Any dog owner will feel embarrassed if his pet starts to eat his own or other people’s excrement while walking. Others will look at them with condemnation. It would seem that the pet is full, healthy, why does the dog eat feces?
Normal or pathological?
Experts do not consider this behavior of animals to be a deviation from the norm. The female eats the excrement of her cubs not only from the dogs. Therefore, coprophagia manifests itself more often in bitches than in males. In the wild, this is justified: in this way the female hides her tracks so that predators cannot find the babies. Ancient innate instincts can awaken in any breed of dog, even those bred in recent years.
But our animals have long lived in warm apartments and houses, and the instinct to protect their offspring has been preserved. Watching its mother, a small puppy can also eat feces, which, according to some zoopsychologists, remind puppies of their first food – warm, semi-solid and semi-digested. Such food the tigress and lioness of their cubs, regurgitating it to them after the hunt.
On the street, puppies observe their fellow relatives and can copy their behavior. By watching the playground mates eat the feces, the puppy can do the same.
Experts distinguish three types of coprophagia:
- autocoprophagia – eating your own feces;
- intraspecific – eating only dog droppings;
- interspecific – eating the feces of other animals – feline, deer, cow, etc.
The reason is improper feeding
Most often, the reason lies in the absence in the dog’s body of any vitamins and microelements, most often – vitamins of group B, K, as well as proteins. Scientists claim that the feces of agricultural and domestic animals contain:
- up to 20% proteins;
- 40% fiber;
- 5% fat;
- 35% carbohydrates.
Therefore, you should reconsider the pet’s diet: if the dog eats feces, it is likely that it does not receive any nutrients from the food. Studying the life of wolves, which are the ancestors of domestic dogs, scientists have noticed that predators primarily eat the stomach of the victim, along with its contents. Thus, they satisfy the body’s needs for nutrients.
A domestic dog does not need to hunt, food is given to it in a bowl, but the dog can lead to undesirable behavior:
- feeding mainly with cereals or only meat;
- mixing when feeding natural products and ready-made industrial feed;
- the presence of fatty, salty foods in the diet;
- excess of treats;
- feeding with cheap unbalanced feed.
If the dog eats up its own or other people’s excrement, chances are that it is just hungry. Try to increase the portion, include wholemeal bread, meat offal – tripe and kidneys in the feed, give your pet vitamin complexes.
Do you punish your dog if it goes to the wrong place? There is a possibility that, due to fear of punishment, the pet will try to hide the “traces of the crime” by eating its poop. Coprophagia can develop in a puppy for this very reason.
Sometimes dogs try to “seize stress” in this way. The fear of being left alone can lead to some negative moments in the behavior of the animal – uncleanliness, increased vocalization, coprophagia from among them.
Pay more attention to your pet. If you have a dog, be prepared to spend more time with it – walking, training, playing. While walking, engage your pet with games, exercise, pay more attention to training. Use toys to keep your dog’s mouth busy. If the animal does not have the time and reason to sniff objects lying on the ground, its attention will not be attracted by the piles of excrement left behind.
You can use a muzzle during a walk – such that it does not interfere with normal breathing, but does not give the opportunity to pick up something from the ground. The leash will also help distract your pet from unnecessary items. If the dog is interested in a pile lying on the ground, pull the leash and command: “Ugh!” If you repeat such exercises, the dog will learn the lesson and will cease to be interested not only in feces, but also in other objects lying on the ground.
In the process of education, do not lose patience. Consistency and perseverance will help you achieve immediate and unquestioning obedience. And do not forget to reward your pet when it achieves positive training results.
It’s time to see the doctor
Some diseases can be accompanied by such a phenomenon as coprophagia. With a deficiency of B vitamins, vitamin K, a dog may look for a source of their receipt. B group nutrients are involved in almost all processes in the body, so you should contact your veterinarian to prescribe a vitamin complex that will help wean your dog from eating feces. Vitamin K ensures normal blood clotting. If it is not enough in the dog’s body, the slightest wound can lead to large blood loss.
Deviations in the animal’s taste preferences can be caused by disorders in the work of the pancreas or by the presence of an infection in the intestine, metabolic disorders in the body. A veterinarian examination and clinical studies will help determine the pathology. After treatment and with proper feeding, the pet may lose interest in defecation products.
Intestinal helminths do not allow food to be digested normally, as a result, all the nutrients it needs do not enter the body either. Veterinarians strongly recommend regular pet treatment every 3 months.
In some cases, experts recommend using special feed additives to combat coprophagia, which help reduce the dog’s interest in his or other people’s excrement. Experts do not talk about the absolute effectiveness of these methods, but they believe that processing meat with special enzymes – softeners, which contribute to better breakdown of nutrients, can help. This helps the assimilation of food and eliminates the animal’s need for additional “nutrition”.
Forbid is a food supplement in powder form that gives stool an unpleasant taste for a dog. There is currently no sufficient confirmation of the effectiveness of the drug, in addition, it is ineffective if the pet eats its own feces and faeces from animals of another species.
Deter tablets are also given to the animal with food. The drug is sold without a veterinarian’s prescription, unlike Forbid, but has the same disadvantages.
Rather than feeding a dog questionable medications, it is better to exclude the possibility of picking up a litter for it. The house should be kept clean and the dog should not be allowed outside access.
Dog eating cat feces
This interest in cat feces can lead to kidney disease in the dog. Cat food (and feces) is rich in protein, and too much of it puts too much strain on the kidneys. In addition, intestinal obstruction can become dangerous consequences, then the pet will need surgery.
If your dog is interested in the litter box, keep it out of reach and keep the litter box clean.
If the dog eats feces, it is unpleasant for the owner and others. The untidy appearance of the animal and the disgusting smell from the mouth will haunt the owner, so the behavior of the animal cannot be ignored. But the reason can be both in the absence of education or a lack of nutrients, which is easy to eliminate, and in serious diseases that require medical intervention.
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