Dogs are sweet, loving, loyal and adorable pets, but sometimes they eat poop and we don’t want their panting hot breath within 10 feet of us.
While not necessarily an immediately unhealthy habit, it is considered all the same to be a fairly disgusting one as far as dog owners are concerned. So why do some dogs indulge in coprophagia, what does this mean for their health and how can we dissuade them from continuing?
Why They Eat It
There are plenty of reasons why some dogs indulge in this habit, all of which can be looked at as natural responses so try not to get too cross!
Just As Good The Second Time
We may recoil at the thought but sometimes they just really like the taste. There can often be a lot of undigested nutrients in dog fæces that get voided with the waste, so to them it still tastes pretty darned appealing. This also leads us to the second reason...
Diet Is Lacking
Dogs that aren’t getting the nutrition that they need from their food will sometimes turn to coprophagia in an effort to get more of those nutrients that were left behind. This is an example of why it is wise to take a poop-eating dog to the veterinarian when you see the habit is continuing, as your dog may well need a new diet to be at optimal health.
Rex Did It First
In homes with more than one dog, if one of them begins the habit, particularly the eldest, there is a good chance that the youngest might try it themselves. Dogs, and especially puppies, look to their pack superiors for guidance and will from time to time mirror behaviour.
Dogs can eat their poop simply because they want to keep their territory clean. This may be because they’ve been chastised for defecating in a particular location and don’t want their owners to find out, but it is also theorised that it could stem from a survival instinct as a method of not drawing predators towards the pack.
Cry For Attention
Dogs will do just about anything to get the attention of their owners, and unfortunately sometimes they have to resort to bad behaviour to get it. Even an angry owner is still paying attention to them, but what they really should have is love, interaction and play. A bored pet is more likely to act out.
Fortunately, on its own, the act of eating of fæces does not pose a serious health risk. The risks to health come from what can sometimes (and statistically fairly seldom) be found inside of the fæces. Parasites are often spread through contact with poop, as do many viruses such as Parvovirus. It is important not to let your dog eat the fæces of other dogs for this reason.
Additionally, as mentioned earlier, coprophagia can be a sign that a dog is not getting the nutrition that it needs from its diet. This can pose health risk to your pet over time so it is important to check with a veterinarian when the habit is forming.
Putting an End To It
There are a few products on the market to help stop your pet from eating their waste, many of which are food additives such as “FOR-BID”, which make the stool taste undesirable, and some natural methods you can employ after the void is passed such as habanero sauce. It may take a few attempts to find the product or method that works best for your particular pet, and breaking a habit can take time.
Consult your veterinarian today if your dog eats their own fæces to check on their health, and review the many natural and product-based solutions available to help you stop the behaviour.