Many people ask us: “Why do puppies eat their poop?”
Coprophagy is the veterinary term for dogs who eat feces. Unfortunately, this is a common problem in puppies. And guess where it all begins? It starts with the mother.
Below are 5 reasons puppies might do this.
1. They Picked It Up From Mom
After having a litter of babies, a mother dog will eat the puppies’ feces. It is instinct that causes her to do this. Out in the wild, she needed to hide the scent of her puppies from predators. By eating the poop, she would cut down on the smell, which might have attracted animals that would kill the babies.
In modern days, the mother still does this, but she does so to keep the whelping box clean. Puppies often pick up this habit from watching the mother dog’s behavior.
2. They Just Like Putting Things in Their Mouth
Puppies, like babies, will put just about anything in their mouth. Dr. Donna Spector, DVM, recommends encouraging your puppy to play with toys.
“Do not punish or give excessive attention if your puppy does eat feces,” says Dr. Spector. “This will just reinforce the behavior.”
3. Not Enough Vitamins/Minerals
Vitamin or mineral deficiencies can be the cause of coprophagy. When a puppy lacks something in his diet, he will try to find a way to obtain the nourishment he is lacking. By swallowing feces, he is trying to nourish himself.
Switching to a high-quality commercial food should work wonders — not only for stopping this disgusting habit, but also for improving overall pet health.
Dr. Roger Welton, DVM, explains more in this quick video:
4. Not Enough Fiber in the Diet
The food that your pet consumes could be too high in calories and too low in fiber. This will cause abnormal digestion. The food may also, ahem, come out the other end looking pretty much the same as it went into the pet.
Veterinarians believe that if the food is not properly digested, the dog is not getting the nutrition from it. Switching to a higher-fiber diet will usually help.
5. They Don’t Want You to Know They Defecated
Young puppies are often yelled at if they have accidents in the house. Pets never want to make their humans unhappy or angry. Therefore, some will avoid getting in trouble by eating the evidence.
You need to use consistent, gentle housebreaking techniques.
Why You’ve Got to Stop It
Regardless of the cause, coprophagy must be stopped. It’s not only a gross habit, but it also can cause many health issues, especially if the dog is eating other animals’ feces.
Your puppy could get intestinal parasites or other diseases. The only way to get rid of intestinal parasites is through deworming, and it usually takes 3 treatments or more before all the worms are gone.
For training advice, continue on to What in the World to Do When Your Dog Eats Poo?