It’s a beautiful day and you’re walking your dog in your yard to poop, then suddenly he eats it, which is a shocking behavior to most pet owners and makes them wonder, “Why does my dog eat poop and how to stop it?
Pet parents usually take care of dogs because they have charming and adorable behaviors. But, also be prepared to see repulsive habits that may churn a weak stomach, such as licking their butts, drinking from the toilet bowl, playing on a muddy puddle, and one of the nastiest, eating their stool.
Keep in mind that this habit is not unusual among dogs, and experts have a term for this, coprophagia. Coprophagia is the medical term used by veterinarians for animals that exhibit poop-eating behavior, such as rabbits, horses, rodents, and fish.
Pet parents need to know why dogs might eat poop and not immediately conclude that this is a repulsive behavior. Learning about the reasons can give you an insight into your dog’s health condition and prevent potential disorders from progressing through your veterinarian’s help.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about why they eat poop and how to stop dogs from eating stool.
10 Reasons Why Dogs Eat Their Stool
Contrary to the common belief that dogs eat their poop because of nutritional deficiency, many theories still exist as to why dogs consume their feces and consider several factors. Here are ten possible reasons why your furbaby consumes his poop.
Like all mothers, a female dog wants all the best for her puppies, including a clean place to live in. Mother dogs would often lick their pups clean, which includes consuming her litter’s feces. This maternal behavior of keeping the puppies and their environment clean usually continues until the first three weeks of lactation.
Like human babies, puppies are always curious about their surroundings and will mostly explore the environment through their mouth, such as biting, chewing, licking, and ingesting anything they find enticing.
Puppies do this behavior as a way for them to learn more about their world. However, if your furbaby continues this behavior until adulthood, they may be suffering a medical or behavioral condition that needs veterinary attention.
Dogs are natural scavengers and would eat anything that smells enticing, and surprisingly, dogs like the smell of poop.
Most dogs get bored from being just at home, with little to no human contact and nothing much to do. Eventually, they would find a way to make their day a bit interesting, and if there happens to be a poop within their reach, they may just find a new way to entertain themselves.
5. Seeking for Attention
Dogs eat their stool to get a reaction from their pet parents, and admit it; they usually succeed. It might seem weird, but getting in trouble is a great way to get human interaction for most dogs.
Dogs may result in eating their poop in response to being in stressful conditions such as having separation anxiety, being confined in tight cages, or an encounter with another animal on a walk. Pet owners who use negative reinforcements while training their dogs may also be the reason for a start in coprophagia behavior
Just like when humans turn to unusual behaviors when stressed (such as nail-biting), dogs also seek an outlet for unpleasant, fearful feelings.
7. History of Being In A Puppy Mill
A puppy mill is a cruel and sadistic dog-breeding facility that breeds puppies for profit. Often, dogs in puppy mills are not treated well and cannot get their essentials, such as food, clean water, and exercise.
Due to this terrible living condition, most puppies from puppy mills are often sickly and are always afraid when meeting people, resulting in terrible anxiety.
If you want to have a new puppy, we recommend getting a rescued puppy instead of buying from a pet store as most puppies came from a puppy mill. Here’s our previous article that will tackle why you should adopt a puppy.
Most people argue that dogs cannot comprehend or express human emotions; however, some scenarios can prove otherwise.
Your dog might see you get an angry reaction when they just poop anywhere in your house, so they might feel ashamed when they do this behavior again and this creates the behavior of eating poop. Think of it as their way of hiding the evidence.
9. Enzyme Deficiency
Dogs in the wild have a diet that is entirely dependent on whole prey and local vegetation. Eating an entire animal means eating the digestive tract as well, which naturally provides a suitable amount of digestive enzymes needed to metabolize.
Digestive enzymes break down food so that the body can absorb food nutrients. Although dogs produce enzymes naturally, they are not producing enough to support digestion fully. As a result, they need to get extra enzymes from their food, including their stool.
On the other hand, modern domesticated dogs do not need to hunt for prey as they are being fed on highly processed diets, which usually lacks enough digestive enzymes. If he doesn’t have the necessary enzymes, food will not be adequately digested.
10. Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency or EPI, also known as pancreatic insufficiency, is a genetic condition that some puppies struggle with. Although certain breeds are more prone to EPI, such as the collies and German Shepherds, all dogs can still be diagnosed with this disease.
When a dog’s pancreas does not manufacture a suitable number of digestive enzymes to break down nutrients, fats, and starches properly, dogs may develop EPI and begin to ingest their poop to get the nutrients they need.
Symptoms of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency include:
- Weight loss without a difference in their appetite
- Chronic diarrhea and loose stools
- Larger than average stool size
- Excessive farting
- Frequent gurgling noises in the stomach
- Loss of muscle mass
- Poor quality skin and coat
Risks of Frequent Coprophagia
Generally, there is a low danger for a dog’s health to eat his stool occasionally. However, bacteria and parasites from their poop can be transmitted to humans and other pets by contacting the dog’s mouth and saliva. If you cannot keep your dog from eating stool, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands if you touch your dog’s mouth.
It is essential to keep in mind that dog feces still have digestive parasites that can harm them when ingested abundantly. These are the following parasitic worms and health risks that a dog can experience through frequent feces ingestion.
Hookworms are parasitic worms that infect the host’s small intestine, affecting dogs and people. Hookworms are microscopic and extremely difficult to exterminate once they have infected a host animal.
Hookworms can cause complications for the infected animal, including anemia because these worms feed off the infected animal’s blood by clinging on the intestinal linings.
While hookworms in dogs rarely cause illness in humans, there is still a small chance to infect us, so it is essential to treat a dog with hookworms quickly with a dewormer administered by their veterinarian.
Tapeworms are found in several animals and can grow to extreme sizes, from 10 to 70 cm. They use their mouth to attach to the wall of the small intestine, where they absorb nutrients from the dog, resulting in malnutrition. There are more than a thousand species of tapeworms that lay eggs that can be found in the feces.
When a dog consumes an infected dog’s feces, it will begin to show symptoms once the tapeworm establishes itself in the intestines of the newly infected dog.
Roundworms are tricky parasites to eliminate because they lay vast amounts of eggs that can survive outside a host’s body for as long as ten years. This means that a dog can be infected by roundworms from consuming infected feces as well as from a soil that has been contaminated by those feces.
Heartworms infect the heart of the affected animal and damage the heart tissue that can be fatal. Heartworms are prominent in dogs and are extremely difficult to get rid of once they have infected the heart tissue.
Once heartworms start infecting a dog, treatment is centered on poisoning the existing worms by administering arsenic-based compounds. Fortunately, heartworms are easily prevented through regular vet checkups.
Puppies are most commonly affected by campylobacteriosis, and they often show symptoms of severe diarrhea and dehydration, which can be fatal if left untreated.
Any puppy suspected of having campylobacteriosis or showing severe diarrhea should be treated immediately by a veterinarian to prevent further dehydration and an imbalance of electrolytes. Treatment for campylobacteriosis includes the administration of antibiotics and fluids.
How To Stop Dogs from Eating Poop?
Prevention is better than cure. The simplest way to stop this behavior is to eliminate the poop immediately after your dog’s business. However, there are still a lot of techniques you can do to prevent this gross habit.
1. Get Rid of the Poop
Whatever the reason why your furbaby eats his poop, the most effective way of stopping this is to prevent him from eating it physically.
Each time your furbaby defecates, you need to immediately pick it up before they get a chance to eat it. Make sure to properly dispose of the waste in a garbage can with a tight lid after you pick it up to prevent him from smelling and scavenging it.
2. Take Your Dog To the Vet
Generally speaking, stool-eating behavior is a behavioral issue and not a medical issue. However, there may be dogs that are malnourished due to poor diet or digestive parasite infection.
A check-up administered by your veterinarian will be the only way to find out if there are any underlying medical conditions to be addressed. If no medical reasons are found, then it is most likely due to behavioral issues that you can handle yourself.
3. Change the Feeding Routine
Consider feeding your dog 2 to 3 small, well-balanced meals daily. Providing your furbaby with this routine, instead of once a day, can keep them satisfied and deter them from seeking out feces to eat.
Check your dog’s food label and make sure meat (not meat by-products) is the top one or two ingredients. If the dog food has many grain products listed, consider getting food made with more meat.
4. Entertain Them
Giving your dog lots of physical and mental stimulation will prevent any boredom that may result from eating his poop.
If you have time in your hand, walk your furbaby twice daily for at least 20 minutes each. Playing games, such as fetch and tag, for at least 15 minutes a day, will give your dog entertainment and physical and mental stimulation as well.
If you’re a busy pet parent, consider getting a professional pet sitter or a dog walker that will take care of your dog’s daily needs, including playing and exercising through walking.
With FursnPaws, you don’t have to worry about the attention and care, as I will make sure to give my undivided attention to your pet the whole time, depending on the personality; of course, some pets are more independent and want their own space, so we don’t want to bother them or make them feel uncomfortable!
I will also contact you immediately whenever I arrive at your home and start the visit. I will stay online, sending you videos and photos for updates, and I will inform you about any behavioral change or health issue, if any.
So if you are looking for a pet sitter or dog walker in Dubai, You can check FursnPaws testimonials on my Facebook page, website, or Instagram stories. Also, our first meet up plays a significant role, as this is where you will get to know me better, to see me with your pet for the first time, and to decide if you would like to proceed or not. Besides, you can always keep an eye on your pets and your pet sitter by having cameras at your home.
5. Deter Your Dog From Eating Stool
Since dogs find the taste of poop enticing, you may try to make it unpleasant for them. One way to do this is by liberally applying their poop on the ground with household items they find repulsive, such as lemon juice, red pepper flakes, or hot sauce.
These household items need to be applied to the poop daily for the dog to associate that eating poop can be a bad experience for them.
There are also available products in pet stores that are made specifically to make your dog’s stool taste unpleasant to them. Ask your veterinarian about the safest and most effective product before purchasing.
For our pet parents on the go, here’s a quick and informative video you can watch that summarizes what we have discussed so far why dogs eat their poop and how to stop it:
If you have tried our tips and can’t stop your dog from eating poop, talk to your vet, or seek help from a professional dog trainer.
Now that you know the possible reasons for your question “Why does my dog eat poop?” and gave you tips on how to stop it, we hope that we have helped you with your dog’s nasty habit. Do you have any other tips for stopping dogs from eating poop? Comment down below, and maybe we could add it to our list!