What is coprophagia?
Coprophagia is the consumption of feces, whether it be your dog’s own feces or someone else’s. That’s why coprophagia and dogs are often associated. This may sound absurd, but don’t be completely surprised when it happens because it’s common for young furbabies. Usually, puppies outgrow coprophagia by adulthood, but in some cases, they do not.
What’s even more surprising to know is that they are attracted to the odor, taste and texture of feces. They’re lured by such characteristics and not repelled by them. So, when you’re out for a walk and encounter feces, be sure to keep your furbaby away. It’s strange how feces appeal to them, but there can be many reasons behind this strange behavior.
Coprophagia is considered a purely behavioral problem if all medical problems are eliminated, but one that should not be taken lightly. Take note that normal behavior does not equate safety! As appetizing and common as it can be, coprophagia health risks are real and serious due to the bacterial content of feces. As pet parents, you will not be able to identify the composition of feces until tested by a laboratory. It’s better to be safe by preventing it from the onset.
Causes of coprophagia are either medical or behavioral. But before you can consider it as purely behavioral, all medical reasons must be eliminated.
Medical causes of coprophagia can vary from:
- Mal-absorption of nutrients,
- Dietary nutritional deficiencies, and
- Highly restrictive diets
There are also conditions that might affect your furbabies appetite, such as:
- Diabetes or Cushing’s disease,
- Thyroid disease and
- Treatment with certain drugs such as steroids
So, when is it considered behavioral? Feces that contain undigested food material are more likely to grab your furbaby’s attention! They sniff and look as if they want to devour the feces all in one go! Disgusting, but again, normal, so do your best to prevent your furbaby from eating any kind of feces.
Some pet parents absolutely hate when their dogs poop in certain areas, especially inside their home. Tendency is for pet parents to incorrectly train their dog by sticking their dog’s nose in their stool. What happens here is that instead of teaching them not to eat it, pet parents are actually encouraging them to to eat it! Remember: learn how to communicate with your furbaby, so as not to confuse commands and training techniques with unwanted behavior.
Coprophagia Health Risks
Before you can claim that coprophagia is purely behavioral, you must first check off all the potential medical problems that may cause or contribute to your furbaby’s diet. Here are a few signs to watch out for:
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Increase appeal and appetite in stool
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
Keep these in mind, most especially when your furbaby is out and about. Eating one little piece of stool could go a long way to help your furbaby’s health.
How do you stop coprophagia? The best solution for coprophagia is definitely prevention. Why focus on treatment when you can avoid it from happening anyway? Here are some things you can do to prevent your furbaby from chowing on that gross piece of feces:
- Clean your home, yard and your surroundings
- Supervise your furbaby when he’s outdoors
- Provide a well-balanced diet
- Provide proper training (teach basic commands)
It’s best to do this on a regular basis, even when he or she seems completely normal.
If you are at a point wherein you are seeking treatment for your furbaby, there are many things you can try:
- Change your furbaby’s diet with food that is easier to digest, has different protein sources and with high fiber formula.
- Add digestive enzymes to your furbaby’s food to improve nutrient digestion or absorption.
- Frequent and inconsistent stool calls for a trip to the veterinarian. He or she may advice your furbaby to undergo a stool and/or blood exam to determine the root cause.
Treating coprophagia is not always easy. Make sure you’re patient and understanding of your furbaby’s condition. Stressing him further for frequent or inconsistent feces will not help. Worst part of getting angry about it – he probably doesn’t even understand you. If you suspect that your furbaby needs treatment, do not hesistate to bring him to your local veterinarian.
Now that you know more about coprophagia such as the causes of coprophagia, coprophagia effects and coprophagia treatment, among many others; you won’t be surprised when you see your furbaby going after that disgusting piece of feces. The real challenge now lies in preventing this from happening on the onset and becoming a habit of your furbaby.