Wondering why do dogs eat poop? Is your puppy also eating its own poop or even cat’s poop? You are not alone.
Eating feces (poop) is a common phenomenon among various animals and is called “coprophagy” (“copro” = feces “phagia” = eating).
Dogs, especially puppies, tend to eat poop from various sources including its poop, poop of other dogs, cat poop or poop of other animals.
Eating poop is common in dogs and rare in cats. The phenomenon is considered normal only when a female dog eats her pups’ poop, from the moment they are born until the age of three weeks.
Eating feces is harmful because it causes re-infection with intestinal parasites and inflammation of the digestive tract. In addition, this obscene habit causes bad breath and sometimes even urination and increased thirst, weight loss, and vomiting and diarrhea.
The causes of fecal eating are divided into behavioral and medical factors:
One of the side effects of taking steroids is increased hunger. To deal with the feeling of hunger many dogs start eating poop.
A hungry dog will look for other food sources that we may not like (like poop)
Intestinal parasites need a lot of food. One of the reasons that our dog starts eating poop is to supplement a mineral deficiency that the parasites absorb in their place.
Certain diseases like diabetes and thyroid problems can make your dog feel hungry… even if he is not hungry. Therefore, when he is looking for something nutritious to eat he can definitely eat poop as well.
Our dog once licked or ate some poop for some reason, and saw that well, so why should he stop?
Dogs caring for their puppies lick the puppies’ anus to encourage them to shit and eat the feces to maintain cleanliness. Sometimes the puppies, who see their mother eating the feces, learn to do it from her .
A dog that grew up in a crowded environment, for example in a cage or small cell, could learn to maintain the cleanliness of its environment by eating its own feces.
Sometimes, if in the past we have been angry on our dog for defecating at home, our dog will try to ” hide the evidence” by eating his own poop.
A bored dog who has no other preoccupation may play / eat his feces out of boredom.
Similar to the previous reason, our dog may have learned that eating feces is a wonderful way to get us to pay attention to him and give him attention immediately. In some situations a dog will prefer any attention – even if it is unpleasant – over a complete lack of attention.
The simplest way to deal with the problem is, of course, to prevent it: collect the feces immediately when the dog has shitted, prevent the dog from accessing the cat’s sandbox, and walk with him while tied to a leash until we train him well enough to let him run in the park without losing control. In extreme cases a safety mouth barrier can be used to prevent the dog from putting things in its mouth.
It is important to examine the possible reasons for eating poop in our dog. Of course the first thing to do is take our dog to a vet for a comprehensive checkup to fix health issues.
To find out the reason for eating the poop, a vet will ask the owner about the dog’s behavioral and medical history, and perform additional tests that can confirm suspicion of a background illness. If a background illness has been found and treated, this eating poop behaviour will probably stop.
Is the dog bored? Is he lonely? Is he getting enough opportunities to discharge energy during the day, and getting enough attention ? Does he have interesting toys to mess with? All of these can help if the dog eats poop out of boredom.
Do not scold the dog, “fix” him or punish him in any way, it may aggravate the problem and in any case it may damage the relationship between us. It is possible to create the condition that every time he sees / smells poop, the most profitable thing to do is to make eye contact with us, and in return the dog receives a delicious and exciting snack. It is recommended to consult a trainer who will build us a customized work plan, and will accompany the process until a successful solution to the problem.
Beyond being a particularly repulsive habit, eating feces poses a health risk to dogs, who may be infected with diseases, intestinal parasites, park worms or suffer from diarrhea and vomiting which can cause dehydration and other problems. That is why it is very important to address the problem!