Why Does My Dog Eat Poop

Dog Health Recent May 4, 2024
Why Does My Dog Eat Poop
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Why Does My Dog Eat Poop

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Why Does My Dog Eat Poop

Dogs may eat poop due to canine nature, known as canine conspecific coprophagy. Veterinarians consider stool eating normal, but there is no known connection between diet and this behavior. If eating poop is a new habit for your dog, it may be an unpleasant habit, and there may be something else going on. It’s important to note that stools are often considered normal by dogs.

Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

A study involving two surveys sent to about 3,000 dog owners found that 16% of dogs are classified as “serious” poop eaters, caught in the act five times, and 24% were observed eating poop at least once. The researchers concluded that eating fresh stools is a reflection of an innate predisposition of ancestral canids living in nature that protects pack members from intestinal parasites present in feces.

Animal behaviorists suggest that coprophagia may be one of several appetitive survival behaviors that have evolved to cope with the periodic adversity of starvation. In essence, when food is scarce, dogs cannot be picky. If your adult dog starts to eat poop, you should consult with your vet to rule out health problems like parasites, diets deficient in nutrients and calories, malabsorption syndromes, diabetes, Cushing’s disease, thyroid disease, and other conditions that might cause an increase in appetite, or drugs such as steroids.

In some cases, dogs start to eat their own poop because of environmental stress or behavioral triggers, including isolation, restrictive confinement, anxiety, attention-seeking, inappropriate association with real food, scenting poop on their mothers, and living with a sick or elderly dog. It is important to keep feeding and watering areas separate from elimination or potty areas and to avoid overreacting if you see your dog eating poop.

Why Do Puppies Eat Their Poop?

Coprophagia is a learned behavior in puppies, where they mimic their mother’s or friends’ behavior to maintain cleanliness and avoid predators. However, puppies may eat their poop for various reasons, including boredom, stress, disease, poor digestion, enzyme deficiency, fascination with feces, and insufficient food.

Boredom can cause puppies to entertain themselves, while stress can lead to anxiety or stress.

Hormonal imbalances, such as diabetes, Cushings disease, or thyroid imbalances, can cause dogs to eat poop, while hyperthyroidism can increase hunger.

Poor digestion can cause puppies to eat poop suddenly, while enzyme deficiency can conserve digestive enzymes or nutrients.

Fascination with feces can also cause puppies to eat their feces to protect themselves from predators. In rare cases, puppies may eat poop due to insufficient nutrition, as they need more calories than adult dogs.

But is it Normal?

Eating poop is normal for some species, like rabbits, to obtain essential nutrients. However, dogs don’t need to do this for essential nutrition. Mother dogs lick their puppies to encourage them to eliminate and clean up their poop for the first three weeks after giving birth.

Puppies also naturally engage in this behavior, eating their own poop, poop from other dogs, and poop from cats and other animals. Some dogs find horse manure and goose droppings appealing. While it’s not dangerous for a puppy to eat their own poop, consuming poop from other animals may cause health problems if the stool is contaminated with parasites, viruses, or toxins.

This behavior usually fades before the puppy is about nine months old.

Is it Dangerous for My Dog to Eat Poop?

Eating poo is a normal behavior for dogs, but it’s important to discourage it due to the potential risks of parasites, viruses, and bacteria. Some medications, like worming medications found in horse manure, can also pass through an animal’s feces and be toxic.

If a dog cannot stop eating feces, provide something to eat or drink to rinse their mouth, avoid licking them, and wash your hands thoroughly when in contact with their mouth or saliva. Ensure your dog is up-to-date on any worming treatments.

Will My Dog get Sick From Eating Poop?

Why Does My Dog Eat Poop

Poop eating is a concern for pet owners as it can cause illness in dogs. While eating their own poop may be okay, eating another dog’s poop increases the risk of infectious diseases or parasites. Symptoms include gastroenteritis, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, tiredness, and intestinal parasites.

It is recommended to consult a veterinarian if your dog is experiencing behavioral changes or symptoms related to poop eating.

To break a dog’s poop eating habit, first ensure there are no underlying medical issues causing the behavior. If your veterinarian identifies it as a behavioral issue, there are several ways to train your dog to stop.

1. Limit access to poop by picking up waste immediately from your yard, especially if you have cats. Provide a toy or treat for potty breaks to distract your dog from the poop.

2. Use positive reinforcement and treats to teach commands like “leave it.” Be patient and persistent in your training.

3. Consider dietary supplements, such as high-fiber formulas or enzyme supplements, to make the taste of your dog’s poop less appealing. Some owners have found success by adding papaya, cottage cheese, or crushed pineapple to dog food.

To prevent your dog from eating poop, consider vitamin or enzyme supplements, deterrents, training, and cleaning up immediately. Vitamin B supplements can help if your dog is lacking certain nutrients. Other methods include using commands like “leave it,” keeping a close eye during walks, and cleaning up poop immediately after use.

What if My Dog Eats Cat Poop?

Dogs often enjoy eating cat poo, making litter trays a difficult treat for them. To discourage this behavior, clean the litter tray regularly and move it to a location that the cat can access but the dog cannot, such as high up on a table, behind a stairgate with a cat flap, or in a lid or door-closed litter tray.

Cat poop, like other kinds of poop, is something for dogs to scavenge. Like eating dog poop, eating cat poop can be due to behavioral reasons, especially if a big fuss is made when they eat it. It could also be due to medical reasons; they might be looking for nutrients in cat poop, or they might have an intestinal parasite, like flatworm in dogs .

If a cat has a health issue, like a harmful bacterium or a parasite, this could be passed on to your dog through their poop.
Similarly, a cat might be on medication, which is eliminated in their poop. If a dog eats this, they may be ingesting a drug that isn’t safe for them.

If you’re concerned about your dog eating cat poop, or other animal feces, make sure to contact your vet.

Final Thoughts

Dogs’ coprophagy can indicate health issues, such as parasites, diabetes, Cushing disease, nutritional deficiencies, thyroid diseases, or drug reactions. However, the reason dogs eat poop may be simply for attention, as observed in various scenarios. It is concluded that at least one dog has successfully attracted attention to their poop.

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Amy Towry is a Certified NAVC Pet Nutritionist and pet lover. She is the proud owner of two rescue cats and a rescue dog and her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care, nutrition, and product reviews.
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