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Posted on 12-19-2016

Why does your pet eat poop?

Coprophagia, or the act of consuming feces, is a relatively common complaint among dog owners. Many owners are worried about what this may mean about their dogs health, not to mention the yuck factor!

Dogs eat poop for a variety of reasons. Most commonly, it's just because it's there and they are attracted to the smell. Yup, they just like it. Especially cat poop, which generally has a high fat content. This is a hard one for humans to reconcile - because, well, its poop. But as we know, dogs are not small humans. 

Some dogs eat poop as a learned behavior, from watching other dogs in the house do it, or from living in a small environment for an extended period of time. We know that dogs originating in pet stores or puppy mills have a higher incidence of eating their own poop than dogs originating at a breeder. The attention dogs receive from their human when they consume feces is another reason - they might be getting scolded but it is still attention from you! 

Mother dogs eat the feces of their newborn puppies, probably to keep predators from smelling them, and puppies eat feces for a short time in order to establish normal bacteria in the gut. This is mirrored in other species as well. 

Rarely, dogs may eat feces due to a nutritional imbalance, but this is unlikely these days since most dogs are fed a well-balanced commercial dog food. There are a few gastrointestinal conditions that may cause a dog to search for nutrition in feces, such as pancreatic insufficiency. These require treatment, so therefore a dog eating feces should be presented to the veterinarian for an exam. 

Key Points:

- Dogs eat poop for a lot of reasons, mainly behavioral

- Dogs eating poop should be taken to the vet for an exam

Cats and Dogs Animal Hospital - Treating your pets like family in Long Beach, CA



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