Why does my dog eat poop (coprophagia)?

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Some veterinary nutritionists have suggested that dogs eat stool to replenish enzymes so that they are better prepared to digest their food. There is also evidence that dogs that aren’t getting enough of certain nutrients will resort to eating poop. A lack of vitamin B is often said to be a cause of coprophagia.

In the wild, during lean times, a dog would eat it’s own feces to extract any traces of nutrients left.   A mother dog is hardwired to keep the nest clean.  She licks her puppies to encourage them to eliminate, then licks them to dispose of any sign and smell to avoid predators finding the nest.  A submissive member of the pack may eat the feces of the dominant member.  A dog harshly scolded for inappropriate elimination may try to clean the evidence.  Dogs may eat poop out of boredom.  Fresh cat poop is so stinky most dogs find it irresistible!

Coprophagia was more common in multi-dog households. In single-dog homes, only 20 percent of dogs had the habit, while in homes with three dogs, that rose to 33 percent.

  • Poop eaters are no harder to house train than any other dogs.
  • Females are more likely to eat poop, and intact males were least likely.
  • 92 percent of poop eaters want fresh stuff, only one to two days old.
  • 85 percent of poop eaters will not eat their own feces, only that of other dogs.
  • Greedy eaters—dogs who steal food off tables—tend to also be poop eaters.
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