Our canine companions have some pretty gross habits—they drink from the toilet and they lick their own butts—one of their most disgusting habits, however, has to be the fact that they like to snack on their own poop. They don’t do it to gross us out but there’s nothing more repulsive than a piece of poop in a dogs’ mouth. If a dog is given up for adoption, or even put to sleep, poop eating is often the reason why this might occur. In today’s post we’ll discuss why dogs’ eat their own poop and we’ll learn what, if anything, we can do to try to stop this particular type of behavior.
Eating poop is called COPROPHAGIA (kop-ru-fey-jee-uh) and dogs do it for one of two reasons—behavior or physiological issues—and while it may seem vile to dog owners, to dogs’ it’s perfectly normal canine behavior. Dogs, before domestication, were scavengers and they ate whatever they could find from wherever they could find it. Coprophagia was a way to prevent starvation when food was scarce.
Some animals, such as rabbits, do eat poop in order to obtain key nutrients, but for dogs, this isn’t necessary. It is perfectly normal, however for dogs to eat poop during certain phases of their lives.
Mother dogs will lick their puppies to encourage them to pee and poop. Once they poop she will clean their poop—this behavior occurs for the first three weeks the puppies are alive. Once the puppies are old enough, they too will eat their own poop, this is called AUTOCOPROPHAGIA. Puppies will also eat the poop of other animals, including cats, horses and even geese. When this occurs it is called ALLOCOPHRAGIA.
When a puppy or dog eats his own poop, it causes no harm but consuming poop from other animals might cause health issues, if, for example, the poop is contaminated with parasites.
If coprophagia occurs in puppies, it’s perfectly normal. Puppies eat poop because they’re exploring the world around them. They take in the sights and smells of their environment and like small children, they aren’t picky about what they put into their mouths.
If coprophagia occurs in adult dogs it may be a sign of an underlying health condition such parasites, diabetes, or thyroid disease. If your veterinarian is able to rule these out he might then suggest a change in your dogs’ diet. Adult dogs often eat poop because their diet is lacking in key nutrients or calories.
Confinement: Dogs kept alone in a kennel or a small, confined space, are more likely to eat poop than dogs that have human companionship. It’s not unusual to see this type of behavior occur in animals that live in shelters.
Anxiety: Dogs also eat poop because of trauma that might have occurred during housetraining. If a dog poops and then eats it, he might be trying to hide the evidence.
Attention: Dogs that eat their own poop are often seeking attention from their owners, and they often get it. If you want the behavior to stop, don’t overreact when you see your dog doing this.
Inappropriate association with real food: Dogs fed in close proximity to their poop begin to make a connection between their food and their poop. When this occurs over a long period of time, dogs will no longer know the difference between their poop and their food. It’s best to keep your dogs’ food away from where he uses the bathroom.
Scenting: Puppies often get confused when they smell the odor of poop on their mothers’ breath after she cleans them. Mothers also have a tendency to throw up food mixed with puppy poop—this often sends the wrong signal to her offspring—it’s called “appetitive inoculation.” When this occurs, puppies often develop a bad habit of eating items that aren’t considered to be food.
How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Poop
Try the following to stop your dog from consuming poop:
Vitamins: Dogs that eat poop may be lacking in key nutrients such as Vitamin B or other nutrients.
Enzymes: The modern dog diet is high in carbohydrates and lower in meat and fat than the diet of their canine ancestors. Ask your veterinarian about supplementing your dogs’ diet with the enzyme papain. It’s a meat tenderizer that has been successful in helping dogs overcome their poop eating habit.
Keep Your Yard Clean and Poop Free: Clean up after your dog and you eliminate any opportunity for him to eat poop. If cleaning poop is first on your to-do list, give Arrowhead Scoopers a call today. They’ll more than happy to send out a technician to do the job for you.
Hide the Litter Box: Cat owners should keep the litter box out of sight. Cat poop is a tasty temptation some dogs’ can’t seem to resist.
Supervise Your Dog on Walks: When walking your dog keep an eye on him at all times. When he goes poop, be sure to clean it up right away.
Training: Be consistent when telling your dog to “leave it” in regards to poop. Try to distract your dog with a treat immediately after he uses the bathroom. Instead of eating poop, teach your dog to come to you instead for a tasty snack.
Today we would like to thank http://www.akc.org for helping us with this post. See their website for more tips that will help keep your dog happy and healthy for life.
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