Coprophagy is the fancy word for poop-eating. Regardless of the name, it really is disgusting -especially when dogs want kisses after they’ve had their yard snack. Some dogs eat feces straight from the tap, some prefer frozen poopsicles in the middle of winter. Either way, wouldn’t it be great to know a bit more about why your treasured (and spoiled) pooch is doing something so —well — gross?

Regardless of the gross out factor, here are 4 reasons dogs eat poop. Let’s see how many you can rule out for your dog.

1. Hunger
2. Behavior issue
3. Stomach/intestinal upset
4. Mother dog behavior – instinct

Dogs who come out of stressful situations —  like being born into a  puppy mill —  sometimes do not have enough food available in a timely manner. These dogs learn to eat poop as a source of food. If this is your dog, patience and providing high-quality nutrition will help your dog get past this stage.

Dogs who were abused — often those dogs who have been through rescue situations —  will also eat poop. Again, patience, positive training, and high-quality nutrition will help these dogs eat less feces. (Just say no – friends don’t let friends eat poop.)

There could also be a medical reason that your  dog eats poop, grass, dirt, and any other strange thing, a disorder called pica. In some cases, this strange behavior could mean that something is wrong with his intestines. A very common intestinal health issue is something called “leaky gut.” So if this is your dog, there are a few different things you can try.

  • First, feed real food, meat, raw, canned; not dry dog food. Extreme processing of dry dog food often causes intestinal issues.
  • Second, provide probiotics and digestive enzymes and your dogs diet. These can do a lot to heal leaky intestines.
  • Third, if the issues continue, seek advice from your holistic veterinarian to continue treatment of the leaky gut issues.

The fourth reason dogs eat feces is instinct.  Mother dogs naturally do this as they clean their puppies’ bottoms. The mother dog must lick the puppies’ bottoms to stimulate the puppies to go to the restroom– licking leads to consumption. Eating the feces also keeps the puppy den clean. A clean den is not only a hygienic environment to raise puppies, but less smell is less likely to attract predators. There’s an element of poop eating that is derived from long gone days in the wild.

Bottom line: If you want to keep your dog’s inner poop-eating wolf away, feed high quality foods with a minimal of processing, treat leaky gut, and keep the yard clean.  You can also just say no – friends don’t let friends eat poop.

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