Coprophagia in dogs - Does your dog eat Poop?

Coprophagia and Flatulence, two words dog owners can find themselves being very embarrassed about due to the social stigma associated with the subject. Dog owners are therefore reluctant to speak to their veterinarians about the problem which leads to a deterioration of the human – pet bond. The habit can also be seen as a health risk due to the chance of transmitting parasites such as intestinal worms from animal to human.

Coprophagia takes place when a dog consumes its own faeces, the faeces of another dog, or that of another species; for example cats. It may become an obsession, making the habit extremely difficult to break. Correcting this behaviour therefore takes dedication, perseverance and patience from the owner.

We need to keep in mind that the problem may stem from :

  • natural instinct as dogs are scavengers (they eat to survive), resulting in faeces being seen as a source of food.
  • Mothers also ingest faeces from the puppies while cleaning them.
  • Most importantly, eating of poo may be a result of various underlying medical or behavioural conditions as a result of boredom, lack of attention from owner, or stress.

It is therefore important for a veterinarian to examine these animals as well as the animal whose faeces is being eaten to rule out any underlying conditions.

Important points to remember when trying to break the habit of coprophagia:

  1. The owner should avoid letting the dog watch when the faeces is being cleared up. To a Coprophagic dog this is seen as a valuable source of food and seeing it being removed may stimulate the dog to eat it faster. Cat litter boxes should be cleaned out regularly to avoid accumulation of faeces and should be placed in an area dogs cannot easily get to.
  2. Dogs often eat faeces to get attention from their owners. It is therefore extremely important to not react in any way when the dog is eating the faeces. We tend to want to shout and chase the dog away but unfortunately even negative attention is still seen as attention. Rather distract the dog from eating the faeces by redirecting their attention to another activity such as playing with a toy.
  3. Boredom and stress are major triggers for Coprophagia. Daily walks will stimulate the dog mentally and physically, relieving the boredom and stress. Any stressors should also be identified and promptly corrected in order to break the habit.

Flatulence is the emission of odours by animals resulting in embarrassing situations for pet owners. The emissions are normally considered as purely a nuisance by owners but the problem can also be a sign of intestinal tract disorders.

The majority of intestinal gas results from swallowing air and bacterial fermentation.

Dividing food into 2 or 3 portions a day and allowing food to be eaten in a quiet environment without competition will help reduce intestinal gas. It is also beneficial to choose high quality, veterinary endorsed foods that are easy to digest.

Copronat (V22705) is a natural food supplement containing Yucca Schidigera extract (YSE), which has been shown to control coprophagia and reduce offensive smells associated with flatulence in dogs and cats. Copronat works by changing the taste of the faeces to make it taste bad and unpalatable. The product is sprayed onto the food of the animals whose faeces is being eaten. If unsure as to which animal to treat, it is advisable to treat all dogs and cats in the household.

Please speak to your local veterinarian about the use of Copronat to treat Coprophaigia. Alternately contact Afrivet head office.

By Dr Rozanne Janson (Afrivet)

Afrivet Data on file :

Copronat liquid spray solution. Reg no V22705 (Act 36 of 1947)
Registration holder: Afrivet business management (Pty) Ltd Reg. No. 2000/011263/07

PO Box 2009 Faerie Glen 0043 Tel: 012 817 9060, Helpline: 0860 VEEARTS. www.afrivet.co.za


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