Why Does My Dog Eat Poop? How to Stop it?

Let’s be real; we all have a dog with questionable habits. Whether it’s howling in the middle of the night, sniffing each other’s butt, or pretending to be dead, there’s nothing as bizarre (and unfortunately, alarming) as eating their own feces. You might ask, “why does my dog eat poop?”, and veterinarians will provide you with a range of reasons depending on your dog’s condition and upbringing.

If you’re a canine owner who’s struggling with a poop-eating dog, here is an in-depth insight into why they do it and how to stop the habit.

What is Coprophagia?

Derived from the Greek word copros which means “feces” and phagein, which means “to eat”, Coprophagia is a scientific nomenclature to describe poop-eating habit. While the habit sounds unfamiliar, there is a large number of dogs who adopt it in their life. In fact, noted by the American Kennel Club, a study conducted in 2012 tells that one of six dogs is a grave poop-eater, meaning that they’ve caught in acts five times.

“Why does my dog eat poop?” Dr. Benjamin Hart from UCLA explained that Coprophagia stems from the innate nature of canine to protect their packs from parasites in their den or place to rest. In short, Coprophagia in dogs isn’t a new thing; it’s always been in dogs’ DNA all along. Not to mention that when food is scarce, dogs’ are forced to eat their own food to stay alive. Coprophagia seems repugnant for humans, but for dogs, it’s a matter of survival.

Why Does My Dog Eat Poop?

dog eat poop
why do dogs eat poop?

Do you know that dump-eating habits most commonly found in multi-dogs households? Study shows that only 20% of dogs in single households do it, whereas the number rises into 33% amongst dogs in multi-dogs households.

There are varying reasons why dogs eat poop. However, the reasons can be divided into either medical conditions or behavioral issues.

Medical Conditions

Here are some possible medical conditions that drive your pups into eating their own feces.

  • Parasites

If your dog has an intestinal parasite, there’s a big chance that they will eat their own stool. Parasites need food, which they acquire by absorbing your dog’s meal intake. As a result, your dog will try to get the nutrients back from their secretion.

  • Hydrochloric Acid Deficiency

Roger DeHann, DVM considers that a deficiency of hydrochloric acid, which breaks down protein, plays a role in Coprophagia. Since your dog can’t absorb nutrients efficiently, there’s a chance that they will seek it from their poop.

  • Underfeeding

As previously mentioned, stool-eating has always been done by dogs as a means of survival. Make sure to feed your dog enough so that they won’t seek it from other sources.

  • Behavioral Issues

Aside from medical conditions, Coprophagia can also be triggered by behavioral issues.

  • Attention-Seeking

It’s no doubt that our dogs love attention, and you’d be surprised at how far they would go to achieve it. Stool-eating is bizarre for humans. Unquestionably, finding out your dog in the act will result in a shocked or terrified reaction. The key is not to overreact.

  • Anxiety

Like humans, dogs can also experience anxiety. Dog anxiety usually occurs after harsh training, in which they are often scolded and punished. Stool-eating then became a coping mechanism to avoid negative reactions from their owners, which will lead to another scolding and punishment once they’ve been found out.

  • Boredom

As weird as it sounds, sometimes dog eats their own stool for the sake of entertainment. Just make sure to keep them occupied or tired not to try anything vicious.

  • Avoiding Punishment

When you punish dogs for minor stuff, they will take it into hearts and are afraid to repeat the same mistake. Coprophagia is one of the results when dogs want to hide their mistakes.

  • Mimicking Their Mothers

Like mothers, like puppies. Dogs adapt to their mother’s habits, and this includes the feces-eating part. A mother might have to eat her pup’s stool to “clean” them and avoid predators from finding out their scent. This results in mimicry and the pups will soon begin to eat their stool as well.

What Are the Risks If Your Dog Eats Poop?

While eating one’s stool isn’t necessarily harmful, your dog can transmit parasites and diseases to you or other animals through saliva and contact. If your dogs haven’t stopped their stool-eating habit, be sure to keep your hands clean after in contact with your dog’s mouth or saliva.

However, it may be different if your dog loves to eat others’ stool. Eating random stool might lead to infection or disease from intestinal parasites. It’s best to stop their habit so that they won’t have to deal with the consequences.

How to Stop Your Dogs from Eating Poop

Veterinarians and experts have decided that these methods are potent in stopping Coprophagia:

  • Vitamin and Supplements

It is believed that when your dog lacks something in their diet, they will search for it in their own stool. Hence, giving them a multivitamin or supplement will do great in dealing with it.

  • Feed Them Nutritious Food

Consider consulting your veterinarian to find the best diet for your pooch. They should consume a generous amount of vitamin, protein, carbohydrate, and mineral that can optimally support their growth.

  • Clean up Their Stool Immediately

Do not give them any chance to play or even eat their stool anymore. When you and your dog are playing outside, be sure to put them on a leash and monitor them all the time. When they start to take interest in a random stool, distract them by giving them a treat instead.

  • Engage Them in Positive Activities

Not only that it helps their Coprophagia habit, engaging them in sports or plays helps to increase their physical and mental wellbeing. Don’t forget to take breaks when they’re tired.

Adult Dogs Who Eat Poop

Since questions such as “why does my dog eat poop?” mostly refer to puppies, what happens when it happens to an adult dog?

Firstly, check them to the veterinarian to make sure that they’re healthy. If so, then there’s a big chance that they’re doing it due to anxiety, boredom, or attention-seeking. To stop it, you can always use the same methods in treating Coprophagia in pups.

Conclusion

The answer to “why does my dog eat poop?” ranges from medical reasons to the behavioral ones. Whether it’s due to an enzyme deficiency or attention-seeking, Coprophagia must be stopped before it gets even worse. You can help them by giving extra nutrition, cleaning their stool, or disciplining them. If you’re confused, make sure to contact your nearest vet and let them decide on the best solution.

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