To most humans, especially to non-dog owners, the idea of poop-eating is completely gross. I mean, come on – a dog eating its own poop? Why would he want to do that? It’s dirty, it’s unsanitary― heck, it could probably even kill the dog!
But did you know that there are actually a number of reasons behind the kind-of-really-icky behaviour? Believe it or not as bizarre as it may sound, they are several legitimately good reasons for a dog to be eating his poop―let’s go over some of them.
Dogs Eat Poop Because They Want Attention
Dogs know that when they eat poop, they get a big reaction from their humans. Considering the fact that most dogs love attention (especially that from his owners), you shouldn’t be too surprised to find Fido eating his excrements from time to time―you’re giving him the attention that he craves after all (even if it is negative attention).
To them, it’s a behaviour that gets them what they want, for you to focus on them―so of course they’ll keep doing it! The easiest way to remedy this is to “not make a big deal” from his poop-eating.
Dogs Eat Poop Because They See Other Dogs Doing it
Dogs learn a lot from one another, including bad habits. If they notice that a dog is eating their poop at the other end of the grass, they may think it’s okay and be tempted to do the same the next time you bring him to the park. This is especially common in puppiesーthe young fur balls simply don’t know any better!
In fact, they may have even observed and learnt the behaviour from their mother, who in some cases, eat her puppies’ feces shortly after birth as means of keeping her den clean.
Dogs Eat Poop Due to a Lack of Enzymes/Nutrients in the Body
A dog may also eat his own poop if he doesn’t get enough enzymes from his diet―this is called Enzyme deficiency. Out in the wild, dogs are able to get the necessary enzymes (aka things that help with digestion) from simply eating the prey that they hunt down.
In your kitchen however, things can be a little different. Depending on the food that you feed your dog, he may or may not be receiving the appropriate amounts of enzymes necessary from his diet. A lack of digestive enzymes will not lead to a happy dog. In attempts to make themselves feel better, dogs may be attracted to gulping down feces―they are loaded with (expelled) nutrients and enzymes after all!
A lack of other minerals and other nutrients such as Vitamin B have also been linked to poop-eating in four legged canines.
Dogs Eat Poop Because They are Overfed
An overfed dog can also be prone to eating his poop. When a dog is fed too much, their bodies aren’t able to absorb all of the nutrients from the food, causing them to be expelled in the form of feces out the other end of your pet.
Consider this, Fido turns around from doing his business and sees free food embedded within his poop (which in turn causes it to smell incredibly inviting)―you bet he’s going to try to eat it! Think of it as your dog trying to “recycle” nutrients from his own poop.
How Can I Stop my Dog from Eating Poop?
The easiest and possibly most obvious answer is to swiftly clean up after your pet. If there is no poop on the ground, then there is no poop for him to eat!
However if you feel that there may be other underlying reasons for his behaviour (eg. parasites, nutrient deficiencies) then it may be a good idea to take him to the vet, better safe than sorry, right?
Dogs Eating Poop Can be Normal in Some Cases
While we’ve discussed some of the possible reasons behind the poop-eating behaviour, remember that dogs are dogs and poop eating can be instinctive and completely normal.
Let’s go back to the mother dog example―as part of her natural instincts, she may try to keep her den clean by eating her puppies’ poop; this helps to ensure that any predators in the area won’t be attracted by the scent.
“Okay, so dogs have been doing this kind of thing for generations now and this is completely normal?”
For most dogs, yes it’s normal and at most times, it’s okayーbut still, it depends on the individual pet.
But if at any time, you suspect there to be underlying medical reasons behind his behaviour such as a lack of nutrients or even parasites (which causes your pet to be extra hungry as they steal his nutrients), it is highly recommended for you to bring him to a veterinarian for a check-up.
Alternatively, if you ever have any doubts regarding his coprophagia (aka poop-eating), it’s also best to take him to the vet’s office for a professional opinion.