Every pet owner has witnessed their adorable dog eating poop… or droppings from other animals. Some may find it to be amusing and some even find it to be endearing (Weird right?). However, if your dog is eating feces on a regular basis, it could be an indicator of an underlying medical or behavioral issue.
Think about it. Your dog eats poop, then runs up and licks your face. Ewww… Gross, right? Or perhaps decides to trek traces of the droppings into your home or car. That can’t be healthy, can it? Not every instance of a pup eating poop is particularly unhealthy. However as stated above, it could be an indicator of more serious issues.
In the following article, we shall take a look at some of the reasons why your pooch may be feasting on feces, as well as provide you with advice on how to curb this behavior.
You see your dog eating poop or that of another household pet. This includes munching on droppings in your cat’s litter box, eating fecal matter of another pet on your property or randomly eating poop when out in a dog park or out for a walk. This could prove to be a concern especially if the poop is infected with worms or other parasites, it could lead to serious medical concerns such as giardia, coccidia or other such parasitic infections.
If your pup eats his or her feces or the fecal remains from others, do not immediately go into panic mode. You are not alone. 24% of dogs have been caught in the act at least once. However, 1 in 6 dogs are “habitual” poop eaters, meaning they have been witnessed feasting on feces on five or more occasions.
Dog Eating Poop – Coprophagia
The technical name for this behaviour is “coprophagia.” And yes, while it is a part of the maturing process and taking in the world around them, it can also be a serious issue. The majority of dogs will simply sniff fecal matter and walk way, but others will not be satisfied with simply a sniff and thus indulge in consuming the feces. As a rule, most dogs will not eat runny, soft stools but rather prefer harder fecal matter. In fact, some dogs are particularly fond of “poopsicles” or frozen stools found in colder climates.
Recent studies have indicated that dogs who live in multi pet households are 20% more likely to be poop-eaters. Females dogs tend to be guilty of eating poop more often than males. It is estimated that 85% of those dogs who consume fecal matter on a regular basis will rarely eat their own stools.
If your normally healthy adult canine starts to feast on fecal matter, you should make an appointment with your vet, You should rule out issues such as nutritional or vitamin deficiencies, digestive disorders, parasitic infections, side effects from medications and disease such as Cushings, diabetes, or thyroid issues.
First things first, let’s take a look at some reasons why your canine friend might be indulging in this behaviour.
Reasons Why Your Dog Is Eating Poop
Dogs may eat poop in their home environment as a means to keep their living space clean and tidy. This is especially common in dogs that have been previously scolded or harshly disciplined for pottying accidents. They will eat their poop out of fear or to avoid evoking their owner’s anger and for fear of being yelled at or scolded.
If your pooch is eating feces, it could be due to the fact that there is he/she has some type of nutritional imbalance. Often, the stool will contain nutrients and minerals that are undigested. Your pup will then consume the poop to make up for the imbalance.
Dogs often eat their poop when they are anxious or stressed. A sudden change in routine, a move or a new addition to the family may be contributing factors to increased levels of stress or anxiety in your pooch.
If your pooch is under stimulated, bored or lonely, she or he may even play with their poop or even eat it.
If your pup feels neglected, he or she may eat poop to get your attention. If they are feeling sad or lonely, they may eat feces to get any attention whatsoever, be it positive or negative. They may feel that you are not giving them enough attention, love or affection.
If your dog has trouble properly digesting his food, he may eat his feces to soothe his tummy or digestive tract. Simply switching to a higher grade food might remedy this situation.
Your dog may be eating poop simply because s/he is hungry. Growing puppies need to be fed several times a day and if they are hungry between feedings, they may turn to eating their feces as a “snack.”
Strangely enough, your dog might simply enjoy the taste of poop. Just like us, dogs have their own set of likes and dislikes, as well as unique traits and behaviors.
On another note, if your dog has worms or an intestinal parasite, it may be eating poop as it is hungry due to the fact that the worms, etc are depleting its nutritional supply. In this case, you definitely need to take your dog to the vet right away.
Too Much Time in a Confined Restricted Area
If your dog is spending too much time in a small or restricted space, it might also eat poop to act out. Often dogs who have been in crowded animal shelters or puppy mills will develop the habit of eating feces.
Dogs who are left alone in secluded areas such as basements, kennels or garages tend to eat their fecal matter more than those dogs who are in close proximity of their owners.
Inappropriate Association with Real Food
If you feed your pet close to their potty area, they may unconsciously make a connection between the scents of both their food and poop. Often they will eat their poop as they are unable to distinguish between the two odors.
If your dog is not the alpha of the pack, he or she may eat poop as a sign of submission to the alpha.
Natural Instinct/Learned Behaviour
A new mother will often eat her pup’s stools to keep their area clean as well as to protect them from eating their own feces. The puppies will then mimic this behaviour. Some of them will naturally outgrow this behaviour, while others continue to eat their poop as it is a learned behaviour from their mother and a means of keeping their environment safe and clean.
Nourishing Instinct for Another Pet in the Household Who May Be Sick/Elderly
If you have another pet in your home that is elderly or sick, your younger/healthier pooch may consume the other animals feces as a way of caring for them. Some studies indicate that this might also be a natural instinct to clean up the fecal matter to protect their pack from possible predators.
Dogs Eating Poop? Try Prevention
It is important to your dog’s health that you feed it a balanced and nutritious diet. A high quality food (whether wet, dry or raw) that is rich in nutrients, vitamins and proteins will ensure that your dog isn’t missing out on essential nutrients and doesn’t have to eat poop as a result. It is of course also vital if you want your dog to live a long and healthy life.
Dogs thrive on stability and routine. As such, they do not react well to sudden changes. If you keep your pooch on a set feeding and potty schedule, he/she will be less likely to dine on fecal matter.
A dog that leads an active and healthy lifestyle is much less likely to eat poop than one who is bored and lonely. Take your dog for long walks, engage them in play, and provide the with interactive toys to prevent boredom, anxiety, loneliness and depression.
It is always wise to supervise your pet as much as possible to prevent them from eating poop that may be infested with worms or parasites. Proper leashing when pottying, even in your own yard, is a great way to prevent your dog eating poop habit.
Dogs that live in a clean and healthy living space are way less likely to consume feces than those who live in messy and unhygienic quarters. Scoop up their droppings and immediately dispose of them. If you have cats, scoop up their fecal matter right away so as not to tempt your dog (Dogs seem to particularly enjoy the taste of cat poop for some reason). Maintain a clean and sanitary living area for both your family and your pets. It’s hygienic, more pleasant and it just makes sense all around!
Eliminate Stress & Anxiety
If your dog is anxious, depressed or stressed, it is important to determine the cause of the issue. If it’s something that can be avoided or altogether eliminated, then take all necessary precautions to resolve the situation. If it’s a situation that cannot be easily remedied such as moving houses, new addition to the family, medical issues with your pet or other lifestyle changes, there are ways you can help reduce your dog’s stress via playtime, exercise, medication or natural remedies. Discuss these issues and how they can be resolved with your veterinarian.
Proper training can help deter your canine friend from eating feces. You can simply use a command such as “Stop!,” “Leave It,” or even “NO!” If your dog has been eating poop you can use these commands to deter such behavior in the future.
Additives to Make Poop Taste Bad
Adding things such as pineapple, pumpkin or meat tenderizer that contains papain can make your dog’s stool taste bitter, thus discouraging them from eating it. However, it is important to add these in small doses. Consult your vet as to the proper dose for the breed and size of your dog. Make sure that these additives do not contain MSG, as they are harmful to our canine companions.
Following are some products that you can purchase from Kohepets to help prevent your beloved pet from eating poop.
Products To Help Discourage Your Dog Eating Poop problems
Digestive enzymes supplement
These healthy chews can help deter the habit of your dog eating poop. They aid in digestive health and any diet changes and help natural absorption as well. They are naturally wheat free too!
This product will help prevent your dog from eating fecal matter. As a bonus, it will keep your dog’s breath fresh!
This nutritional supplement contains plenty of fiber and protein and will help break the habit of your dog eating poop.
Stress & anxiety treatments
These easy to administer treats are perfect for dogs who suffer from stress or anxiety. They are veterinarian formulated and contain a high level of L-Tryptophan to help reduce stress in your furry friend and might stop your dog eating poop problems.
Thundershirts have become increasingly popular in the last decade as a means of reducing anxiety in canines. They work by applying a gentle, constant pressure which is akin to swaddling a human baby, and have a consistent 80% success rate with no harmful chemicals or known side effects. Popular with both vets and dog trainers, Thundershirt reduces anxiety, stress and excitability in dogs, and are recommended for bad weather conditions such as storms, traveling, trips to the vet, loud noises such as fireworks and for dogs who suffer from separation anxiety.
Approved by Animal Welfare Magazine in 2016, these digestive supplements are also a natural relaxant. They contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and are recommended by vets for lactose intolerant dogs and/or over-excited, anxious or nervous dogs.
Remember, these remedies are for dogs only. If your feline, rodents, reptiles or other such pets are eating fecal matter, consult your vet as to how to remedy the situation. As such, you should speak with your vet before trying any of the above products. Never add anything to your pet’s diet or medications without first seeking professional advice from a licensed veterinarian.