Why Do Dogs Eat Their Own Poop & Vet's Way to Stop It
Eating dog poop is a nasty habit with numerous potential causes. It even has a name... coprophagia. Although it's disgusting to us, many animals regularly engage in this behaviour. Why then do dogs consume faeces? To give you all you require in one blog, we made an effort to gather as much information as we could. We hope that by reading this, you can better understand your dog.
What is Coprophagia?
The act of ingesting poop is known as coprophagia (kop-ruh-fey-jee-uh). Nothing is more repulsive to a dog owner than having their dog consume its own or another dog's faeces and then have the dog stroll over while wagging its tail and asking for a kiss and some encouraging words.
In some circumstances, canines may exhibit coprophagia as typical behaviour. Bitches naturally eat the waste products left behind by their own young, probably to keep the nest clean. This action has a survival benefit because it prevents unsanitary conditions from arising in the nest, a situation that may cause illness.
Many puppies go through an oral stage where they use their lips to explore everything, occasionally consuming various non-food substances, including poo.
Most puppies eventually realise that food tastes better than pee, and they vow never again to consume pee for the rest of their lives. After their first year, most puppies stop eating their waste, while some older puppies may do so for a few months.
The majority of the time, a combination of management adjustments (exercise, diet, and supervised outdoor excursions) and environmental changes can successfully treat coprophagy at home. However, occasionally, a medical disease may present itself in the same way. Your veterinarian can assist in excluding such disorders.
Scientific Research on Dog Eating Poop
Despite being disgusting to human sensibilities, dog eating poop is actually not that bad for dogs. Animal behaviourist Steven R. Lindsay writes in his Handbook of Applied Dog Behaviour and Training that coprophagia "may be one of many instinctual survival behaviours that have emerged to cope with the occasional adversity of hunger."
Dr Hart's research on this behaviour was done at the University of California's School of Veterinary Medicine. Two online surveys were used since a sizable sample of canines was required to address these issues. One produced 1552 returns and was designed to compare coprophagic dogs and non-coprophagic canines. The other, which produced 1475 useful results, targeted owners of canine coprophagia to compile data on the traits of coprophagy and the efficacy of treatment. The results showed that -
- Dogs that haven't been neutered are less prone to eat their own waste than female dogs.
- Coprophagia is more prevalent in households with many dogs (compared to 20% in single-dog homes and 33% in homes with three or more dogs).
- 92% of faeces eaters favour poop that is just one or two days old.
- Dogs hardly ever consume soft, irregular faeces or diarrhoea. They are particularly drawn to faeces that are firm or even frozen.
- Only 15% of dog excrement eaters consume their own faeces.
- Dogs who take food from tables also frequently eat their own faeces.
- There was no proof connecting the coprophagy to diet or the age of the dog.
Why do Dogs Eat Their Own Poop - Medical Reasons
Why do dogs eat their own poop? There are two main reasons behind this - medical and behavioural. The following medical conditions could be the root of your dog's poop-eating behaviour:
Canines' normal diets today are less varied than those of wild dogs before domestication. As a result, their systems frequently lack the necessary digestive enzymes to properly process their food. You can make sure your dog is getting optimal nutrition absorption by adding a decent digestive enzyme to his meal.
EPI – Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
Supplements are necessary to prevent dogs with EPI from progressively starving since they are unable to digest and absorb nutrition. Weight loss, extreme hunger, stool eating, and diarrhoea are symptoms. Despite being a serious condition, EPI is manageable with diet and supplementation.
IBD - Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Your dog may turn to eat stool as a result of the persistent inflammation caused by IBD that prevents him from absorbing nutrients. Chronic diarrhoea and unexplained weight loss are other symptoms.
Your dog is deprived of nutrients because of parasites. To determine whether your dog has worms or other parasites like giardia or coccidia, you might need to bring a sample of faeces to your veterinarian for testing.
Numerous meals can aid in your dog's parasite removal.
Dogs who have diabetes and hypothyroidism may experience hunger. Steroids, for example, can make your dog ravenous. Your dog will search for nutrients in excrement if he is lacking in them. When they are undernourished, dogs eat faeces.
Why Does My Dog Eat Poop - Check His Behaviour!
There are a few possibilities, but no one is certain about why dogs eat their own poop. Dogs may consume faeces for several reasons, including amusement, fear of punishment, and nervousness.
Dogs use their sense of smell to explore, and to them, fresh faeces smell wonderful. Your dog might enjoy eating excrement if he's bored.
Your dog might consume more excrement if you react when he is eating it. In contrast, if your dog has accidents within the house, he might ingest his waste out of fear of being caught.
When dogs are anxious, they will occasionally consume things they shouldn't, including faeces. Another unfortunate reality is that puppies raised on puppy farms have stressful surroundings. and have received inadequate nutrition.
Canines learn from other canines. Therefore, if your dog observes another dog enjoying a tasty poop snack, he may decide to try it since he may believe it to be a high-value treat.
Why Puppies Eat Their Own Poop
Although they are still in the litter, puppies may start eating poop. Usually, the mother eats her puppies' poop to keep the "den" tidy and to safeguard the puppies from potential predators attracted by the aroma.
The absence of predators in your home is irrelevant. Due to evolution, all animals raise their young in the same manner. Mamma dogs will behave like this until her puppies are weaned.
Puppies learn from their mother, so they might naturally behave the same way. Puppies' natural curiosity may also cause them to taste, smell, and eat the excrement.
Around the time the puppies start eating solid food and can leave the den to relieve themselves, the mother normally stops consuming her puppies' waste. However, a puppy might continue doing so until he is older.
To discourage this practice early on, you should always clean up after the puppies before they eat them. It's possible that this rapid cleaning wasn't a habit in your puppy's first home because you probably got the puppy after it had been taken from its mother.
Why Does My Dog Eat Poop - Your Dog Can Suffer From Pica!
Why do dogs eat their own poop? It may be a sign of pica, a more severe behaviour problem. Pica can cause dogs to crave and eat non-food items. Some dogs might only eat one type of thing, while others might eat a variety of them. Because what a dog swallows may be poisonous, interfere with regular digestive functions, or become trapped in their intestinal tract, pica puts their health at threat.
Finding the cause of pica can be challenging, even though detecting it may not be difficult. The condition can be intensified by anything, including malnutrition, dietary deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, and illnesses including thyroid and diabetes. Breeds like Labrador Retrievers are more susceptible to pica.
Your veterinarian may need to perform blood, urine, stool, and other tests to look for poor digestion/malabsorption, the presence of parasites, and more to identify whether an underlying medical condition is to blame.
Additionally, emotional problems like stress and separation anxiety can cause pica. Dogs with separation anxiety are often thought of as destructive, but occasionally they also devour some or all of the things they are destroying. And energetic dogs will usually look for something to do when they are bored.
In order to treat pica, one might need to take two separate approaches: first, deal with any underlying medical or behavioural problems, and second, if none are discovered, work to avoid the development of pica.
Why Dogs Eat Other Animals’ Poop
Why does my dog eat poop? This is one of the most disgusting questions one has to ask as a dog parent! 😥 Sometimes dog not only eats their own poop, but they also can savour other animals' faeces. Though why?
The digestive system of a meat eater (your dog) can benefit from the enzymes and partially digested protein found in the faeces of herbivores, such as horses, cows, and other animals that consume herbs or grasses. Therefore, nature might be telling your dog to give their stressed-out digestive tract some horse probiotics.
Of course, it would be an issue if the horse or cow had just had worms or was unwell. I'm not advocating that dogs should eat horse manure in addition to their regular food; I'm just explaining why dogs seem to like it.
Your dog can easily find a tempting surprise in a cat litter box. When you start to question why the litter box is clean, you might not even be aware that he is doing it.
However, why do dogs enjoy cat poop? Your cat's excrement probably smells like food to your dog since it contains cat food that has been digested. Cans of cat food are popular with many dogs (which is why vets often recommend it for giving dogs medication). Your cat's excrement will smell even more like food if his digestion isn't optimal, luring your dog to sneak a treat when you're not looking.
Will Eating Dog Poop Make The Dog Sick?
Even while eating excrement is a common pastime, it still has the potential to get your dog sick. Internal parasites are frequently transmitted between dogs or to dogs from other animals through eating faeces.
The most obvious issue brought on by coprophagy is bad breath. Parts of their excrement will become trapped on the outside of their teeth or in between them as they eat it, giving them bad breath. Faeces include bacteria that, when consumed often by dogs, can lead to periodontal disease.
Additionally, ingesting excrement can cause dogs to contract other contagious gastrointestinal illnesses. Contact with contaminated excrement is a common way to spread bacterial and viral infections to dogs. Some of these illnesses can spread to other people.
Your dog might unintentionally get an illness from excrement in specific situations. Your dog might become ill from stepping on an area where an infectious animal had previously pooped if it simply licked its own feet after going outside. Even weeks after the excrement has disappeared, this may still occur, leaving behind infectious particles or parasitic eggs that are invisible to the unaided eye.
If any of the animals in your home are on medicine, take caution. There have been incidents of drug toxicity caused by dogs ingesting the faeces of housemates who were taking thyroid medicines and carprofen.
Dog Eating Poop - When Should You Contact The Vet?
We hope that now you understand why dogs eat poop. But is it serious enough to contact the vet?
For yearly health checks and routine analysis, it's crucial to bring excrement samples to your veterinarian. This might help your veterinarian keep an eye on your dog's diet and nutritional requirements as well as look for any other digestive problems.
Make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as you realise if your dog becomes ill or exhibits symptoms of an upset stomach after eating faeces. Dog warning signs to watch for include:
- Lack of appetite
- Not acting like themselves
Additionally, you should inform your vet of any home changes that could impact you and your dogs, such as family disputes or home renovations. Stress in the home can affect your dog's behaviour.
Also, tell your vet if your adult dog has started eating faeces after never doing so previously. Your veterinarian may want to look into this since it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
Your Dog is Eating Poop - What to do Now! 🤢
It's crucial that you remain calm and don't react negatively if you catch your dog eating poop. Never yell at or punish your dog because this could lead to other behavioural problems. Keep in mind that consuming waste is a behaviour that comes naturally to them, making it difficult to break.
One of the most upsetting aspects of dog eating poop is knowing that they will later try to kiss you or have foul-smelling breath. Obviously, you have to clean them now. But, how?
Quick Clean Method
- Give your dog food and water. Saliva naturally cleans your dog's mouth after meals, and water naturally flushes bacteria and food remnants from the mouth.
- Give your dog a chewy treat or stick. Saliva will naturally clean your puppy's mouth, and the dental treat will produce friction to remove debris.
- Use some gauze or a face cloth dipped in coconut oil or salt water to wrap a finger. Wipe the puppy's tongue, gums, and roof of the mouth. Avoid inserting your finger too deeply inside the mouth of your puppy to prevent making them vomit.
- Use a commercial dog mouthwash in your puppy's mouth by swishing it on a towel or combining it with water. Avoid giving mouthwash to people.
Brush Their Teeth
- Apply a canine toothbrush. It will be simpler to clean because they are designed specifically to reach all surfaces of the canine teeth. If you don't have a toothbrush on hand, use a child's toothbrush.
- Your puppy's cheek flaps, teeth, and gums can be seen by lifting its lip up and away from its teeth.
- Gently place the toothbrush in your puppy's mouth and brush its teeth there. If your dog has never done this before, you will need to be patient and move carefully. As you walk, give your dog treats and lots of love to cheer him on.
- Do not use human mouthwash for your dog since it is potentially toxic.
- To prevent causing your puppy to puke up, avoid placing your finger or toothbrush too deeply inside their mouth.
- Use dog toothpaste in place of human toothpaste, which could contain harmful ingredients.
Dog Eating Poop - Address The Inadequate Nutrition Issues
Whether your dog has coprophagia or pica, it may be the result of poor nutrition.
Healthy, Complete And Balanced Diet
Making the right food selections at meals is the most important step in helping him overcome his habit. A high-quality diet is crucial in our opinion for many reasons. In this scenario, dogs eating a poor quality meal won't obtain enough of the essential nutrients and would seek "supplements" in unhygienic surroundings.
Pumpkin as Supplement
Unseasoned canned pumpkin is a nourishing dietary supplement with a wide range of uses. Include it in your pet's diet to keep him full. Added benefit? It eases both diarrhoea and constipation, and it might even improve urinary tract health.
A dog multivitamin may be useful because it has long been believed that dogs eat excrement. After all, their diets are deficient in one or more vitamins. Vitamin-B deficiency has been a popular notion, and research has supported this. In 1981, scientists discovered that the B vitamin thiamine was created by stool microbial activity. Other studies discovered further nutritional gaps.
Compared to the canine ancestral diet, the modern canine diet has more carbohydrates and fewer meat-based proteins and lipids. Supplements for dogs that contain the digestive enzyme papain have been effective for some persons.
Make The Poop Less Appealing
According to the concept, adding a faeces-eating deterrent to food or treats will make the poop that is being generated less appetising since certain tastes and scents are as repulsive to dogs as the concept of stool eating is to us. Monosodium glutamate, camomile, derivatives of the pepper plant, yucca, garlic, and parsley are included in a lot of these products. Just remember to treat every dog in the house if there is a poop-eating problem! Some owners will also apply a spray with a bitter flavour to make the faeces taste worse.
Talk to The Vet
Despite the fact that vitamins, minerals, and enzymes are essential for your pet's health, some of them may be harmful if ingested in excess. Never change your dog's diet or hunt for solutions to problems without first seeing a vet or other dog care specialist! Check your dog's food sensitivities before using any of these foods.
Why Does My Dog Eat Poop? Because It’s There!!
Now you know why dogs eat poop, you might give some thought to preventing it. Sometimes dogs eat poop because it is there. Give them fewer chances. If your dog is eating poop for reasons other than illness or lack of nourishment, the best method to stop them is to take away the temptation. Your excrement-loving dog won't eat it if you never let them go close to it. They are unable to order it online. Keep their box and other living spaces clean, wipe up any excrement they pass while you're out for a walk, and do your best to limit their access to areas where they might find their favourite guilty pleasure (their own or other animals' waste). This includes securing the cat's litter box out of the way, among other things.
You can use a poop scooper to remove the excrement immediately. The poop scooper by Dry Paws comes with a waste bag holder built-in. It is portable, eco-friendly, and simple to use.
No matter how careful you are, a dog will inevitably come into contact with faeces at some point in the day. It's a good idea to have some plans in place for situations like that. for instance.
Teach "leave it" and recall: The "leave it" command is a flexible technique that can prevent your dog from ingesting not only intestinal nuggets, but also a wide range of foods, items, and prey. Read our introduction to "leave it" to get started using this useful command.
You might want to give dog daycares or other places a second thought if your dog can't resist the siren song of faeces. Because they might have access to other dogs' deposits in a daycare. Such establishments' staff are unlikely to be completely successful in cleaning up after and managing dogs that are determined to eat doody.
How to Resist Your Dog From Eating Other Animals’ Poop
The fix is reasonably easy to implement at home. Purchase a cat litter box with a lid so he can't stick his nose inside of it, and store potties and litter trays in areas where your dog is not allowed.
Since many dogs seem to particularly like eating cat poop, some dogs may view a cat's litter box as an irresistible buffet. Try these methods to sway your dog:
- More frequently empty the litter box for your cat.
- relocating the litter box so that your cat can get it but not your dog. Such as high up on a table, behind a stair gate with a cat flap in.
Restrict the area where your horse and cows typically relieve themselves outside. Get the area cleaned as quickly as you can.
To Stop Your Dog Eating Poop, Prevent Anxiety And Boredom
If your dog is eating poop because of anxiety and boredom, then you should consider changing your behaviour. More care, activity, and mental stimulation should be given to them. Giving your dog additional things to do with their physical and mental energies may help them stop eating their own waste if you've ruled out medical and nutritional factors for the behaviour. Read our post on how to prevent anxiety in dogs and how to offer your dog a more fulfilling existence.
Consider hiring a trainer. If your dog is eating poop for behavioural reasons and your personal efforts aren't stopping the activity, don't lose patience and discipline your dog. Instead, think about getting in touch with a qualified trainer who can assist your friend in avoiding stool.
The Bottom Line
For many animal species, including dogs, eating faeces is a common practice. However, dogs who eat poop are more likely to contract a parasite or sickness, so you should try to prevent this activity. While you're out strolling, pick up any excrement in your yard and keep your dog on a leash and away from it. Make an appointment with a board-certified veterinary behaviourist in your area to receive assistance and advice, or request a checkup from your veterinarian.