Your dog can develop gross habits sometimes. She drinks from the toilet. She loves to roll in dirt, muck, and grass. She licks her butt. She scavenges in the trash. She eats poop.
The last habit is particularly disgusting. Seeing your dog happily scarfing down foul-smelling poop could put you off cuddling your dog. Forget about allowing her to lick your face!
If you’re facing such a dilemma, then let’s talk more about why some dogs eat poop and how you can stop it if your dog has such a habit.
Reasons Why Do Dogs Eat Poop
Did you know that eating poop is considered normal for many animals? The scientific name for this habit is coprophagia (pronounced KOP-ruh-fey-jee-uh). Some dogs eat their poop (autocoprophagia) or other animals’ feces (allocoprophagia).
The freshness and state of the poop are factors that influence the decision of a dog to eat it, according to some studies. Fresh poop or one that is only about two days old is fair game. Something older could be ignored. Hard or firm poop is preferable to something liquid or very soft.
Experts have not pinpointed the exact cause of coprophagia among pets despite the many studies they have already conducted. However, experts have discovered that the following conditions could trigger poop eating:
Is your dog still a puppy? Puppies are curious beings like human babies. They love exploring the world — often by smelling and eating everything, including poop. The American Kennel Club explained that when they are nine months old, puppies could grow out of eating poop.
Puppies could also imitate the habit of an older dog who loves to eat poop.
Also, dog mothers lick their puppies to stimulate them to pee and poop. Sometimes the mothers intentionally or unintentionally eat the poop of her young.
On the other hand, her puppies might smell their excretions on their mother’s tongue or regurgitated food and believe that the poop is okay to be inside their mouth as well.
2. Food rivalry
Besides your dog, do you have more pets? Multi-pet household dogs are more likely to consume poop. Whether or not other pets attempt to steal food from your dog, your dog likely feels she needs to consume anything edible before other pets can get to it.
Your dog requires some good nutrients to be healthy. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the optimum nutrients she requires are not contained in her food. Kibble or wet dog food of low quality does not contain sufficient vitamins and minerals. Raw diets may not provide sufficient calcium or protein.
Also, its digestive system may not properly absorb the nutrients from its food. This is referred to as malabsorption. The digestive system of your dog does not properly process the nutrients. So, she poops undigested foods.
Your dog instinctively understands when nutrients are lacking in her body. So, she’s going to attempt to get the nutrients from other sources, including her poop. In her poop, she might smell the undigested food, which might make her believe it’s food as well.
4. Intestinal parasites
Related to the third reason, worms or other parasites inhabiting the intestines of your dog will leech the nutrients from the food of your dog before they can be absorbed by your body. She’s going to attempt to find another source to get those nutrients back.
Plus, parasites could make your dog always hungry. If this happens, she will consider anything food, even poop.
Your dog could be suffering from one of the following illnesses:
- Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI): your dog’s pancreas usually excretes enzymes that assist digest food and absorb nutrients into your body. If the pancreas does not work properly, the nutrients she requires will be missing from your dog.
- diabetes: this illness might make your dog always hungry.
- thyroid issues: like diabetes, this could make your dog always hungry.
In connection with illnesses, if your dog is on medication, she might either be always hungry or reacting to the drugs being given to her by eating her poop.
Speaking of your dog being always hungry, are you feeding her properly? Could you possibly not be feeding her enough?
Her breed, age, weight, metabolic system, and physical activity will need to be considered. You will need to change how much you feed her and what her feeding schedule should be, depending on the demands of your dog.
Remember that underfeeding her might cause her to eat anything in the house, including her poop and furniture. On the other hand, overfeeding could lead to obesity, a condition that your dog doesn’t want to have.
7. Canine DNA
In the wild, wolves will eat the poop of members of the sick or elderly pack to protect their pack against predators that may target the weak members. If she begins eating the poop of an elderly or ill dog in your family, your good dog may exhibit conduct that she has inherited from her ancestors.
Your dog’s sense of smell is very strong. However, what smells bad for you might not smell bad for her. Humans do not mind the smell of alcohol, citrus, pepper, perfume, and vinegar. Dogs hate these. On the other hand, dogs love the smell of poop, rot, and trash.
Again, this conduct is likely inherited. Ancient wolves had to hunt and scavenge their food. They learned to consume all kinds of food — fresh kill, rotten flesh from other animals’ kill, and waste from human settlements.
Adult wolves also poop out the eggs of parasites living in their intestines. They instinctively eat the poop so that the puppies do not get infected by the parasites.
8. Psychological reasons
Your dog might be bored, stressed, or seeking your attention.
Do you keep your dog isolated or in a kennel all day long? Is her kennel too small or restrictive for her? These situations could be triggering her boredom or stress. To relieve her feelings, she could resort to eating her poop.
She could have learned that if she eats her poop, she will get your attention when you scold her.
Speaking of scolding, if she eats her poop, do you punish your dog? If you do, she could have connected the punishment with poop. She tries to eat the “evidence” before it is discovered to prevent punishment. She may eventually develop a worse habit that will cause her to seek out and eat any poop, not just her excretions.
How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Poop
Many owners have despaired of stopping their dogs from eating poop. Some have even given up and put their dogs in shelters because of this “problem,” which is an unfortunate outcome of what is a natural canine behavior.
If, however, you still want to help your dog then you could try the following tactics:
1. Supplement your dog’s food
Consult your vet on what vitamins and supplements could complement your dog’s diet.
Multivitamins and supplements for dogs are sold in pet shops. You have to be cautious, though. Giving too much vitamin or mineral to your dog might also harm her. If she receives too much calcium, for instance, then her bones may become weak and brittle. Excessive vitamin A may cause diarrhea, dehydration, or painful joints.
This is why consulting your vet is important. If your dog is already getting the proper nutrients, ask your vet for the best type of treats to supplement her diet to keep her hunger at bay in between meals.
2. Clean everything, fast
Monitor your dog carefully and immediately pick up after her when she poops, especially during your walks or when she is sick. In this way, she will not have any chance to smell her poop.
Keep her on a leash at all times when she is outside so that you can guide her away from the poop of other animals.
Keep your house and yard clean so your dog will not have any chance to eat poop, even from other pets.
If you have a cat, keep the litter box out of your dog’s reach. If you have a human baby, put the soiled diaper in the trash bin right away. Make sure that your dog cannot open or get into your trash bin.
3. Change the odor
Spray the poop with smells your dog hates as a deterrent. You will have to do it fast, but if you do it often enough, your dog will probably start avoiding her poop and you can break her out of her poop-eating habit.
4. Train your dog
Potty training is essential for dogs. Your dog has a schedule for pooping. Train her to poop in a specific area. Limit the area she can move around if she’s a puppy. Make sure she can still play and run broad enough, but small enough to be able to monitor her. Prepare some treats when you see your dog being agitated and ready to poop. Entice her to leave her poop alone by displaying the treats when she finishes doing a number two.
You could use this time to train her to obey commands like “come” or “leave it” so that she will know the proper behavior after pooping.
Do not punish your dog if accidents still occur. You and your dog might end up in a vicious cycle of punishment and guilt, as stated earlier. If you punish her for eating her poop, she may eat the evidence out of fear, but then you still find out what she has done and punish her; thus, an endless cycle develops.
As a responsible owner, you need to be firm but still kind to your pet. Remember, poop eating is just like other dog behaviors considered “bad” like biting and chewing on furniture. You can train your dog with a lot of patience, time, and treats.
5. Keep your dog occupied
Play with your dog. If you can’t play with her, keep her occupied with toys that stimulate and entertain her both physically and mentally. This is especially important when she is still a puppy who will get bored easily.
6. Check for possible illnesses
Check your dog’s poop for worms and other parasites. Monitor the amount she is eating. If she seems hungry all the time, bring your dog to the vet. She could be suffering from an illness affecting her digestion.
Giving doggy kisses is one of many ways your dog demonstrates love for you. Make sure she eats only what you’ve provided and not what she’s defecated to keep enjoying her slobbers.