As much as we love our pets, we don’t always understand the things they do. Topping the list of “Why does he do that?” questions is this one: WHY does my dog eat poop? The scientific term for this strange phenomenon is Coprophagia – the consumption of one’s own feces. While it seems to be largely behavioral, there may be an underlying medical issue at the root of Coprophagia as well. That’s why it’s important that pet parents address this issue with their vet.
As gross as the practice is, there are a variety of reasons that may explain why you see your dog eat poop.
- One possible reason is an enzyme deficiency. Without the right balance of digestive enzymes, dogs can struggle to properly absorb the foods they consume. The enzymes dogs naturally create aren’t always sufficient enough to let them digest food effectively. When that happens, your dog might eat his poop because he craves the nutrients its full of.
- You might also see your dog eat poop if she’s cleaning up after her puppies, or if they’re bored or stressed. Very young puppies will sometimes eat feces out of simple curiosity.
- Older dogs might do so from boredom, to cope with stress, or to get your attention. Instinct might even be the culprit behind eating poop. You see, before we domesticated dogs as pets, they lived in the wild and scavenged for whatever foods they could find – poop included.
Dogs are smart creatures. If they’ve been reprimanded or punished for pooping in certain areas, they may eat their poop to get rid of the proof of their misdeed. Of course, they might also do so simply to mimic other dogs they’ve seen eating poop. If you’re a two-pet, cat and dog family, be extra vigilant. Your dog might actually eat the cat’s poop. Some dogs only eat their own poop while others will actually search for poop from other dogs or try to eat the poop from their dog siblings.
Sigh. Now that you know some of the reasons behind why you see your dog eat poop, let’s examine a few of the ways to avoid or combat this yucky habit.
- Keep temptation at bay by putting your pooper scooper to work and cleaning up as quickly as possible after your dog relieves himself.
- Keep boredom at bay by keeping your dog engaged in fun, interactive activities. Make sure he has plenty of opportunities to run, play, and have fun. If you leave your dog home alone for extended hours, have you considered hiring a professional dog walker? Not only would this provide mental and physical stimulation for your dog, you can schedule your dog walker to come over at time of day when your dog needs to poop.
- Ensure your pet gets a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet that includes raw foods. Raw food has important digestive enzymes your pet needs and craves.
Make it a practice to tell your vet about this or any other behavior you consider highly unusual or abnormal. It’s the best way to make sure there isn’t an underlying medical condition that needs to be treated. If your vet finds it necessary, he or she will prescribe pills that cause feces to taste bitter and unappealing. The pills are safe, effective and usually contain all-natural ingredients. Another remedy is sprinkling freeze-dried enzymes – available at most vet offices – on your dog’s food.
As gross as it sounds, it is fairly common for dogs to eat poop. Many times, they simply aren’t as grossed out by it as we are. Be sure to discourage this practice and to have your pet checked out by a vet as soon as possible.
If your dog eats dog poop, what do you to discourage this behavior?