Let’s talk about something many dog owners find a bit gross – dogs eating poop. The technical term for this is coprophagia. While it might be a little unsettling for us, it’s not all that strange in the world of dogs, particularly with puppies. Puppies are curious little creatures and might taste poop in their environmental exploration. With age, most dogs tend to grow out of this habit. However, some continue to chow down on poop, even as adults.
The Inside Scoop on Dogs Who Eat Poop
Young dogs, especially puppies, are notorious for this habit. They’re exploring and learning about the world, and this is one way they do it. Don’t worry; it’s not just your dog – many of them do it!
Oddly enough, dogs prefer poop from other species, such as cats or deer, more than dog poop. This may seem strange, but it relates to their wild ancestors who used feces to get important information about potential prey.
But, if your adult dog is eating poop, particularly their own or that of other dogs, it might indicate a bigger problem with their health or behavior.
The Poop-Eating Puzzle: Why Do Dogs Do It?
Health and Dietary Factors
Sometimes dogs might eat poop because their diet lacks something. They may be trying to replace missing nutrients or enzymes in their diet. Feeding your furry friend too much, too little, or giving them poor-quality food can also result in this behavior.
Other times, your dog might have a health condition such as diabetes, thyroid disease, or problems with nutrient absorption, and their body is trying to get extra nutrients by eating poop.
Aside from health and diet, dogs might eat poop due to behavior-related issues like anxiety, stress, wanting to grab your attention or boredom. Some dogs might eat poop to keep their living area clean or because they’ve been punished for pooping indoors before and want to eliminate the “evidence.”
Breaking the Habit: How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Poop
While it might be a common habit, it’s best to discourage your dog from poop-eating to avoid health complications. Here are some simple ways to do that:
Change Their Chow
You might first want to look at what’s in your dog’s bowl. Is their food giving them all the nutrients they need? You might need to switch to higher-quality dog food or add some supplements. But remember, before you make any drastic changes, it’s always good to chat with your vet.
Regular Vet Visits
Keeping up with your dog’s regular vet check-ups can help you nip any potential health problems. The vet can do some tests and rule out any underlying health conditions causing your dog’s coprophagia.
Training and Keeping Things Clean
You can train your dog to stop eating poop. The ‘leave it’ command can be useful when they show interest in feces. Plus, cleaning up after your dog promptly means no poop left for them to eat!
You can also try some products that make poop taste bad to dogs. Add these to your dog’s food, and the poop tastes terrible. While it might not work for all dogs, it’s worth a shot, especially if used with other strategies.
Keep Them Entertained
If your dog is eating poop out of boredom or stress, try to keep them entertained with more walks, playtime, and toys that make them think.
The key is to be patient, stay consistent, and get professional help if needed. Each dog is different, so it might take some time and a few trials to determine what works best for your four-legged friend. But once you do, you’ll have a happier and healthier dog.
Can eating poop make my dog sick?
Yes, it can potentially make your dog sick. The feces might contain parasites, viruses, or toxins that could harm your dog. It’s especially risky if your dog eats the feces of wild animals or other dogs with health issues.
Are certain breeds more likely to engage in coprophagia?
Some studies suggest that certain breeds may be more prone to this behavior than others. For example, Terriers, Labradors, and Beagles seem to have a higher incidence of coprophagia. However, any breed can develop this habit due to various factors discussed in the article.
Can the mother dog eating the puppies’ poop encourage them to do the same?
It’s natural for mother dogs to clean their puppies and their environment by eating the puppies’ feces. This behavior, however, doesn’t necessarily encourage the puppies to eat poop. Puppies are likelier to do this out of curiosity or mimic adult dogs.
Are there any specific tests my vet can run to determine why my dog eats poop?
Your vet can perform various tests to rule out any medical problems. This might include blood tests to check for conditions like diabetes, fecal tests to check for parasites, and potentially tests to check for problems with nutrient absorption.
Can stress or anxiety lead my dog to eat its poop?
Yes, stress or anxiety can lead to many behavioral issues in dogs, including eating poop. If a recent change in your dog’s environment or routine might cause stress, it could contribute to this behavior. Consulting with a dog behaviorist or trainer might be helpful in such cases.