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.
Why do dogs eat poop?
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. Plus, learn how to stop your dog from eating poop in each scenario.
A Lacking Diet
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 dogs 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.
Another benefit of raw dog food is that your pup will have smaller, firmer stools; since more of the nutrition is absorbed and used by your dog, less will need to be passed as waste. Compared to raw dog food, kibble is likely to make your dog poop more.
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 come 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!
Behavior: Did you know a mother will eat her puppies’ poop?
Unfortunately, coprophagia can be taught by other dogs. As puppies, their mother will eat their stool. This is to both keep their area (den) clean, and is a natural instinct to protect predators that might be drawn in by their scent. 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.
Is it safe for dogs to eat poop?
We mentioned earlier that dog poop can have some useful bacteria in it – however that doesn’t mean it’s entirely safe. In most cases it’s okay for your dog to eat small amounts of their own poop. However, if your dog eats the feces of another species, it runs the risk of contracting parasites or other diseases.
Watch our video with Dr. Patton, Animal Nutritionist, to get even more “scoop” on why your dog is eating poo:
Read more strange behaviors and what they mean about your pet dog.