Let’s face it. . . while we love them endlessly, sometimes our dogs do things we’re not exactly proud of. And when it comes to these strange habits, dogs eating “poo” just might take the cake.
There are a variety of factors that could be playing into this odd habit of “Coprophagia” (the act of eating feces). While it’s a common behavior for many animals, particularly dogs, here are a few common reasons for the behavior, and how to address it.
Often, a dog craving and eating poop comes from a lack of nutrients. Dogs are smart; they know that feces are composed of useful bacteria that they need. If they’re lacking, consuming feces is an attempt to gain back the nutrients that they’re missing.
Solution: Switch up their diet. Kibble-heavy, highly processed foods don’t contain the appropriate amount of digestive enzymes that they need; without them, they cannot properly absorb their food. This leads to dogs releasing important nutrients undigested, which then leads to them consuming the feces in an attempt to recoup those nutrients.
Does your dog spend a lot of time alone? Dogs who spend more time in isolated areas, or with not much to do, are more likely to eat poop than those who interact frequently with others. They may also be seeking attention by doing so; if they’re feeling a little lonely, they know you’ll coming running and give them your time (even if it’s you scolding them) when they indulge in this bad habit.
Solution: Make sure your dog is entertained when you have to leave them alone. Check out our post about technology and treats for some great ways to keep your dog occupied and mentally stimulated while you’re out of the house. And when you do get home, make sure you spend time giving them the love they deserve!
Unfortunately, coprophagia can be taught by other dogs. As puppies, their mother will eat their stool. This is two both keep their area (den) clean, and is a natural instinct to protect predators that might be drawn in by their sent. The mother does this from the time the puppies are born until they are weaned, and since puppies are impressionable, they may naturally follow her lead and do what she does.
Solution: Ensure that you keep a close eye on your dog while interacting with all other dogs, and quickly clean up after them so they do not have a chance to inspect the feces. Remove the dog from the area by calling for them, and reward them with a treat and verbal encouragement for their good behavior.
Watch our video with Dr. Patton, Animal Nutritionist, to get even more “scoop” on why your dog is eating poo.