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Dogs develop weird habits, one of which is eating their own fecal matter. It’s a gross sight to behold, but something that can be fixed with a proper approach. Knowing how to stop dogs from eating their poop isn’t easy, but there’s a workaround for every dog owner. You just have to be patient and prepared. Take note that punishing your dog for eating its poop is a no-no.
Below, I discussed what causes a dog to eat its poop and what you can do about it. When in doubt, it’s always best to call a veterinarian for professional advice.
Should I worry about my dog eating poop?
Eating fecal matter is not a safe habit so it should be considered a cause of concern. Also known as coprophagia, this condition happens to dogs, cats, and even humans (yes, gross).
In fact, about 16% of domesticated canines are considered serious stool eaters after being caught snacking on fecal matter at least five times. Meanwhile, about a quarter of the canine population has been observed to consume stool at least once.
Your dog can get sick from eating poop, especially if it came from a different canine. Besides, there’s a good reason why our bodies expel poop: it’s filled with bacteria and waste matter. What has been released by the body should never be brought back.
Aside from that, dog poop is a carrier of intestinal parasites. If your dog ingests poop of another dog, he stands the chance of acquiring worms, among other infections.
One of the notorious threats here is the giardia parasite. This can be found on the poop of animals that have consumed contaminated water or food. The giardia parasite will cause sudden and blood-tinged diarrhea as well as vomiting, weight loss, fever, lethargy, and dehydration.
Remember that dog poop has no nutritional value. While poop-eating is a hardwired nature among canines, you should not let your pet do it.
Why do dogs eat their poop?
There are a lot of reasons why a dog will start eating its poop. Also, there are as many myths about it. According to experts, the following are the most common reasons behind the behavior:
🐶It’s your dog’s instinct
In the wild, dogs consume their poop so predators won’t smell it. It’s their way of keeping their dens and tracks clean. Since they don’t dig like cats, they just eat their stool.
Aside from that, mother dogs lick their puppies clean, including their poop. The mother dog will soon outgrow this once the puppies are older.
🐶Your dog is still a puppy
Puppies are notorious for being stool eaters. I once fostered a two-month-old mutt from a local shelter and boy, he’s obsessed with poop. This is considered normal as pups are yet to get used to a specific diet. Soon enough, the pooch will outgrow it. However, some carry the habit even during adulthood.
🐶It’s attention-seeking behavior
Dogs that have been left alone and without proper mental stimulation will resort to poop eating. Your dog does this to catch your attention. If your pet succeeds in getting what it wants, he will keep doing it in the future. For some dogs, getting in trouble is a good thing because you’re paying attention. Besides, your dog doesn’t know that eating its poop is a bad thing.
🐶You got your dog from a puppy mill
Canines in puppy mills are bred and raised in poor conditions. They are often deprived of food and their cage aren’t cleaned regularly. With this, the pooch will decide to eat his poop to clean up. The dog will keep doing it even if it has been rehomed.
🐶It could be boredom
Bored dogs will often vent their energy into eating their poop. The doggo entertains itself by eating poop nearby. It’s important to exercise the canine to prevent this tendency.
🐶Consider malabsorption issues
Malabsorption occurs when a dog didn’t digest food properly. This causes the nutrition to be flushed out with the poop. With this, eating the poop back is your dog’s way of retrieving the lost nutrition. Some canines will do the same on cat and geese poop if there are undigested matter still left on it.
Being underfed can push a dog to resort to inedible items. A hungry dog will scavenge for food. And since poop is smelly, they will often snack on it.
If your dog is losing weight on its new diet, it’s a sign that you need to feed it more.
🐶It just tastes good
When you’re a dog, poop just tastes good. A canine’s sense of smell and taste always override their logic. Dog poop can contain undigested protein, which is appealing to canines.
A few drugs may trigger a dog’s poop-eating habit. Steroids are the most common culprit of this behavior. This is often given to canines to abate inflammation, allergic reactions, and other emergencies.
One of the side effects of steroids is increased hunger. And if it’s not yet time for a meal, your pooch will look for alternatives. Unfortunately, their poop is a viable option. If your dog is under a steroid prescription, make sure that you clean up after him immediately.
Lastly, your dog is probably suffering from a parasitic infection. The increased hunger and loss of nutrition will force a dog to compensate for their diet. This includes eating their own poop and of other animals. Take note that this must be addressed right away because both poop eating and parasites are dangerous.
How to stop your dog from eating poop
Knowing how to stop dogs from eating their poop is easy with the right methods. The following are some of the effective options you can try:
✔️Clean after the dog
Your dog can’t eat poop if there aren’t any available. Make sure that you pick up your dog’s stool using a poop bag. This way, the doggo can’t go back and snack on it.
Aside from that, you should pay close attention whenever your doggo is eliminating. While you get busy on your phone, the pooch might be filling itself with its fresh poop.
As a responsible dog owner, you should dispose of your dog’s fecal matter in a sealed bag. This will be a big favor to garbage collectors so they wouldn’t have to deal with the mess and gross smell.
✔️Rule out health problems
Poop-eating can be due to a health problem. If your dog is also exhibiting other symptoms like lethargy, poor appetite, and fever, you should bring it to the vet right away. Your pooch might be dealing with enzyme issues or malabsorption. Only the vet can diagnose this properly and provide the right treatment.
Never try to self-medicate your dog over a suspected condition. This will only cause more problems and more expensive vet bills.
Take note that your dog’s stool-eating habits will not stop unless you get into the root of the problem. Band-aid solutions will offer temporary results, but it also means putting your dog’s health at risk.
✔️Feed the dog right
One of the reasons why dogs eat their poop is improper diet. It’s important to assess your dog’s diet and see where you’re lacking. You can also consult a veterinarian or pet nutritionist to ensure that your dog is receiving the nutrition it needs.
Each dog is different and so is their dietary needs. While you can buy cheap dog food products, it’s not always beneficial for your pet. In the end, your dog will only consume fillers with very little nutritional value.
A high-quality dog food product will save you more money in the long run because it will help reduce vet visits to your pet. Most of all, it will also reduce the likelihood of your dog eating its poop.
✔️Use a poop-eating deterrent
If all else fails, you can add a poop-deterrent solution to your canine’s diet. This commercially formulated solution will make your dog’s poop foul-tasting. It has to be added to your dog’s food. This is typically tasteless or masked with a flavor to prevent ruining your pet’s appetite.
Aside from that, this product also comes in a form of treats. Just make sure that the treats aren’t packed with salts and artificial flavoring that could cause stomach irritation on your dog.
✔️Exercise your dog
A tired dog is a happy dog. By draining your dog’s excess energy, it will not have the will to sniff around and locate a fecal matter. Also, it will solve attention-seeking behavior and boredom, which are two common reasons why dogs eat their poop.
Daily walks will do wonders for your dog. You should also schedule short yet multiple playtime sessions throughout the day.
✔️Pair with training
Aside from the mentioned solutions here, training will also help stop the poop-eating habit. Whenever your dog starts sniffing on its poop, call its name. If the doggo leaves the stool and heeds your call, reward it with a tasty treat. Over time, your dog will realize that leaving the poop alone is a rewarded behavior.
Brushing up on your dog’s obedience training is crucial to make this method effective. Also, take it slowly and don’t punish the canine. I suggest leashing your dog whenever it has to eliminate so you can stop their poop-eating habits in case the dog doesn’t listen to your commands.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why do dogs eat rabbit poop?
A: Dogs are attracted to rabbit poop because of its smell and potential nutritional value. A rabbit’s diet is mostly composed of vegetables and greens. When they poop, some of the proteins and fibers of their food will not be digested. And since dogs have a tendency to eat grass, eating rabbit poop isn’t surprising. Still, it shouldn’t be encouraged.
Q: Why do dogs eat their vomit?
A: Similar to eating their poop, dogs find vomit appealing because it has undigested food. In fact, vomit is tastier than poop. It’s gross but most of the time, it’s harmless since it came from your dog’s stomach and hasn’t been digested yet. However, if the pooch puked on a dirty surface, you shouldn’t let it eat its vomit.
Q: Do I need to clean my dog’s mouth after he eats poop?
A: It’s gross to imagine your dog eating poop then giving you kisses. Toothbrushing your dog and using a dog toothpaste should do the trick. You can also chop some parsley and add it to your dog’s food. Take note that you should never give mouthwash to your pet.
Q: Why does my dog throw up after eating poop?
A: Vomiting is the body’s way of expelling irritants. So if your pooch vomited after eating poop, it just means that their digestive system isn’t accepting the stool because it’s contaminated. This is why it’s important to stop your dog’s habit of eating fecal matter.
Q: Why is my old dog suddenly eating poop?
A: Old age can cause a lot of trouble for a canine’s health. The pooch may experience pancreatic issues, which can lead to enzyme deficiencies. When this occurs, the dog will try to augment the deficiency by eating poop. Dogs don’t have the same logic as we do so they will try to eat almost anything that’s smelly or tasty.
Q: Why is my dog eating poop only during our walks?
A: It’s possible that your dog loves the new smell of other animals’ poop. It’s important to pay attention to your dog and to intervene whenever it tries to snack on fecal matter. You’ll never know when an animal poop has giardia, which will make the dog sick.
Knowing how to stop dogs from eating their poop is important to prevent potential infections. Aside from that, stool-eating is unhygienic and shouldn’t be tolerated. If all your efforts aren’t seeing any results, you can always consult with a veterinarian or a dog trainer. Never shy away from professional help.
Is your dog eating its own poop? How are you dealing with it? Share your own tips below!