Eating poop is the worst of all the repulsive habits our dogs might have – rolling in swamp muck, licking their butts-. The reason why they do it is of course not to gross us humans out, but it most certainly does.This is such a big problem for many dog owners that eating poop is a common reason why people try to rehome a dog or even opt for euthanasia.
Coprophagia (kop-ruh-fey-jee-uh) is the scientific name for this behaviour and there are also both psychologic and behavorial reasons why some dogs consider dung to be delicious.
If your dog is eating poop, then read on and keep hope, there are ways to stop this behaviour.
A few scientific studies has been conducted on why dogs eat poop and one study conducted in 2012 came to the conclusion that one dog out of six has a serious problem with this and one out of four has been caught eating feces at least once.
This behavior is of course very repulsive to us humans but from a dog’s point of view it is not all that bad. In the beginning, dogs evolved as scavengers and ate almost anything they could find. This behavior might have been one of many which allowed dogs to survive during periods when “proper food” was scarce. In other words, when you are starving you can’t afford to be picky.
Natural Behavior for mothers and pups
For some animals for example rabbits, eating poop is a natural way for them obtain certain important nutrients. If you would prevent a rabbit from doing this, it will develop health problems.
Dogs, on the other hand does not need to get nutrients this way..
However at some stages of a dogs life, this is a completely natural behavior. Mother dogs will lick their puppies in order to make theim eliminate and the mother clean the pups feces during the first three weeks of the pups life. Puppies will also eat their own droppings as well as those of other dogs and other animals such as cats and horses.
It is harmless for a puppy to eat their own poop but eating poop from other animals can cause health problems if the stool is contaminated with parasites, toxins or viruses. Ususally this behavior will stop when the pup is around nine months old.
Some Facts about dogs who eat poop
Generally speaking when puppies do this then it is a way for them to explore the world, just like human babies tend to put everything in to their mouths. When coprohagia occurs in adults some observations has been done.
- Poopeating is more common in multi-dog households., in homes with only one dog around 20 percent of dogs have this habit, while in homes with three or more dogs around 33 percent eat poop..
- Females usually eat poop more often than males.
- Most poop eaters want fresh stuff, which is one or two days old.
- Most (85%) of poop eaters does not eat their own feces, only that of other dogs.
- Dogs who are greedy and steal food are also likely to eat poop.
What are the reasons why dogs eat poop?
If you have an adult dog and suddenly starts eating poop then you should consult your veterinarian to rule out health problems such as
- A diet which is not satisfactory in nutrients and/ calorie content
- malabsorption syndromes
- diabetes, , thyroid disease, and other deseases that might cause an appetite increase
- certain drugs, such as steroids
- Isolation: poop eating is more common in dogs who live in a kennel than those who are close to their family.
- Confinement in a restricted space: Spending a lot time confined in a cage or other restricted area can cause the problem.
- Attention-seeking: Sometiems dogs eat thier own poop to get attention from their owners. It is important not to overreact if your dog do this.
- Associating poop with real food : Dogs should not be fed close to their feces as they might make a connection between the two and be unable to tell the difference.
- Healthy dog in company with sick or older dog: In some cases a healthy dog will eat stoos from a weaker canine member of the household. Scientist believe that this might have been a way of protecting the pack from other predators.
How to Stop My Dog From Eating Poop
Here are a handful of tips which has proved to be effective in stopping a dog from eating poop:
- Vitamin supplementation: There is a theory that dogs eat feces because there is something missing in their diets. Particularly a lack of vitamin C. A supplement of vitamine C might cure this.
- Enzyme supplementation: The diet of domstic dogs today is higher in Carbohydrates and lower in protein from meat than the ancestrial canine diet. Some dog owners report success giving their dogs a meat tenderizer called papain which is an enzyme.
- Taste-aversion products: Certain tastes and smells are as disgusting to dogs as stool eating is to humans and therefore spraying certain substances on poop will make it far less appealing to dogs. Chamomille, garlic, parsley, pepper-plant deratives are a few examples of this.
Perhaps training and taking care of the dog’s environment is the best way to stop a dog from eating poop.
- Living area should be kept clean. Make sure the yard is clean to so that there are no poops for her to pick up
- If you own a cat, make sure the cat’s litter box is out of reach for the dog..
- Keep your eyes on your dog when walking and clean up after her immediately after eliminating.
- Training. Important to establish yourself as the “Packleader” and train the commands “Come” and “leave it”.
Watch the video below for more advice on how to deal with this problem.