This is one of those questions you hate to ask, but if you’ve ever seen yours or someone else’s dog do it, then you have to wonder why dogs eat poop. It’s unsightly, unattractive, and unsafe where your dog’s health is concerned. But, if it’s any consolation, your dog is not alone in poop eating behavior.
Feces eating is quite common in the animal kingdom. For many species, poop eating, or coprophagia, serves a distinct purpose. Some animals have trouble digesting their food fully, so they eat it again to get the most nutrients out of it. Some eat poop for nutritive value alone. So why do dogs eat poop?
Why Does Dogs Eat Poop
There are many reasons why dogs eat poop. There may be something missing from their diet that they are trying to fill by eating feces, or maybe they’re just plain hungry. Another possibility is that if they are confined to a small living area for an extended period of time, they may feel the need to keep it clean. So, if a dog is hungry and living in a dirty area, he can kill two birds with one stone by eating his own excrement.
One of the possible reasons to cause a dog to seek more nutrients from poop eating is parasitical infection. Your dog might not be getting enough nutrients because of parasites or worms that suck the nutrients out of your dogs digestive system. You might be saying to yourself, “My dog doesn’t have worms!”.
And you may be right, but the dog or cat next door does, and if your pet is prone to eating feces, guess what? One gulp and Fido is infected. The point is your dog can’t satisfy his unwanted guests needs along with his own from the regular daily feeding.
Copycatting or mimicry is common and essential in the animal world, and is another possible answer to the ‘Why do dogs eat poop’ question. If a puppy sees mom or pops eating poop, then it must be a good idea. In the absence of mother and father, seeing you pick up feces may be enough to make a young dog think it is an okay thing to do. The good news is that there is a solution to dogs eating poop.
How to Modify the Behavior
Dogs, like people, are fairly predictable once you get to know them. If your dog hasn’t had the nasty habit before, but recently started eating poop, then something has changed. A dog that has hitherto now been happy and satisfied, but all of a sudden has taken to eating things he shouldn’t, could have worms or some other parasite. You’ll want to take your dog to the vet to find out what’s going on and get an effective treatment.
If your vet gives your dog the thumbs up, your dog is well nourished, and there doesn’t seem to be any other reason directly responsible for the behavior, then there are other things that can be done to prevent feces eating.
Places from where you can physically remove feces include:
- The yard. Remove poop from your yard every day.
- The curb. The neighbors will appreciate it.
- Keep areas around the property clean as well. Places like paths or alleys.
- Exercise areas like walking routes and the park.
In addition there are other physical measures you can take to control the nasty habit. There are certain tastes that most dogs hate like the bitterness of bitter apple and the heat of cayenne pepper. The neighbors may talk a little if they see you out “seasoning” the neighborhood , but some things are just worth it. If you can catch him in the act of poop eating, a good sharp “No!” can be an effective deterrent.
Stop Your Dog From Eating Poop
One fine morning you wake up to a bright sunshine and then lo and behold you notice your dog doing something strange – He was eating his own feces!
Your feelings were beyond imagination and you were most certainly clueless. You must have wondered why a dog eats feces and how this could have happened to you. Well, no worries a lot of dog owners end up in a similar situation quite often!
What to Do if Your Dog Want to Eat Poop?
Have you ever wondered what could be ‘wrong’ with your dog? Have you wondered as to why your dog took to that behavior? Has it troubled you quite often thinking about this ‘unusual’ behavior of your dog?
Do Not Be Worried!
First and foremost, when your dog eats its own feces, your cat’s or any other animal’s poop, you should know that it is neither an abnormal behavior nor is it (in most cases) a “disease” your dog is suffering from.
Believe it or not, it is but natural for a dog to eat feces; its own or some other animal’s.
Yes, the behavior certainly could seem unusual and maybe disgusting for an owner. But, the first thing you should do is NOT be worried but rather be concerned about the same!
Know the Exact Reason Why a Dog Eats Feces
The next thing for us is to understand as to why a dog eats feces. I mean, there are several reasons for the dog to have developed the habit of eating its feces.
The most important thing now is to find the exact reason behind your dog eating its feces.
The reasons could range from Behavioral to Medical to Natural causes. It could also be due to the combination of two or more of these above stated reasons.
Act to Stop Dog Poop Eating
Once you have understood the exact cause behind the behavior, act immediately.
Ideally, you could take your dog to the vet to check if there are any Medical causes like – Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, severe Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Intestinal Lymphosarcoma among other related problems. You can then proceed based on your vet’s advice in order to prevent the behavior.
If you have realized that your dog was eating its feces due to Natural or Behavioral causes you would not need the consultation of your vet and can look to eradicate the habit right in your home using one of the preventive measures.
Implement the Preventive Measure
Depending on the exact cause you could implement the required measure in order to ensure that your dog does not eat its own feces.
If the behavior is due to Medical causes then you could go as per the directions of your vet. If the cause(s) is either Behavioral or Natural, you can implement the preventive measures.
Also, you should understand that the solution to eradicate the problem can be the combination of two or more preventive measures.
Preventive Measures to Stop Poop Eating In Dogs
One of the many preventive measures necessary to help your dog from eating his/her poop is fecal removal.
In fact, fecal removal is the simplest measure that can be adopted in order to stop your dog from eating his own poop.
Sounds disgusting isn’t it and difficult too? Well, that’s how we start to train our beloved dogs so they can get rid of this seemingly unfavorable habit.
Combination of Preventive Measures
The preventive measures could be more than one and the method of implementation could be a combination of 2-3 preventive measures. Sometimes the dog needs to be trained on more than one behavioral aspect in order for us to help the dog from eating its poop.
For example, one measure could be – To immediately clean the surroundings of the dog poop (fecal removal) – but this measure alone may not help.
We may also need to immediately divert the attention of the dog after he/she has pooped and restrain it from eating the poop by using some ‘’Do Not Do That’’ commands as and when the dog tends to go near the poop.
If we do not do so, it could resort to the behavior of eating poop when we are absent from the house. The dog has to be ‘trained’ to not go near the poop and made to believe that even smelling the poop is bad.
Only when we can train the dog effectively in this manner can we hope to help stop poop eating in dogs.
Be Patient and Persistent!
You have been implementing the preventive measures, you have not missed out on anything and yet you find that your dog ‘sneaks’ out on you and continues to ‘indulge’ in the habit of eating its feces. What do you do now?
I know it can be frustrating being the owner of a dog that refuses to budge.
Sometimes it so can happen that we may end up not being regular in implementing the preventive measure(s) and other times we may just ‘get tired’ and let go of the ‘training’.
It is very essential for us to keep in mind that preventive measures can surely help the dog get rid of the habit but patience and persistence are two vital things. We need to be very patient with the whole process and persistent in the implementation, only then can we hope to achieve the ‘impossible’!
In the end, if there is nothing to cause a problem, then there is no problem. If there is no poop, no poop can be eaten. Physical removal of the feces is the easiest way to prevent your dog’s coprophagia. So, be vigilant, patient, and learn what you can about coprophagia. That way, when you’re asked,”Why do dogs eat poop?”, you’ll have the answers.