As pet owners, we want our furry loved ones to be healthy and happy. So when we happen to see Fido taking an interest in eating the waste he has left behind, it is only natural for us to feel concerned and want to do something about it.
As unpleasant as it may be to witness this behavior, it is actually very common in dogs and has been forever. Called Coprophagia, some attribute dogs eating their own waste to hard-wired instinct. Before dogs were domesticated, they were scavengers that survived by eating whatever they could find. Often, this included feeding on the waste of other animals, as well as their own. But today’s dogs are not their ancestors and Coprophagia is a behavior that should be laid to rest.
Diet: A lack of sufficient nutrients in a dog’s diet is the single-greatest factor leading to Coprophagia. Dogs will sometimes try to re-digest the food to get all of the nutrients they can from it.
The best dietary solution is to put Fido on a raw diet. Dogs are carnivores and their digestive system is built for processing meat – raw meat, to be precise. By researching and implementing a raw diet, you will better align your pet’s diet with their physiological makeup. In turn, this should work to satisfy their needs and prevent them from scavenging what they’ve left behind.
Stress: Dogs behave differently under stress. One of the leading behavior changes in dogs suffering from anxiety is their eating. Did you recently adopt your dog or move to a new home? If so, give them time to adjust. Exercise is also a great way to level out a pet’s temperament and reduce their stress.
Attention: Finally, whether it’s stealing a sock or running away when you call them, dogs tend to act out when they are seeking attention. Included in this array of attention-seeking bad behaviors is Coprophagia. Keep in mind that negative attention is still attention, so make a point not to react if you see your pooch eating his left-behinds. Instead, calmly remove and dispose of the waste without saying a word or making eye contact. As contradictory as it seems, scolding the pet will often reinforce the behavior rather than reduce it.
While there are many factors contributing to a dog’s tendency to eat its own waste, ranging from diet to animal instinct, this is a common behavior that can be stopped. The best action pet owners can take to ensure doggie deposits are not reconsumed is to make sure pet waste does not accumulate. By removing the waste, you remove the core of the problem.
Those who are too busy to deal with the mess – or simply prefer not to – should consider hiring a local pet waste management service. With most services costing about the same price as a large pizza, who wouldn’t want to wash their hands clean of the whole cleanup business?