Have you ever seen your dog eating excrement and thought, "Ugh, it's the same dog who occasionally licks my face? This might be really annoying. Nothing disgusts most dog owners more than wondering why dogs eat excrement among all the disgusting behaviours our dogs engage in, such as drinking from the toilet, rolling in swamp mud, and licking their bottoms. Although it may not be their intention, it definitely make us feel cringe-worthy. So much so that faeces eating is frequently a justification for trying to rehome a dog or even choosing euthanasia. Here is all the information you require about why dogs consume faeces and what you can or ought to do to stop it.
WHY DO DOGS EAT POOP?
You would not exactly think of coprophagia, or dog poop eating, as the ideal pastime for your furry friend. For a variety of reasons, dogs eat faeces. Some are symptoms of an underlying problem, like as age, genetics, nutritional insufficiency, and more, while others are typical, such as when a nursing dog cleans up her litter's waste on her own. Young dogs eating the poop of another species is natural and rather frequent, but adult dogs rarely eat their own or another dog's faeces.
Smart, my German Shephard dog (male) has been a decent dog since pup with good hygiene and neatness to the extent that if Smart feeding bowl is not clean enough, he won’t eat his meal with the notion that the bowl is unclean. Smart also gives cues via body language that he has to poop or urinate and not just anywhere but a designated place I have selected. He has been a perfect dog, I must say but somewhat last year, I changed Smart pet food to a more economical diet just to cut the budget on his feeding then maybe coupled with my neighbour bringing in a rescued dog to the compound. In few days, my Smart started mingling with my neighbour’s adorable Rottweiler female dog, this dog actively ate her poop in few days of arrival. I was disturbed from such actions. But still, I know it wasn’t a problem for me, not until after two weeks. I noticed smart from a far sniffing his poop what I’ve never seen him do before, I quickly called out his name and saved him from the new appetite then my vet recommended that I improve his diet and provide a more nutrient-valued meal which could help take the urge away and also keep a watch on the new dog activity.
WHY DO DOGS EAT POOP?
Here are some reasons why your dog might eat poop;
The majority of nursing dams do not like their puppies to spend too much time in close proximity to their surroundings, thus they eat the faeces of their young in order to maintain a clean kennel or habitat.
It is a genetic component of dogs. Dogs are omnivores who scavenge, forage, and adore carrion scents and tastes, including foul, revolting odours and objects to play with and consume. For amusement or because it piques their attention, dogs frequently consume foods that have no nutritional value. Coprophagia may be a trait passed down from wolves, the progenitors of dogs.
Poop eating is a natural behaviour for dogs during specific phases of development. For instance, mother dogs may lick their puppies to encourage them to go potty. For the first three weeks after birth, they also clean up after their puppies by eating their waste. By consuming both their own and that of other canines, puppies naturally imitate this behaviour.
It has also been demonstrated that malnutrition, which may result from dietary factors or problems absorbing nutrients due to a comorbid medical condition, encourages dogs to continue eating their faeces. Depending on which nutrients are deficient, there are different symptoms, however the following are the most typical ones:
- Dull or brittle coat
- Dry, peeling or flaking skin
- Underweight or obesity
- Skin concerns such as itching, irritation, and blisters
- Frequent infections
Hunger stimulated by certain health conditions or drugs
Thyroid disease, diabetes, and Cushing's disease are among the disorders that might boost a dog's appetite and cause it to eat its faeces. As a side effect, drugs such as steroids, benzodiazepines, and certain antihistamines can cause increased hunger.
Stress and other behavioural triggers
Some experts feel that persistent stress, worry, and boredom may be the cause of coprophagia in dogs, despite the lack of empirical evidence. Isolated or confined dogs are more likely to consume faeces. Anxiety brought on by rigorous training methods or punishment might also promote the behaviour.
CAN EATING POOP AFFECT YOUR DOG?
In terms of possible risks, eating faeces can expose your dog to parasites in addition to the obvious "gross" element. The typical parasites include:
It is important to take your dog to the vet if they exhibit any symptoms of illness, such as diarrhoea, vomiting, or lethargy.
How to break the habit
The good news is that your puppy will probably quit eating poop by the time they are about 9 months old. The following advice may help you break the habit if your puppy or adult dog keeps doing it:
- Potty train your dog by having them urinate and defecate on cue: Potty training makes this easier if your dog defecates on demand.
- Balance your dog's diet: Veterinarians can advise you on your dog's appropriate diet. If you feed your dog the prescribed amount of commercial dog food, they should get these nutrients.
- Clean up your dog's waste: Coprophagia is opportunistic. If they can't find faeces to eat, they may stop.
- Dog training: Dog training should be used for all other operations. Say "Leave It" or use a firm recall while praising your dog with treats.
- Don't let your dog run loose where there's dog faeces.
As for some dogs eating their poop is based on cleaning up their litters mess, genetics, age, nutritional deficiencies and so on, these poops could contain parasitic eggs which is not healthy for your dogs. The most effective way to get your dog to stop eating poop is management. However, there are many other methods and factors to consider that may help with dog poop eating, such as dog training, behaviour modification, enrichment, close monitoring, and nutrition.