Running an animal hospital means that we get to hear all kinds of questions from concerned pet owners. From frightening to amusing to downright bizarre, we’ve heard it all. So it is never any surprise when we receive the following question: “Why does my dog eat poop?”
First of all, yes, this behavior is common. The proper name is coprophagia, but as we all know, the actual behavior is much less dignified. You might discover that your dog has decided to snack out of the cat’s litter box or on droppings found outside… But why would he do this? There are several potential reasons:
- A nutritional deficiency
- Intestinal parasites (which result in poor absorption of nutrients and therefore deficiencies)
- An enzyme deficiency
- A disease or medication which has resulted in increased appetite
- Instincts to “clean up” (yes, really)
- Learned behavior from another dog
So, what do you do about it? If you’ve just caught your dog dining on this most unpleasant meal, don’t panic. Your first action might be to brush his teeth, since his breath is likely to be quite offensive at this time.
Your next step should be to call us and schedule an appointment. We can perform a screening for parasites and check your dog for other health problems that could be triggering this unappealing habit.
If your pet receives a clean bill of health, we will shift our focus to behavioral methods of prevention. You know your pet best, so let’s discuss his daily habits and other behaviors. Together we will figure out what’s causing this bizarre craving, and then put together a plan of action to prevent it in the future.