Of all the gross habits that our pets may have, eating poop is the most disgusting. It is not uncommon to see people giving up on their poop-eating dogs. Fortunately, researchers have conducted several studies to understand such dog behaviour and have come up with possible solutions to enable dogs to stop the practice of coprophagia.
Coprophagia is normal in some animals
Rabbits are known to thrive on their droppings, which is a major source of key nutrients for them. Though, eating poop does not come naturally to dogs, it can be a temporary stage in their puppyhood. When mother dogs lick their pups to stimulate and clean their poop, pups can adapt to the habit. Coprophagia in puppies is often agreed as a part of their exploration. In fact, some puppies can develop the habit of eating the poop of other animals too. In general, puppies get rid of this habit by about nine months of age. All in all, this habit is not considered harmful unless the poop that they are eating contains toxins, worms, parasites, etc.
Dogs Eat Poop, But Why?
It has been found that a dog suddenly starts showing coprophagia because of certain stress or some other behaviour stimulating reasons such as:
- Stress: If a dog is undergoing harsh training that includes severe scolding and/or punishment, it may try to eat its own poop to avoid those punishments. ‘Accidents’ do happen and the dog who is still not trained for pooping outside may try to hide the evidence of those accidents because of the stress of getting a harsh punishment. Unfortunately, this habit calls for another scolding or punishment for them.
- Loneliness: Studies show that dogs that are kept or tied alone in empty rooms or kennels for longer time have more probability to have coprophagia. Dogs who live among people have much less of this probability.
- Attracting owner’s attention: Dogs love us unconditionally. In certain situations when dog owners started noticing their dogs showing coprophagia was when the owners were not spending much time with their dogs. This habit can also be linked with their need to get their owner’s attention and seeking some reaction.
- Crowded confinement: It is often noted that dogs that are made to live in small compartments, such as in rescue shelters, show more signs of coprophagia.
- Wrong interpretation: Dogs may get confused by the mixing odors of their own poop and of the food served to them if served inappropriately close together. This confusion may also trigger their habit of eating poop.
- Co-existing with other sick dogs: Researchers believe that dogs have primal nature to protect their packs from possible danger from predators. In situations when two or more dogs live together where one may be suffering from diarrhoea out of sickness or old age, the healthy dog may try to eat the other’s poop to guard their pack by eliminating the poop.
Also, the habit of dogs to eat poop may be associated with several health conditions including:
• Parasites infection
• High deficiency of major nutrients
• Mal-absorption disease
• Diseases that can surge appetite such as thyroid disorders, cushing’s disease, diabetes, etc.
• High use of steroids and other strong drugs
How to Prevent Dog Eating Poop
If the reason of your dog’s coprophagia is malnutrition, there are some great ideas to stop this habit in dogs.
- Vitamin supplementation: The deficiency of Vitamin B has been long associated with dogs’ habit of eating poop. Several studies conducted on this have revealed that adding more nutrients to dogs’ diet often helped in their coprophagia.
- Enzyme supplementation: The evolution of dogs, who are canines, have brought drastic changes in their diets too. They are offered less of meat-based nutrients and more of carbs today. When some researchers offered dogs papain containing meat tenderizer, the results were favourable.
- Odor-aversion products: Just like humans, dogs also have aversion to certain odors. You can find out to which smell does your dog hate, and you can spray that odor over his poop. Slowly, this aversion can break his poop-eating habit.
- Proper Training and hygiene: The easiest way to stop your dog eating his poop is to clean it as soon as he passes the stool. If you have more pets and you fear that your dog might want to eat others’ poop too, you need to clean a little more extra. However, it would be best to train your dogs to certain acceptable behaviour. It might be a real challenge if your dog is quick enough to poop, turn, and ingest it back. You may train him to ask for an appreciating treat as soon as he has emptied his bowel.
Does your dog have some grossly annoying habits? Share them with us in the comments section.