Although dogs are undeniably lovable, adorable, and trustworthy, they sometimes show odd and even repulsive behaviours that raise our eyebrows. Why do dogs eat their own poop? Have you ever discovered your dog in the backyard chowing down on something strange? If you look closely, you will see that your dog or puppy is eating his own poop.
As people, the prospect of swallowing faeces makes our stomachs turn. However, dog owners sometimes complain about their dogs consuming their own faeces as well as the faeces of other species. Read more on why dogs eat their own poop and what you should do about it.
Coprophagia – What Is It?
Dogs are perhaps the most curious animals. Some are picky, while others will chew on anything and everything.
When it comes to swallowing feces, veterinarians refer to the practise as coprophagia. Coprophagia, which is often seen in dogs, tends to be behavioural but may occasionally be affected by various medical conditions. To determine whether a dog has acquired coprophagia, it is necessary to rule out medical issues before making a diagnosis.
By excluding any medical conditions, the veterinarian will develop an appropriate treatment approach for coprophagia.
Common Reasons Why Do Dogs Eat Their Own Poop
This behavior may be triggered by several factors. From medical issues to behavioral issues, dogs can begin eating their own feces or feces from other animals. Before treating your dog for swallowing feces, consult your veterinarian to ascertain the most probable trigger.
Medical conditions that impair food absorption, induce GI problems, or improve the attractiveness of a dog’s poop may also contribute to the development of coprophagia. Several potential medical causes include the following:
- Underfeeding or consuming a meal that is difficult to absorb
- Deficiencies in digestive enzymes
- Vitamins Deficiency
- Mineral Deficiency
- Cushing’s syndrome
- Side effects from steroid medications
To rule out any pathological reasons for coprophagia, it’s important to conduct a physical examination, a diet inspection, and a stool or blood test for parasites.
Coprophagia is a typical puppy behaviour issue that normally resolves by adulthood. Though dogs of all ages can exhibit coprophagia, the following are some of the more popular causes:
Curiosity and playfulness: initial poop-eating behavior can draw owners’ attention, culminating in dogs or puppies exhibiting the behavior indefinitely.
Puppies may imitate their mother or other dogs who clean and eat puppy feces when caring for their young.
Inappropriate conditioning techniques: certain people try to potty train their pets by inserting a dog’s nose onto their poop once they have soiled themselves inside the house, which may also encourage coprophagia.
Adult dogs can groom and clean newborn puppies, as well as consume their feces.
Owners and veterinarians may also minimize the risk of the behavior becoming a long-term pattern by addressing the problems in coprophagia through early detection and regular care.
Health Risks Associated with Dogs Eating Poop
While the habit of dogs eating their own poop may seem merely disgusting and distasteful to us, it’s important to understand that it may also pose significant health risks to our furry friends.
Parasitic Infections: The primary risk of coprophagia is the potential for parasitic infections. Feces can carry parasites like whipworms, hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms, which can infest your dog’s intestines, leading to various health issues.
Disease Transmission: Besides parasites, feces can be a vehicle for disease transmission. Diseases such as parvovirus, distemper, and coronavirus, among others, can be passed through feces.
Ingestion of Harmful Substances: If the feces contain any toxic substances—perhaps the dog or other animal whose feces your dog is eating has ingested something harmful—these toxins can be passed on to your dog. This is particularly risky if your dog consumes feces from other animals or environments where hazardous chemicals or substances might be present.
Digestive Issues: Consuming feces can lead to digestive problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal upset. This is especially likely if the feces are from another species or if they have been left out for some time and have started to decompose.
Overall, while the act of eating poop may not immediately harm your dog, there is a variety of possible health issues that could arise. It’s best to discourage this behavior and seek advice from a vet if it persists.
Why Is My Dog Consuming Cat Poo?
Have you ever found that your dog consumes cat feces? As a form of scavenging, dogs can consume the faeces of other animals. It is not unusual for dogs to take food from humans, consume trash, or consume things other than food that we deem weird and unsanitary.
Frequently, dogs are drawn to the scent, feel, and taste of foods, regardless of whether we believe they are suitable or not.
Cat faeces and those of other species may sometimes be attractive to dogs. Because dogs perceive smells differently than people do, it’s important to note that poop does not often smell bad to a dog.
As dogs test their world, they are consistently drawn to the odour of poop. Take note that if your dog finds poop appealing, he or she will consume it.
How Can I Prevent My Dog from Consuming Poop?
Coprophagia caused by behaviour may be reversed by applying a variety of procedures, including the following:
- Limiting and avoiding access to feces to the greatest extent.
- Rigorously washing, constant monitoring of your dog while he is outside, and holding cat litter out of reach.
- Interrupting or yanking on the dog’s collar as they are out for a stroll to sniff a poop.
- Distract and discourage the dog by training him to come to you for a reward after elimination.
- Collaborate with the veterinarian to determine and fix the root cause of coprophagia exacerbated by medical complications. Several possible options include the following:
1) Changing their food to something more digestible.
2) Making the switch to a high-bulk or high-fiber formula for your dog.
3) Supplementing of enzymes that aid in digestion and absorption.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a dog eating poop a sign of stress or anxiety?
Yes, in some cases, dogs may eat poop due to stress, anxiety, or behavioral issues. If your dog suddenly starts this behavior, it might be worth consulting with a vet or a canine behaviorist.
Can I use deterrents to stop my dog from eating poop?
Yes, there are commercial deterrents available that make the poop taste bad to dogs, discouraging them from eating it. Always consult your vet before using these products.
Will my dog outgrow the habit of eating poop?
Many puppies that eat poop will outgrow the habit as they mature and receive appropriate training. However, some adult dogs may continue the behavior.
Are certain dog breeds more likely to eat poop?
Poop eating can be seen in any breed of dog. It’s more about individual behavior than breed-specific traits.
Can a change in environment or routine trigger poop eating?
Yes, changes in environment or routine can be stressful for a dog, which could potentially trigger this behavior.
Is it true that mother dogs eat the poop of their puppies?
Yes, mother dogs will often eat the poop of their puppies to keep the den clean. This is normal behavior.
Is poop eating more common in multi-dog households?
Yes, poop eating can be more common in multi-dog households, often due to dominance or competition behaviors.
How quickly should I clean up after my dog to prevent poop eating?
To prevent poop eating, it’s best to clean up immediately after your dog defecates. This removes the temptation before they have a chance to indulge.
Can poop eating cause weight loss in dogs?
While poop eating itself may not cause weight loss, if it’s a symptom of an underlying health condition, weight loss could occur. If you notice unexplained weight changes in your dog, consult a vet.
Are there natural remedies to discourage my dog from eating poop?
Some dog owners find that adding certain foods to their dog’s diet, like pumpkin or pineapple, can discourage poop eating due to altering the taste of the feces. However, effectiveness varies and you should consult a vet before trying this.
If you’re concerned about your dog’s coprophagia, speak with the veterinarians for professional guidance and encouragement.
Your vet can diagnose behavioural disorders and medical issues, and assist you with identifying and treating the underlying cause of the behaviour to achieve long-term results.