What is Coprophagy?
Some dogs eat the dug of birds, rabbits, cows, sheep, cats, horses, deer, and even their own. This is called coprophagy, which means “faeces eating” and it’s quite understandable that many dog owners are disgusted by it.
Eating dung can be quite gross to a human, but can be quite common for a dog. Some dog owners even punish their dogs in an attempt to discourage them from eating dung, but this if often a waste of effort and an improper approach to prevent coprophagy.
Fortunately, not all dogs eat dung though and some dog owners are quite thankful that they never see their own dogs eat dung. Approximately 160 dog owners out of 1000 see their dogs eat dung and the vast majority of dogs do not eat dung.
Why Do Some Dogs Eat Dung?
Some dogs value cleanliness and they think that by eating their own dung, they are cleaning up after themselves and doing their owners a favor by not having to see a mess on the floor.
However, doing so is not completely risk-free as dung, especially that of other animals, can carry disease and the disease might spread to the dogs by consuming the dung.
Some dogs believe that parasites could live in their dung and by getting rid of it right away by consuming it would help to prevent the spread of the parasites. This is a behavior that dogs could have inherited from their ancestors, who could have grown up with a different line of thinking than that of dogs in the present day world.
What Should the Dog Owner Do?
The best course of action for the dog owner to take is to simply clean up after the dog right away. This would show the dog that yes, it is a good idea to dispose of the dung right away, but it’s better to dispose of it by moving it to the rubbish bin rather than consuming it and putting it into one’s mouth.
Punishing the dog for consuming dung is not the proper approach as most likely, the only result will be souring the relationship between the dog and its owner rather than discouraging the dog from eating its dung.
Also, it is entirely possible that the dog is underfed and is scavenging for another source of food that the dog owner failed to provide. If this is the case, the dog owner should feed the dog more often everyday.
If this is the case, it would certainly not be a good idea to punish your dog as that wouldn’t improve the underfeeding situation for the dog and would only worsen the situation for your dog.