You’re probably wondering “Why do dogs eat poop?” Yep, dogs can do some really disgusting things. They drink water from the toilet, roll around in mud and even lick their own butts. However, one of the worst things they do is eat poop. This is such a common thing that many pet owners put their dogs up for adoption or choose euthanasia.
It’s Called Coprophagia
The scientific name for this behavior is coprophagia (kop-run-fey-jee-uh). There are both physiological and behavior reasons why poop is attractive to some dogs. If your dog has this disgusting habit, don’t worry. You can try certain things to stop this behavior. Although there aren’t that many studies on it, this is something that happens all of the time. A 2012 study conducted at the University of California at Davis found the following things:
- At least 16 percent of all dogs are deemed serious stool eaters. They’ve been caught doing it at least five times.
- A quarter of these dogs were caught eating poop at least once.
Protection from Parasites
According to the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Benjamin Hart, it is a way to protect a canine’s den from parasites that could infect the area. The study consisted of sending surveys to around 3000 dog owners. Although humans might consider coprophagia to be quite disgusting, this is not the viewpoint of many dogs. Dogs are natural born scavengers. They don’t mind eating out of trash cans. According to Steven R. Lindsay, the author of Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training, coprophagia is a way that dogs protect themselves from starvation. Basically, if your food source is limited, you cannot afford to be picky.
Canines are not the only species that eat dog poop as a way to get necessary nutrients. Rabbits do it also. As a matter of fact, if they don’t, it leads to adverse health problems. On the flip side, dogs don’t have to eat poop to get all of their nutrients. This is just a bad behavior they exhibit. Moms lick their pups to help them poop. This helps to keep them and the area clean. Puppies also eat their own poop. This is called autocoprophagia. When they eat the poop of other animals, it is called allocoprophagia. Although eating their own poop doesn’t cause health problems, this is not the case when it comes to allocoprophagia. It could contain parasites, toxins or viruses. Usually, most puppies stop this behavior by the time they are nine months old.
Things to Know About Dogs Who Eat Feces
When puppies eat poop, it is considered to be a regular part of discovering the world. A majority of them will just smell it, but others will eat it. Compare it to human children who want to explore and put everything in their mouth. The strange thing is that most dogs will not eat soft stools or diarrhea. They only like to eat hard poop. Dogs really like poop that is frozen, which is called poopsicles by many dog owners. Hart also formed other opinions on the subject of coprophagia during his studies:
- This behavior happens more often in homes with more than one dog. It only occurs in 20 percent of homes with just one dog, and it increases to 33 percent in homes with three or more dogs.
- A poop eater is not any harder to train than one who does not eat poop.
- Girl dogs are more likely to eat poop than boy dogs.
- A majority of 92 percent of dogs want poop that is no more than two days old. It must be fresh.
- A majority of 85 percent of dogs will not eat their own poop.
- If your dog likes to steal food off of tables, he is probably a poop eater.
Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?
If your dog likes to eat poop, let a vet diagnose your dog and determine if there are underlying health conditions such as the following:
- A diet lacking in nutrition
- Malabsorption syndromes
- Thyroid disease
- Any other health condition that increases the appetite
- Steroids in the system
Usually, dogs eat poop when there are environmental or behavior problems such as the following:
- Restrictive Confinement: A dog is restricted to a small space for a long time.
- Isolation: When a dog has to spend time alone in spaces such as basements or kennels instead of in close proximity with humans.
- Anxiety: When a dog is abused or harshly punished when house trained. It is believed that a dog poops and then gets rid of the evidence. He is still punished, and the cycle continues.
- The Need to Get Attention: Dogs want to get a reaction from their owners, so they eat their own poop. So, if your dog is doing this, do not overreact.
- Inappropriate association with actual food: When a dog’s eating space is in close proximity to its elimination space, it cannot not tell the difference between food and poop odors.
- The Scent is on Their Mothers: According to Lindsay, some puppies think it is okay because they smell the scent of poop on their mother’s breath. In addition, their mothers might throw up food that has been mixed with puppy poop. This is known as appetitive inoculation. It may lead to a bad habit that many puppies cannot break.
- In Close Proximity to a Sick or Older Dog: The dog eats the poop of a sick or older dog that lives in the same home. This is common when fecal incontinence is prevalent. This may be a dog’s nature of eating poop to protect the pack from predators.
How to Stop This Disgusting Behavior
It is possible to stop the following behavior by doing the following things:
- Taking Vitamins: Some believe that this behavior occurs because of a lack of nutrients such as vitamin B.
- Getting More Enzymes: These days, dogs eat more carbs than meats. This is unlike the diets of their ancestors. Some dog owners give their dogs meat tenderizer, which contains an enzyme called papain.
- Giving Them Taste-Aversion Products: Dogs are disgusted with certain smells and tastes. Spray their foods with products such as pepper plant derivatives, garlic, derivatives, parsley, chamomile and monosodium glutamate. They are taste aversion products.
One of the best ways to stop the problem is to train them and keep their area poop free. Also don’t give your dog access to your cat’s litter box. Train your dog properly and give him a treat whenever he doesn’t run after poop.