Why do dogs eat poop?

Why do dogs eat poop?Whilst the idea of eating poop makes us humans feel totally disgusted, it can be a favourite and fairly common activity amongst our canine friends. They aren’t very picky either, they will happily wolf down horse manure, fox poop, cat poo, cow pats or simply other dogs’ faeces. WHY? The reasons can be as varied as a colour palette but they can be grouped into 2 main categories:

  1. Behavioural

    Puppy phase

    Being curious is part of being a puppy and your dog might just eat poop to satisfy its curiosity. The good news is that they just grow out of this.

    Attention seeking

    Like kids, dogs can turn to naughty things just to get your attention. And of course, there is fun in poop hunting!

    Scavangers

    Dogs are natural scavengers and to them stool smells amazing. If something smells amazing, well it must taste amazing too!

    Boredom

    if your dog is at home all day alone with access to the garden, he might just eat poop out of boredom.

    Stress & Puppy farms

    Eating stool can be a way of dealing with stress. It was also observed that dogs who came from puppy farms, and therefore were open to more stress, are more likely to get into the habit of eating stool.

    Punishment

    Punishment for accidents in the house might make your dog think that poop is a bad thing and therefore any evidence should be destroyed.

  2. Medical/Nutrition

    Deficiency

    Before domestication, wild dogs would have eaten whole prey including the digestive tract … which naturally provides the appropriate amount of digestive enzymes needed.

    Unfortunately many dogs today are fed highly processed diets.

    Digestive enzymes help ensure your dog is able to properly absorb his nutrition. If he doesn’t have the enzymes needed … food will pass through undigested leaving your dog deficient in certain vitamins and minerals.

    Certain diseases

    Illnesses such as diabetes or thyroid issues can increase your dog’s appetite and so can steroids and if they don’t find anything else, well poop will do!

    Parasites

    If your dog is infested with parasites, then he will have to compete for nutrition with them. The longer the parasites are allowed to thrive, the worse your dog’s health will get.

    Malabsorption

    The old saying ‘You are what you eat’ is not strictly true. It’s more ‘You are what you eat and what you absorb’. You might feed your pooch the best diet but if he has any underlying illnesses causing malabsorption then his body will be lacking in certain nutrients.

    Underfeeding

    Stool can look very appetising to a hungry dog so make sure you provide enough food to your dog!

Whilst there can be many reasons, nutrition is most likely the reason your dog is eating their poop, specifically inadequate nutrition or nutrient absorption. If your dog is seeking out alternate sources of nutrition, there might be some nutrient missing from their diet. Take a look at your dog’s food: is it full of fillers and grains? Sometimes switching to a healthier dog food diet is the best way to fix a stool eating problem.

If your dog is eating nutritious food, they may not be absorbing all of the nutrients properly. In this case, you might want to speak to your vet and request a stool test for possible parasites.

How do we stop K9s eating poop?

Positive re-enforcement

Since behaviour can be such a strong component of coprophagia (the official name for eating poop), changing that behaviour can take a long time to break this bad habit. If you notice your dog eating stool outside, take them out on a lead. This will allow you more control over where your dog goes so you can steer around existing stool and help navigate away from new stool.

Positive reinforcement and natural dog treats are helpful for distracting your dog and will prove to be more enticing than poop. Once your dog shows interest in stool, quickly offer a treat to pull their attention away and then speak encouragingly while giving them the treat. Just make sure you use healthy, natural dog treats, since diet is also a component of stool eating.

Feed a natural, healthy diet

Feeding a natural diet will help with better digestion and assimilation. As with most specific health conditions in your pet, this can do wonders. Transition your dog according to the instructions and consider rotating proteins to prevent allergies.

Adding a natural probiotics, such as kefir or plain yoghurt will support proper nutrition absorption and assimilation. You could simply add some natural yoghurt, greek yoghurt or kefir on top of their kibbles or mix it with some chopped boiled carrots and peas, spread it on a lickpad and serve it to your dog. If you want to make it longer lasting, you could stick it in the freezer for an hour or so before letting your dog enjoy it.

Always clean up

Finally, proper clean-up can be essential to curb your dog’s stool eating habit, especially in the winter time. Always make sure you carry dog waste bags with you and clean up after your dog before they have the opportunity to examine it. If there’s nothing to eat, they can’t eat it.

No punishment

Don’t make a big deal of any accidents in the house whilst training your pup. Even if your puppy starts eating others’ poops, try not to make too much fuss about it. It’s better to distract them and be one step ahead of them. If your dog is off the lead, closely watch his body language and try to spot poops before he does and immediately call your dog and offer a treat. Distract, distract! You might of course want to keep your dog on the lead initially so that he has no chance to eat poop!

Get in touch if you’d like to know more.

Bernadett

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