in your dog. Learn about other canine behaviors and become a dog whisperer.

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