Why does my dog eat poop? This is a common question that dog pet parents tend to ask themselves as they find that their furry friends are engaging in this unsightly but normal behavior. You may find this behavior quite disturbing; however, it is very common among dogs. Below we will discuss a variety of reasons why your dog may be eating poop, if there is anything that you should do about it, and when you should make a phone call to the vet.
What Is Coprophagia?
Coprophagia is the technical term used to refer to poop eating in dogs. There are several reasons why your dog may be eating poop. Some of the reasons are somewhat difficult to identify. However, most of the reasons can be narrowed down quite quickly into two separate categories: behavioral issues and nutrition. The first category includes things like boredom or stress. These types of behaviors usually occur when a dog has no other outlet for his energy. He will eat anything he comes across that looks appetizing. This could include food left out on the floor, toys, bedding, etc.
Reasons Why Your Dog Is Eating Poop
If your dog just recently picked up the unsightly but natural behavior, you should consult with your vet to rule out any underlying health conditions that require treatment and medical intervention, including:
- Nutrient deficiencies and lack of food
- Malabsorption syndrome
- Medications and steroids
If this behavior is a new habit that your dog has picked up, there may be a different cause for the issue, so it is important that you consult with your vet as soon as possible. However, you should have peace of mind knowing that your dog is not the only one who engages in this behavior. Researchers who studied this topic determined that one in six dogs engage in regular poop eating!
Mother Dogs And Nursing Dogs
A female dog that has just given birth wants to keep its environment as clean as possible. This includes licking her new puppies clean and providing them with a clean environment to live in. As a result of wanting to keep the environment clean, you may notice that she eats the poop of her puppies. However, you should not be too concerned as this behavior will likely go away as the puppies mature.
Diet Deficiencies And Enzyme Deficiency
Today, many dog owners choose to feed their dogs a diet of dry dog food due to its ease. However, dogs need a diet that is diverse and full of essential nutrients. As a result of a less diverse diet, the body of dogs sometimes does not receive enough essential digestive enzymes. This lack of essential enzymes can cause your dog to eat its own poop. By providing your dog with nutritional supplements, you should be able to correct this behavior. A quick visit to the vet should be enough to correct this issue.
Fear And Anxiety
Your dog may be eating its own poop due to underlying fear or anxiety that the dog has. Have you ever punished your dog for pooping in a place that he was not supposed to? If you have done this in the past and now notice that your dog is eating poop, it may be due to fear. Your dog is likely fearful of the consequences of going to the bathroom and likely eating his poop to hide the fact that he went to the bathroom.
If this is allowed to continue, your dog will likely continue looking for feces to ingest as a way of making you happy with them. The best way to correct this behavior is through potty training and positive reinforcement training. Never use negative training techniques with a dog as it only leads to behavior problems and aggression. In addition, if your dog has dedicated in an area it was not supposed to, remove the feces as soon as possible to prevent the dog from eating it and continuing the behavior.
Sometimes, eating poop is a result of stress or boredom. You may notice that if your dog is home alone for an extended period of time, that it is more likely to eat its poop as it has nothing else to do. If this is the case with your dog, you must provide them with toys and mental and physical stimulation while you are away and before you leave. If you are away for work during the day, consider having someone come over and walk your dog to provide them with some physical activity during the day.
EPI – Exocrine Pancreative Insufficiency
Dogs with exocrine pancreative insufficiency, or EPI, can’t break down and absorb nutrients properly. Dogs with this condition need supplements in order to provide them with proper nutrients. Symptoms of EPI include hunger, weight loss, and poop eating. EPI can be a serious disease if not treated properly.
If you believe that your dog is suffering from EPI, it is important that you take your dog to the vet as soon as possible to prevent the dog from slowly starving to death.
Poop Eating Due To Hunger
Dogs that are malnourished have been shown to engage in poop eating behavior. Dogs that are severely malnourished will eat anything that they can find, including their own feces. This even includes the poop of other dogs, cats, or animals. If you have a cat at home, make sure that your dog does not have access to its litter box and cat poop.
Additionally, research has shown that dogs that are described as “greedy eaters” tend to be more likely to engage in poop eating. If your dog is obsessed with food, you may also notice that he eats poop whenever he has the chance. There are a few questions that you should ask yourself to determine if this is why your dog is eating poop:
- Does your dog tend to eat poop when it is most hungry?
- Are you providing your dog with enough to eat?
- Are you providing your dog with essential nutrients?
- Does your dog have a regular feeding schedule that you stick to?
Should You Stop Your Dog From Eating Poop?
Yes, you should stop your dog from eating poop if you catch him in the act. There is nothing to be gained from this behavior and we humans find it quite disgusting. Most loving pet owners allow their dogs to lick them. The thought alone of allowing your dog to lick you after it just ate its poop is enough to cause nausea in anybody!
Preventing Your Dog From Eating Poop
There are a few ways that you can prevent your dog from eating poop. The easiest way is to clean up after your dog every time it goes to the bathroom. This will limit the dog’s access to feces and stop the behavior from happening.
Additionally, your dog may be eating poop for attention or due to boredom. You can prevent this by playing with your dog and offering him lots of attention. As a pet parent, provide him with lots of toys to play with and teach him some different forms of canine obedience for mental stimulation.
There are also digestive chews that you can give your dog that discourage them from eating poop. The chew incorporates digestive enzymes into the dog’s diet and will discourage the dog from eating poop if the cause was due to nutritional deficiency.