Why Does a Dog Eat His Waste?

by Brandy Burgess
When dogs eat their own waste it is a condition known as coprophagia.

When dogs eat their own waste it is a condition known as coprophagia.

Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Coprophagy is the term used to describe your dog’s revolting habit of eating his own waste. While undeniably gross, your pet’s behavior is normal during puppyhood. To prevent the serious medical risks that accompany coprophagy, stop your puppy from eating his own excrement or that of another dog. Once your puppy acquires a taste for these droppings, your dog’s strange behavior could follow him as an adult. Prevent feces-eating from becoming a reoccurring habit by promptly addressing your puppy’s behavior and determining the underlying cause.

Learned Behavior

Puppies may learn their poop-eating behavior shortly after birth. Instinctually, a mother dog may eat the waste of her puppies to ward off predators and to keep the “den” clean. Mother dogs may continue to eat waste until her puppies are weaned. If your puppy’s curiosity got the better of him, he may have smelled and tasted his own stool. Breeders can deter this behavior by quickly cleaning up after the puppies.

Malnutrition

Growing puppies require a minimum of three meals per day. Dogs who do not get enough to eat or go too long between feedings may resort to eating their own waste. Pets with nutrition problems may require a feeding schedule recommended by your vet. Intestinal parasites can also cause your dog to be hungrier than normal. As parasites and worms steal nutrients from your puppy’s system, he may try to fill his dietary deficiencies with his own stool.

Stress and Fear

Emotions can wreak havoc on a dog’s body and mind. Occasionally, punishment while house-training a dog can result in stool-eating. When a dog is fearful that his owner will become angry when he sees his “accident” on the floor, the dog may eat the stool to hide the evidence. Stress from being rehomed or a drastic life change can also drive dogs to eat their own waste.

Boredom

Some dogs relieve their boredom by raiding the trash or destroying the mail, while others turn to playing with feces. This behavior is more common during the winter, as many dogs are fascinated by their frozen excrement. Providing your puppy with plenty of toys and chews can help deter this habit. Your pet may also eat his waste for the attention it gets him. Even if it’s a negative reaction, attention is attention in the eyes of a dog.

Poor Digestion

Even a well-fed dog may eat his own waste. Poor digestion is often linked to low-quality dog foods. When your puppy consumes food that is low in digestible nutrients, his waste often comes out tasting the same way it went in. A trip to the vet can help rule out any medical causes related to nutrition and digestion. Your vet may also recommend making the switch to a higher-quality dog food to ensure your puppy is getting the nutrients he needs.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

About the Author

Based in northern New York, Brandy Burgess has been writing on pets, technical documentation and health resources since 2007. She also writes on personal development for YourFreelanceWritingCareer.com. Burgess' work also has appeared on various online publications, including eHow.com. Burgess holds a Bachelor of Arts in computer information systems from DeVry University and her certified nurses aid certification.

Trending Dog Behavior Articles

Have a question? Get an answer from a Vet now!