No matter how clean your dog’s environment might be, you may still observe your dog occasionally ingesting feces. Moreover, as humans, we find this behavior very disgusting, especially if you are a dog parent who loves doggie kisses. Dog owners often wonder, “Why do dogs eat poop?” Humans often expect their dog to act more human. In this article, let’s shed light on this seemingly weird dog behavior.
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What is coprophagia?
Coprophagia is the scientific term for poop-eating behavior in dogs. Dogs may eat poop due to behavioral and/or psychological reasons. However, copropagia is not identified as a behavioral or psychological disorder in dogs. Moreover, poop-eating behavior in dogs is actually quite common since dogs may also develop a taste for poop. In addition, some dog foods make the smell of dog poop still enticing for dogs. The good news is that the behavior can be discouraged in most dogs. You don’t really want to get kissed or licked by a dog that recently ate poop, right?
Puppies and mother dogs are the most likely to eat poop. In contrary, intact males are less likely to ingest poop which is probably another sign of dominance in dogs. Moreover, in the perspective of dogs, eating poop isn’t really that bad. In fact, even the ancestors of dogs, the wolves sometimes ate poop, too.
There are 2 types for coprophagia in dogs. Autocoprophagia is when a dog or puppy ingests its own poop. On the other hand, allocoprophagia happens when dogs eat another dog’s or another animal’s poop. In addition, dogs are often drawn to the taste of cat, horse and goose manure when they get a chance to smell or eat it.
Why do dogs eat poop?
Dogs eat poop for various reasons. However, the most concerning reasons for poop-eating behavior in dogs are health problems and nutrient deficiency or insufficiency. In this case, you may consult your dog’s veterinarian to address the underlying health issues behind coprophagia in dogs before you discourage the behavior altogether.
Dog eat poop in an attempt to regain lost nutrients. In addition, dogs prefer eating fresh poop which is about 1-2 days old. In another scenario, wolves and modern-day dogs eat poop in an attempt to protect sick or weak members of the pack from potential predators. This instinctive behavior comes from the wolf ancestry of dogs.
Poop eating is normal behavior for some mammals including dogs and wolves. In addition, puppies and mother dogs are more likely to ingest feces. For puppies, they would usually eat poop in an attempt to regain lost nutrients which were excreted in the fecal matter. On the other hand, mother dogs usually eat feces to keep the surroundings of her puppies clean when nursing and caring for her babies. Mother dogs may ingest her puppies’ feces and her feces as well. However, even though mother dogs may ingest her puppies’ poop, she would usually throw up her puppies feces together with undigested food.
What causes coprophagia?
Coprophagia can be discouraged. However, to help prevent your dog from eating poop, you need to identify the causes to address things properly. Some puppies may also poop so much only to eat all of it afterward. Here are some of the most common causes of coprophagia in dogs according to the American Kennel Club:
- Poor diet
- Malabsorption syndrome (inability to extract nutrients from food)
- Cushing’s Disease
- Thyroid problems
- Steroid medications
- Isolation and boredom
- Confusion between feces and real food
- Living with sick or weak dogs
- Attention-seeking behavior
How to prevent your dog from eating poop?
There are different causes of coprophagia. However, health issues must be addressed to successfully eliminate the behavior. Identifying and addressing the root cause of coprophagia may help prevent it in the future. If you want to successfully prevent your dog from eating poop, these are some solutions that you might want to try.
Vitamins and minerals supplementation
Vitamin and mineral supplementation may reduce your dog’s craving for poop by providing alternative sources for the nutrients that they need, so they may not need to recycle nutrients from poop. Not all nutrients can be obtained from commercial dog food. In addition, your dog might need breed-specific dog food to provide the right nutrients for your dog. Deficiency or insufficiency in B vitamins often causes dogs to eat their own poop. It is important to provide nutritional supplements for dogs to avoid coprophagia due to poor diet.
Some commercial diets are high in carbohydrates, but low on meat protein and fats that dogs need. Digestive enzymes of dogs are composed of protease, lipase and amylase which allow dogs to digest protein, fats and carbohydrates, respectively. However, lack of digestive enzymes may cause dogs to crave for poop in an attempt to replenish it. There are dietary supplements for dogs which may help compensate for this lack of digestive enzymes. Moreover, you may change your dog’s diet altogether to prevent this problem or add some variety to your dog’s diet.
Taste and smell aversion
Dogs are enticed by both smell and taste when it comes to food. However, as a dog owner you don’t want your dog getting drawn to the taste or smell of its own poop. Luckily, there are products to prevent your dog from eating poop. Moreover, you may also make taste and smell aversion product at home. Dogs dislike the smell and taste of some plant extracts such as chamomile, pepper-plant derivatives, yucca, garlic, and parsley so if you spray any of these extracts on your dog’s poop, they may eventually avoid eating their poop with proper training and negative taste and smell association with poop.
Why do dogs eat poop? There are various reasons why your dog might enjoy eating poop and it might even be due to some primal instincts. However, it is a behavior which is may signify health problems or unhealthy diet. If your dog is in good health but still enjoys eating poop, then you may address the behavior with proper training and nutrient or enzyme supplementation.