In our private Facebook community, one of our most frequently asked questions is ‘why do dogs eat poop?’.
“Coprophagia”, the scientific name for your dog’s poop-eating habit, is probably more common than you might think.
According to a study, one in six dogs is classified as serious poop eaters and in their study of over 1,000 dog parents, 24% were observed eating feces at least once.
In this article, we’ll dive into why dogs eat poop, whether it’s something you should seriously worry about, and of course some things you can do to help eliminate this behavior!
So, let’s get right to it 👇
Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?
While as humans we are completely repulsed by this choice of cuisine, we have to remember that canines have evolved as scavengers and it’s in their nature to eat whatever they find on the ground or in the trash can.
This behavior is quite normal for dogs, especially puppies. Puppies will also naturally engage in this behavior, eating both their own fecal droppings (known as autocoprophagia) and those of other dogs (allocoprophagia), as well as cats and other animals.
When a dog is just a puppy, their moms will actually train them to lick themselves clean and clean off their bodies of feces.
When they get a little older, puppies become naturally curious about the world and their surroundings, and sometimes eating their poop or anything else that’s on the ground nearby is part of that exploration.
While eating their own poop is harmless, eating other dogs or other animal feces can be an issue.
Animal feces may contain parasites, toxins, and viruses. Typically the poop eating behavior of puppies will fade out around 9 months old but as they age and grow, the poop eating may continue as a process of exploration.
Interesting Facts About Dog Poop Eating
During a study of over 1,000 dogs and their parents, they found these fascinating statistics.
- Female dogs are more likely to eat poop than males
- Dogs that live in multi-dog households are more likely to eat their own poop than single dog households
- 92% of the poop eaters preferred fresh, 1-2 day old poop
- 85% of dogs that eat poop, don’t want to eat their own! They like other dogs better.
- Dogs that tend to steal food off tables, tend to eat poop.
Whether these help you stop the behavior or not, they are some interesting stats to know!
Is It Bad For My Dog To Eat Poop?
You should definitely try your absolute best to prevent your dog from eating poop, especially other animals and other dog’s poop. If they continue to dine on feces, you may want to consult your vet to rule out certain health problems.
Sometimes when dogs eat poop they may have issues with:
- Lack of nutrients or enzymes in their diet
- Lack of calories in their diet
- Intestinal, brain or liver issues
- Stress and/or Anxiety
If you are noticing that your dog is eating more poop (or attempting to) than usual or has started recently, keep an eye out for other symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and behavioral changes.
This could be part of a bigger health issue and you should see a vet immediately!
How To Stop Your Dog From Eating Poop
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably hoping for help to get your dog to stop eating poop.
Here are some things that will help! ⤵️
Clean Up The Poop!
The most simple answer for stopping poop eating is, cleanliness! Clean up after your dog in your yard, around your neighborhood where you are walking them and at parks you often visit.
If the poop isn’t sitting around waiting to be eaten, it won’t be eaten.
If your dog tends to go after other animals poop (inside or outside the household) make sure to keep litter boxes and cages clean.
Supervise your dog during your walks and work on impulse control training to keep them away from eating poop and any other trash or food on the ground.
You can also focus your training efforts on behaviors such as “leave it” or “come”.
Mental Stimulation & Exercise
Is your dog bored? Boredom can be a huge reason why your dog is looking to chow down on feces.
Dog parents should make a constant effort to spend enough time engaging their fur babies with activities and exercise.
Mental stimulation is a great way to prevent your dog from bad habits and poor behavior, including poop eating! Besides taking your dog outside for bathroom breaks, engage them in play as much as possible.
A quick 5 minute game of fetch, a jog around the block, 20 minutes at the park or some tug of war inside on a rainy day can help stimulate your dog’s brain and tire them out!
One of the reasons your dog could be eating poop is a lack of vitamins and nutrients in their diet. Some scientific research has shown that dogs who tend to eat feces are lacking Vitamin-B.
Our dog’s diet often consists of mostly carbohydrates and can lack the enzymes needed.
Keep in mind, many of the supplements on the market have mixed reviews.
With anything health-related, be sure to consult your vet.
Control Their Environment
It’s best if you are leaving a dog unsupervised to gate off areas of the home or the yard where they are likely to get into trouble.
Like any other hazard you want your dog to keep away from, putting up boundaries and training them to keep away from litter boxes and cages is a good idea.
Punishment & Training
Believe it or not, sometimes dogs will eat their own feces to avoid punishment. If you punish and yell at your dog for accidents in the house and have not trained them properly, they could be eating their own poop because they are nervous to get into trouble.
To prevent this, make sure you are properly training your dog to let you know when they have to go to the bathroom and to only go to the bathroom in the designated area you’ve taught them.
This type of training should start when they are young or when they first enter your home. [Check out our free course 30 Day Perfect Pup for potty training tips!]
Additionally, it’s important to remember that you should never punish your dog for eating poop.
Punishing your dog for poop eating will likely lead to more problems like submissive urination, increased anxiety, and other issues.
Recap of Why Dogs Eat Poop
The moral of the story is – don’t be grossed out by your furry best friend because he considers feces a main course.
Since dogs are animals, they definitely have habits that we as humans don’t understand and we don’t always know how to prevent.
With some training and by taking action to be cleaner and keep your dog healthy, you can prevent them from eating poop!
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