Eating poop (AKA corprophagia) may be stomach turning to pet owners, but it is a very common habit to many household dogs but, why?
Eating poop may be simply out of boredom and may be a bad habit they have, or it may be an indication of something more serious that is medical in nature such as diabetes. So, as distasteful as eating poop may be to us as owners it is important to look as the possible reasons.
First, let’s cover all the possible medical reasons your dog may be eating poop.
Gastrointestinal parasites (worms) could be one of the many reasons your dog eats poop because these worms are more than likely absorbing a lot of the nutrients your dog needs and so, will be craving poop to get the nutrients they have lost in the digestive process. So, what do you do? Your vet or veterinary nurse would be able to advise you on the best treatment for this and have a preventative healthcare plan in place for you.
• Conditions causing increased appetite
Some diseases like, diabetes or thyroid issues can cause your dog’s appetite to be increased so much so that they will scavenge to “fill the gap” and often the easiest thing they find to eat is of course, poop. Or, if your dog is on medications such as steroids, which can also increase their appetite, you might notice then that your dog is scavenging too.
In this case, it is best to discourage your dogs behaviour and perhaps provide them with a toy that mimics scavenging for their food (kongs, lick plates, mazes etc.) to distract them from poop and, keep them entertained for up to what could be a couple of hours and who couldn’t do with a couple of hours to themselves every now and again ?
Malabsorbtion (not able to take in many of the nutrients from the food they eat) or any condition that may lead to poor nutrition absorption in the gut can eventually be a cause for poop eating. Not only may your dog want to eat dog poop because of those tasty undigested nutrients but will more than likely prefer to eat cat poop. so what do you do? it is important to know what kind (or whose) poop your dog is eating because it could indicate that there’s something that could be helped medically going on and a trip to the vet could be just the ticket!
Now that we’ve covered the possible medical reasons for your dog eating poop (and your vet has given your dog the all clear) it’s time to look at his or her behavioural tendencies.
• Doggy see, doggy doo-doo
There is a key time in some female dogs’ life that cleanliness is vital. This is when she has given birth and is cleaning up after her litter which is very much in the natural order of things. She knows that having a clean den is a priority to raise healthy puppies. This nearly obsessive need to be clean could drive other dogs in the area or that have seen her do this to clean up too!
• Puppies and scavengers
Puppies, much like children, are very curious or their surroundings and use a tool they all have in common to explore and learn. Yup, you guessed it, their mouth! Puppies are likely to have a nibble out of poop if they find it out of pure curiosity and will more than likely grow out of it. If it happens that your puppy has not grown out of this behaviour it is important to remember that canines are scavengers that use their nose to find food. Unlike us, dogs aren’t disgusted by poop and if they can smell nutrients in there you can be sure they will take it if they are given the opportunity.
stress is one of the most common triggers for your dog to eat poop. So, what can stress a dog out? Is your dog in a kennel all day? Has he/she been out to walk enough lately or is the house too loud for them? There are many factors that could stress your dog and it is important as a dog owner to find out what it is that could be stressing your pooch out.
You know when you’re bored, and you go to the kitchen just because you’re bored? Well, dogs do the same thing! Except, its not the fridge it’s the garden. As an owner, you need to provide entertainment for your pet (walks, fetch, tug-o-war etc) if you don’t provide these things for your dog, don’t be surprised if they find other ways to entertain themselves!
All in all, if your vet has given your dog the all clear in their health check-up, it is up to us as owners to discourage poop-eating behaviours and get some good quality training and entertainment on board for our four-legged friends.