We love our canine companions to death! However, all that love seems to disappear into thin air when we see repulsive habits like drinking from the toilet, rolling in dirt, licking their balls and the top of the list, eating shit. Many of us lament unable to understand why our beloved furry friend stoops so low to eat something that’s just gross. Just for the record, researchers have observed that they aren’t doing that to make us cringe in disgust but there is a deeper significance behind this behavior.
If you think only your dog could do something so revolting, then you are wrong. Animals like pigs, monkeys, rabbits, young pandas, hippos, and elephants all eat feces so that they can derive the nutrition their diet is lacking. In these animals, poor gut flora, inadequate nutrient intake and absorption also make it necessary for them to eat poop.1
Why Do Our Dogs Eat Poop?
The act of eating feces is known as coprophagia. Many a time when our dogs indulge in poop eating, they are just doing so to rectify a deficiency. Lack of enough digestive enzymes, pancreatic insulin or sluggish digestion can all force a dog to eat poop. That’s why dogs prefer to eat well-formed poop which is fresh or not older than 2 days when compared to loose stools, due to a higher enzyme and nutritional content in the former.
This behavior is pretty evident during the first year of life and often fades away before the puppy turns 9 months old. If our dogs eat their own poop, it’s still bearable but eating the feces of other animals means they are putting themselves at risk of serious microbial and parasitic infections.
Following are the reasons that cause dogs to repeat their poop-eating behavior:2
- They are often in isolated spaces like kennels, apartments, basements, with no social interaction or play time
- They have spent a considerable amount of time in a crowded shelter or left starved for long durations
- They’ ve been through harsh obedience training where they were punished for pooping, so they might tend to eat it up to avoid getting reprimanded
- To get the attention of their humans, dogs who feel unloved eat poop just
- If your dog has been fed next to where he poops, he will tend to associate poop’s odor with food and start eating it thinking that’s food
- If your dog is living with an elderly dog who has fecal incontinence, then this behavior can be seen sometimes
How To Stop Your Dog From Eating Poop?
According to many veterinarians and dog owners, positive reinforcement through behavioral training is the best way to defer your canine from eating poop. These include:3
- Feed your dog a diet rich in B-complex vitamins as many dogs eat fecal matter to compensate for their vitamins
- Give him a high-protein and low-carbohydrate diet as these are rich in digestive enzymes
- Spray pungent-smelling agents like garlic, peppermint oil, monosodium glutamate, parsley on your dog’s poop so that it is averted to eating it
- Keep your dog’s surroundings and living areas clean with no litter
- If you own a cat, keep a litter box for your cat, that’s out of reach for your dog
- While walking your dog, command him assertively to move away after pooping and appreciate him with a tasty treat while you clean up the mess
- Shower him with lots of attention and make sure that he is mentally and physically stimulated with exercise
This behavior is not normal when a dog displays it, either you’ve to take a good look at what is that your pet pooch is lacking. If it’s the lack of attention, make sure to spend quality time with your pet to make her feel loved. If she still eats poop despite adequate care, then you need to visit a veterinarian who would recommend new diet modifications for her.
|↑1||Takahashi, T., and E. Sakaguchi. “Behaviors and nutritional importance of coprophagy in captive adult and young nutrias (Myocastor coypus).” Journal of Comparative Physiology B: Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology 168, no. 4 (1998): 281-288.|
|↑2||Why Dogs Eat Poop and How to Stop It?AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB|
|↑3||Dog Tip: Stopping Dogs From Eating Poop.Partnership for Animal Welfare|