Common Health Problems affecting Dogs and Cats

Veterinary advice from John Burns BVMS MRCVS

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Coprophagia is a common phenomenon which is seen in puppies and in adult dogs. Many explanations have been offered as to why dogs do this. One suggestion is that coprophagia is caused by boredom. The condition is certainly common in kennelled dogs but they tend to be fed on very cheap, low-quality foods.

Another suggestion is that very high energy diets are responsible, the rationale being that the faeces must contain some undigested nutrients which are attractive to the dog. Some vets believe that coprophagia is normal and harmless but it is certainly unpleasant and disgusting for the owner.

My view is that coprophagia is an example of a depraved appetite and as such is a sign of non-specific ill-health, most probably affecting the gastro-intestinal system. It is not as is commonly thought, a sign that the dog is intuitively seeking out something which is lacking in the diet.

Dietary intolerance is a likely contributory factor.

Nutritional Management is by following the Health Management programme

Additional management techniques should be employed at the same time as the diet is corrected, for example denying the dog access or opportunity to eat faeces. This will help to break the habit.

Other common examples of depraved appetite are: eating soil, wood.


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