Get the real dirt on why our canine companions consume caca as we answer the age-old question: Why do dogs eat poop? Coprophagia, or the eating of faecal matter, represents one of our pets’ least charming traits.
Depending on the circumstances, pet owners might feel embarrassed, repulsed, or confused by their dogs’ filthy faux pas. Let’s discuss why dogs eat poop, the health implications, and what owners should do about it.
Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?
Poop may please your pup’s palate for a plethora of purposes, including the instinctual removal of soil-transmitted parasites from living areas.
The first thing to look for is any health or diet issues that may be contributing to this disgusting behaviour. A nutritional deficiency, such as pancreatic insufficiency or enzyme deficiency may be the cause, but parasites and malabsorption should be considered as well. A visit to the vet to have your dog’s stool checked will rule out any parasitic activity.
Also, if your dog has been eating poop, his chance of developing parasites has greatly increased, so it would be wise to have his stool tested, and treat him if necessary. Speaking with your veterinarian to create a balanced nutritious diet regimen, with a high-quality dog food including supplements should help.
Once you’ve ruled out any serious health issues, it’s likely that your dog is eating poop for one of the following reasons:
Stave Off Starvation
As the descendants of wild scavengers, domestic canines display powerful survival instincts. While some humans might baulk at the thought of eating yesterday’s leftovers from the refrigerator, dogs sometimes lack discernment when it comes to taste.
In lean times, scientists have observed dogs eating animal carcasses in all states of decomposition. So, it should not surprise us if our pets can not wait to dig into the rotting dog food they just excreted.
Free Dietary Supplements
Pet owners should consider coprophagia the most recurrent doggy fad diet of all time. When dogs lack sufficient nutrition, they like to recycle what they have already eaten, digested, and defecated. This disgusting habit allows our pets to squeeze every last bit of vitamins and minerals from available foodstuffs.
Waste Not, Want Not
Sometimes, the answer to the question, “Why do dogs eat poop?” is simple: Because they can. Just like humans who love to walk down to the corner shop for snacks and drinks, dogs eat doo-doo out of convenience.
We often see this in female dogs burdened with a new litter of puppies, as well as the puppies themselves. Indeed, consuming critter crap may mean the difference between life and death for runts who find themselves out-competed for mother’s milk by their siblings.
It’s also possible that your dog is just bored, and anxiety brought on by nutritional deficiencies can also cause this behaviour.
Should I Be Worried About My Dog Eating Poop?
Whether you should be worried about your dog eating poop depends almost entirely upon the circumstances.
If you have invited your boss over for dinner and your dog decides to demonstrate autocoprophagia, then you might want to worry a little bit.
However, if you worry that your dog may get sick, you can stop now. It’s normal for dogs to eat poop, and they rarely get sick from it.
Is It Normal for My Dog to Eat Poop?
Dining on poop represents normal behaviour for some dogs. In rare cases, your otherwise scatophobic pet may start downing dung due to deleterious health conditions, including digestion problems.
If your puppy has begun eating poop, you should consider guiding it away from the practice with better alternatives. Chastising your new pet may cause it to associate eating poop with attention from you; so, refrain from utilizing negative reinforcement because you might imbed the behaviour even deeper into your puppy’s personality.
If your old dog starts chowing down on its cha-chas, you should schedule a visit to your local vet. In most cases, an elderly dog that starts eating poop will receive a clean bill of health from the veterinarian. However, it always makes sense to check with the experts to set your mind at ease.
Can a Dog Get Sick From Eating Poop?
On occasion, a dog may fall ill after eating poop. In most cases, the poop in question comes from that of other dogs or animals. Allocoprophagia, or the eating of others’ poop, proves more harmful to a dog’s health than autocoprophagia.
While eating its own poop will most likely cause no harm, your dog may experience mild to severe symptoms after eating foreign faeces. In the case of eating other dog crap, your dog may contract diseases common to most dogs. If your dog consumes cow patties or the booboos of other barnyard animals, it may contract a more exotic disease. In both cases, your dog runs the risk of ingesting medicines or toxins expelled through the ani of others.
Should I Clean My Dog’s Mouth After a Bout of Coprophagia?
Even though your dog eats poop, its mouth is still cleaner than yours.
However, you may not want to put that assertion to the test immediately after your dog scarfs the scat. If you want, you can clean your dog’s mouth, so you feel better about receiving all those doggie kisses.
Try brushing your dog’s teeth or even wiping your dog’s mouth with a clean cloth. Purchase special dog toothpaste to make the experience that much more fun.
Should You Stop Your Dog From Eating Poop?
Whether you should stop your dog from eating poop depends on its origin. Whose poop is it, anyway?
If your dog only eats its own poop, you have little cause for concern but can still stop your dog from doing it if it bothers you.
If your dog eats all the poop it can find regardless of where it came from, you should consider working with your pet to stop the behavior.
Check out some of the ways you can prevent your dog from eating poop below.
No one would blame you if they found out you did not know poop is acidic. If you put together a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water and spray it on the poop, some dogs find it too acidic to eat.
Check the distance between your doggie bowl and your dog’s nearest pooping spot. If they sit too close to each other, then your dog may make an association between dinnertime and the smell of poop.
Look for sprays, tablets, and chewables that help deter your dog from eating poop. You can find several remedies for coprophagia at your local pet store.
The Bottom Line
Why do dogs eat poop? In general, a small percentage of dogs will eat poop because their ancestors were scavengers that ate anything with a modicum of nutrition. The longer your dog demonstrates the behaviour, the more difficult it becomes to correct.
As with most bad habits, try retraining your dog early and often to change its behaviour. And, if you notice a sudden change in your dog’s dietary habits, see a veterinarian to rule out any serious health concerns.