Why Do Dogs Eat Poop? Causes, Treatments, and More!Reading Time: 3 minutes
Does your dog eat poop? Every dog owner today has probably been unfortunate enough to catch their sneaky pooch sneak a piece of cat poop. But, do you ever wonder why do dogs eat poop? Well, read on as the answer might just surprise you!
Why do Dogs Eat Their Poop?
Now, why do dogs eat poop has been quite a perplexing topic amongst veterinarians. Dogs may choose to eat stool for various reasons ranging from nutritional deficiency to an underlying medical concern.
Coprophagy in Dogs
Coprophagia is a term used to describe the act of eating stool. A dog may choose to consume either the stool of another animal or another dog. Coprophagia should not be confused with Pica. Pica is a term that refers to the eating or consumption of non-food items.
When a dog chooses to consume their own stool, then this is referred to as canine conspecific coprophagy. Many pet owners report that they are often quite disturbed when they see their pooch eat stool. But, interestingly enough coprophagy in dogs is actually quite common.
Reasons Why Dogs Eat Poop and Poop of Other Animals!
If you’re wondering why do dogs eat poop, then it’s important to know that there are many reasons for this behavior. One proposed reason is actually a bit of an oxymoron!
- Blame the Wolf in them! In the wild, wolves actually prefer to keep their resting area (their den) as clean as possible. Therefore, they “clean up” their den, by consuming their own stool or stool from their pack members. As dogs have descended from wolves, scientists believe that coprophagia may be nothing more than an innate instinct to keep their dens clean.
- Got a Greedy Pooch? If you’ve got a dog who’s a bit on the greedy side, or if they sure love to beg for table scraps then chances are they’re at a high risk for developing coprophagia.
- Domesticated dogs who eat poop can also be sick! An underlying medical disorder such as deficiencies in digestive enzymes is often linked to stool eating in adult dogs.
- Attention or Anxiety: Two psychological reasons for why do dogs eat poop has been linked to anxiety, in particular, fear-based anxiety. Additionally, dog’s will also consume poop in order to generate a reaction from the human pet parents. If your vet determines this is the cause, look into CBD oil for dogs or CBD dog treats that relieve your dog of either phobias or general anxiety.
If this doesn’t make you want to take your pet to the vet, then here are more medical reasons on why do dogs eat poop!
- Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency: The pancreas is responsible for producing various enzymes that aid in the digestion of food. Wehn the pancreas is no longer able to do this, then a dog often develops exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.
- Malabsorptive syndromes: conditions where the absorptive surface of the digestive tract is disrupted, can often result in malabsorption. For example, when there are excessive amounts of bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, then a dog may be prone to malabsorptive disorders.
- Pancreatitis: Generalized inflammation of the pancreas can often lead to coprophagia as a leading symptom.
But, Is Eating Poop Bad for Dogs?
Now that you know the answer to the question, why do dogs eat poop, you may be wondering if poop eating is actually bad. Well, the answer is yes and no!
As we discussed earlier dogs eating poop is actually quite a normal behavior. However, it can still be a little dangerous. You see feces from various animals contains a range of parasites and bacteria.
So, when a dog decides to take a bite of a piece of cat poop or rat poop then this can be harmful. Not only will your dog take in parasites, but they may also develop a range of gastrointestinal diseases such as gastroenteritis.
Here are some other nasty things dogs can pick up from consuming stool on a long-term basis!
- Yucky parasites which include Giardia (protozoan), Toxoplasma gondii, Whipworms, Hookworms, and Roundworms
- Canine Parvovirus
- Adenovirus Type-1 aka Canine Hepatitis
How Can I Stop Coprophagia in Dogs?
Perhaps one of the most common old wives tales is that feeding a dog pineapple will stop the poop eating behavior. Why do dogs eat poop is clearly quite a complex problem which has many causes so something as simple as pineapple will not actually cure anything. For pet owners seeking to stop this behavior then the best thing to do is to speak to your veterinarian.
It is recommended that pet owners talk to their veterinarian and discuss any underlying medical cause. Your vet may then choose to perform a few blood tests, physical examination, and fecal analysis.
Dietary and lifestyle changes may also prove to help. Pet owners who own a dog with coprophagia should consider changing their dog’s diet to a more nutrient-dense food.
Some veterinarians may suggest adding more fresh foods to the diet. This can include an array of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as freshly cooked meat. Your vet may also suggest supplementing meals with a dietary plant-based enzyme to aid in the proper breakdown and absorption of food.
Furthermore, your veterinarian will suggest general changes to the household which can include:
- Keep your pooch away from any cat-litter boxes or cat stool
- Cleaning and picking up after your pet’s as often as possible.
- Add vitamin and mineral supplements to their diet. However, often a simple change in diet tends to help coprophagia in dogs pretty quick!
5 Things You Need to Know About Why Do Dogs Eat Poop
- Researchers who conducted web-based surveys found that poop eating behavior was commonly seen in Terrier breed dogs and the Shetland Sheepdog.
- Pet owners often wonder if the commercial “poop deterrent” actually works? Well, many veterinarians and researchers have found that commercial brands like Potty-Mouth and Copraband don’t actually work.
- Dogs can learn which poop has a deterrent. In fact, some dogs may even develop a taste for any deterrent that’s been used on the stool
- Sometimes coprophagia can develop into a compulsive disorder. For example, puppies who watch mother dogs consume stool may often learn the behavior while young. Additionally, improper nutrition such as low protein diet from birth can be considered a risk factor to coprophagia.
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