COPROPHAGIA AND FEEDING
Why do some dogs eat their stools, and how to prevent this type of behaviour ?
Dogs are attracted by the smell of their stools, hence they sometimes eat them. Once this vicious habbit has started, it becomes difficult to teach them to give it up.
Among various favorizing causes, we can note:
- Atavism: some breeds (Beauceron, hunting dogs, nordic breeds...) become coprophagic more easily than other ones. However, let's point out that it is normal for the bitch to eat her puppies' stools during a few days after delivery.
- Boredom, too little space: only one dog eating his stools, often makes the others doing the same within the whole kennel.
- Lack of hygiene in the kennel: droppings all over the kennel is a encouraging factor for coprophagia.
- Undigested elements in the stools: unsufficient digestibility of the diet, overfeeding, or digestive enzymes deficiency may promote bacterial overgrowth in the large intestine ; then intact particles of starch or undigested proteins are excreted, making the smell of the stools specially attracting for the dogs.
Consequently, a few elementary rules have to be observed when feeding dogs, to avoid this phenomenon to go on.
- Choose a high digestible dogfood, and avoid overfeeding : too important meals disturb the digestion, and favorize large intestine fermentations, especially in puppies.
- Prefer 2 or 3 small meals rather than only big one.
- Do not hesitate to feed a high energy diet if coprophagia goes on ; just reduce the amount fed compared to the theoritical quantities advised, when the dog is not so active. Effectively, cereals and vegetable fibers in excess are very often responsible for poor assimilation.This is specially true for nordic dogs (Siberian Husky), suffering from amylase deficiency (or lack of enzyme for starch digestion).
In case there is a proteic malassimilation problem, a "highfat-high protein"diet is misadvised: then the digestive trouble has to be solved first.
-Try to isolate coprophagic dogs from the others, to prevent the others to imitate them.
- Try to keep a petdog entertained : go out with him, give him toys to chew... If you feel helpless, a veterinarian may find useful to prescribe a medical treatment against anxiety.
- If there is only one dog involved, it is worth having him tested for assimilation ability, to get a sharper diagnosis, (TLI, folate, B12 tests). In some cases, adding pancreatic enzymes to the diet can be an appropriate solution.
Empirically, it is commonly said that brewers yeast can help preventing coprophagia ; (they would modify the smell of the stools ?). If this last remedy fails, the owner can try spilling pepper on the stools to discountenance the animal to consume them ...
Let's remember that coprophagia is a disgusting habbit from the owner's point of view, but it does not induce any risk for the dog himself.
Donated by the Borg Cardona and Co. Ltd. visit Borg Cardona website