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16 Reasons Why do dogs eat poop and Easy Remedy

This post include on query 16 Reasons Why do dogs eat poop and Easy Remedy that can help your dog to get rid of this habbit with top 6 easy ways to get rid of it by thevetscare.com

Why do dogs eat poop?

Why do dogs eat poop by thevetscare.jpg
Why do dogs eat poop by thevetscare.jpg

We have two dogs, and Lola, our youngest who is almost two years old, loves to eat poop. Now that she is eating poop, our other dog Bo, who is three years old, has copied her in this bad habit. Why do dogs eat poop, and how can we discourage them from eating it?

Thank you,
JoAnn Morris

Dr. Sherry’s Answer:

Dear JoAnn,

Eating feces is normal with many different animal species. In dogs, it is not part of the digestive process, but it is a normal cleaning behavior in mother dogs with pups. Some dogs eat stool even without puppies in a misguided attempt to clean either the yard or their kennel. This can easily turn into a habit.

Malnourishment

Malnourished dogs who lack nutrients in their diet or are unable to digest the nutrients in their food may resort to eating partially digested food in poop in order to meet their nutritional needs. Consult your vet about the best diet for your dog, and also to rule out any existing medical problem associated with coprophagia, the scientific name for the act of dogs eating their own or other animals’ feces.

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Breaking the Habit

After addressing dietetic needs, and ruling our medical conditions, you’ll have to break the habit. There are two approaches to stopping the behavior. The most common approach is to use either Adolph’s meat tenderizer or a product called “For-bid”. These products are supposed to give the stool a bitter flavor when eaten. In my experience, these products are only successful some of the time. Another approach that may work better is to find the stool in the yard and cover it with a hot sauce, such as Habanero sauce, that will be uncomfortable to eat but cause no real damage. After a bite or two, most dogs will decide it isn’t worth it.

Good luck,
-Dr. Weaver

You might be interested in : Dog Care Center

Some Facts About Why do dogs eat poop

When it occurs in puppies, coprophagia is generally considered part of the process of exploring the world around them. Most will be satisfied with a sniff, but a few will want, like human children, to put everything in their mouths. One bizarre fact: Dogs will rarely eat soft, poorly formed stools or diarrhea. They appear to be attracted most to hard stools. Frozen ones, in particular, are gulped down with relish. There is a reason why dog owners have coined the term, “poopsicle.” In his study, Hart made some other observations about why dogs eat poop:

  • Coprophagia was more common in multi-dog households. In single-dog homes, only 20 percent of dogs had the habit, while in homes with three dogs, that rose to 33 percent.
  • Poop eaters are no harder to house train than any other dogs.
  • Females are more likely to eat poop, and intact males were least likely.
  • 92 percent of poop eaters want fresh stuff, only one to two days old.
  • 85 percent of poop eaters will not eat their own feces, only that of other dogs.
  • Greedy eaters — dogs who steal food off tables — tend to poop eaters.

Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

If your adult dog starts to dine on dung, you should consult with your vet to rule out such health problems as:

  • Parasites
  • Diets deficient in nutrients and calories
  • Malabsorption syndromes
  • Diabetes, Cushing’s, thyroid disease, and other conditions that might cause an increase in appetite
  • Drugs, such as steroids

In many cases, dogs start to eat their own poop because of some kind of environmental stress or behavioral triggers, including:

  • Isolation: Studies have shown that dogs who are kept alone in kennels or basements are more likely to eat poop than those dogs who live close to their people.
  • Restrictive confinement: Spending too much time confined in a small space can cause the problem. It’s not unusual to see coprophagia in dogs rescued from crowded shelters.
  • Anxiety: often a result of a person using punishment or harsh methods during house training. According to this theory, dogs may eliminate and then eat their own poop to get rid of the evidence, but then they are punished more. It becomes a vicious cycle.
  • Attention-seeking: Dogs eat their own poop to get a reaction from their humans, which they inevitably will. So if you see your dog doing this, don’t overreact.
  • Inappropriate association with real food: Dogs who are fed in proximity to their feces may make a connection between the odors of food and those of poop and will be unable to tell the difference.
  • Scenting it on their mothers: Lindsay writes that in some cases, puppies will get confused by sniffing fecal odors on their mother’s breath after she has cleaned them. Also, sometimes mothers may regurgitate food that is mixed with puppy fecal matter. He calls this an “appetitive inoculation,” which may set a puppy up to develop this bad habit.
  • Living with a sick or elderly dog: Sometimes a healthy dog will consume stools from a weaker canine member of the household, especially in cases of fecal incontinence. Scientists hypothesize that this may be related to the instinct to protect the pack from predators.

How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Poop

Veterinarians and dog owners have seen improvements with a handful of strategies, including:

  • Vitamin supplementation: There’s been a long-standing theory that dogs eat feces because they are missing something in their diets. Vitamin-B deficiency, in particular, has been a prime suspect, and studies have backed this up. In 1981, scientists showed fecal microbial activity synthesized thiamine, a B-vitamin. Other research found other missing nutrients.
  • Enzyme supplementation: The modern canine diet is higher in carbohydrates and lower in meat-based proteins and fats than the canine ancestral diet. Some people have had success with a meat tenderizer that contains papain, an enzyme.
  • Taste-aversion products: The theory is that certain tastes and smells are as disgusting to dogs as the idea of stool eating is to us and that spraying certain substances on poop will make it less appealing. Many of these products contain monosodium glutamate, camomile, pepper-plant derivatives, yucca, garlic, and parsley.

Perhaps the best way to stop the problem is through training and environmental management methods, including:

  • Keep the dog’s living area clean, including the yard, so there will be no poops for him to pick up.
  • Cat owners should keep that litter box clean or out of the dog’s reach.
  • Supervise your dog on walks, and pick up after him immediately.
  • Training. Work hard on the commands “leave it” and “come.” One simple exercise, suggested by Debra Horwitz, DVM, Diplomate ACVB, and Gary Landsberg, DVM, Diplomate ACVB, is to teach your dog to come to you for a food treat as soon as he has eliminated. That way, the dog will develop a habit to run to you for a tasty tidbit, instead of reaching for the revolting recyclable on the ground.

Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

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Medical Reasons

First, let’s begin with possible medical reasons that may cause your dog to eat poop.

1. Enzyme deficiency

Before domestication, a wild dog’s diet would be dependant on whole prey and local vegetation. When a dog eats whole prey it includes the digestive tract … which naturally provides the appropriate amount of digestive enzymes needed.

Unfortunately many dogs today are fed highly processed diets.

Digestive enzymes help ensure your dog is able to properly absorb his nutrition. If he doesn’t have the enzymes needed … food will pass through undigested.

Dogs can create enzymes on their own but they aren’t always enough. This is why you need to make sure they’re part of his daily diet.

And by ensuring he is getting the proper nutrition you’ll help keep diseases away.

2. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI)

EPI is a genetic condition that some young dogs struggle with … but they can develop symptoms later in life too. It’s also known as pancreatic insufficiency.

Dogs with EPI aren’t able to create many if any digestive enzymes in the pancreas. If your dog has EPI they’ll need to be supplemented with enzymes as they can slowly starve from not being able to digest nutrients.

Symptoms of EPI include:

3. Parasites

Intestinal parasites need food too. If your dog has a worm burden he has to compete for nutrients with the parasites. This leaves him getting less nutrition as the parasites mature.

4. Conditions causing increased appetite

Certain diseases like diabetes and thyroid issues can make your dog feel hungry … even if he’s not actually hungry.

Steroids can also make your dog ravenous enough to eat stool. And let’s be honest … many dogs don’t need much of a push.

5. Other deficiencies

It’s possible that your dog may have a hydrochloric acid deficiency. Roger DeHann, DVM cautions that this can be a result of a poor diet or aging.

Hydrochloric acid is used by the body to break down proteins. If your dog doesn’t have enough he won’t be able to digest food and it’ll just pass through. He’ll then seek out poop for missing nutrients.

You may also see poop eating behavior if they have a mineral deficiency according to Joseph Demers, DVM.

6. Malabsorption

Any condition that leads to poor nutrient absorption can, in turn, lead to stool eating. He may resort to eating his own in attempts to get undigested nutrients back. Or he may find your cat’s stool even more delightful.

Why do dogs eat poop by thevetscare.jpg
Why do dogs eat poop by thevetscare.jpg

It’s important to consider whose stool he is seeking, because it may also be an indicator of a deficiency or illness in that pet.

7. Underfeeding

Make sure you’re feeding your dog enough food at regular times. If your dog is losing weight on a fresh, whole diet, then feed him more!

And keep to a schedule, a hungry dog will look for other food sources you may not like. 

Behavioral Reasons

Now that we’ve covered some of the possible health reasons your dog may eat poop … let’s move onto possible behavioral reasons.

8. Cleanliness

There’s one key time that a dog will eat stool and it’s very much in the natural order of things. This is when a female dog cleans up after her puppies to keep the nest clean. This drive for cleanliness could also account for other dogs that “clean up” stool.

9. Puppies

Puppies are curious and exploring their surroundings is an important part of their development. It’s not unusual for them to eat many things, including poop as part of their adventures.

The good news is that most puppies grow out of the poop eating stage.

10. Scavengers

Dogs are natural scavengers and smells are a big part of that. Poop stinks to us … but to our dogs it’s amazing.

11. Boredom

If your dog is home alone all day with not much to do, he’ll find something. If there happens to be some poop within his reach … he may just find a new way to entertain himself and get a little treat in the process.

12. Attention seeking

Our dogs love us and want our attention. It might seem odd, but for some dogs getting in trouble is still a good thing. They get your attention and the added fun of poop hunting all at once.

13. Stress

Dogs who are stressed can sometimes eat things they shouldn’t … and some may relieve stress by eating poop.

14. Puppy mills

It’s a sad truth but puppy mill dogs are more likely to develop this habit. They grow up in stressful environments and often have poor nutritional starts.

15. Punishment

Punishment for having accidents in the house might leave your dog worried that poop is a bad thing. Dr Becker, cautions owners to not make a big deal of accidents as some dogs may “hide the evidence” later.

16. Doggie see, doggie eat doo-doo

If you have a younger dog they can pick this habit up from an older dog. Sometimes they learn this from their Mothers who do this as a natural housekeeping skill.

How To Stop Your Dog From Eating Poop

By now you’ve ruled out or in, all the reasons why your dog may be eating poop. Now it’s time to review what you can do to kick this gross habit at home.

1. Be Clean

Keep things clean and simple. By supervising your dog out on walks or in the yard, you can clean up poop when it happens. And if you have cats at home you’ll want to keep the litter box clean often too.

2. The Power Of Play

Keep your dog’s brain healthy and active. Develop a play routine that provides exercise and mental stimulation. This is really important if you have a working breed. You may even want to sign up for agility or fly-ball class for added learning. Choosing safe toys that provide entertainment is also a great idea for times when you can’t play together.

3. Feed The Best Diet You Can

Make sure he’s eating a raw, whole, varied diet of quality proteins. Raw food has those digestive enzymes your dog needs to help him process his meals. If you’re feeding cooked food only, you’ll definitely want to add digestive enzymes. Raw, green tripe is particularly high in digestive enzymes, as well as probiotics.

Learn more about raw green tripe, here.

4. Add Supplements When Needed

For a trace mineral deficiency, you can add some kelp, according to Dr Demers. And for a hydrochloric acid deficiency, try some apple cider vinegar (1 tsp per 25 pounds in food), which may help mimic the missing acid and help the body compensate for the deficiency, according to Dr DeHaan.

Learn more about the health benefits of sea vegetables like kelp, here.

5. Screen For Parasites

Any time you find your dog is struggling to absorb nutrients you want to check for parasites. This is a quick and easy test that your holistic vet can run for you.

6. Don’ t Make Poop A Big Deal

Avoid punishment! According to a pet owner survey at Davis … punishment isn’t effective. The study also found food additives used to stop poop eating are only effective up to 2 percent of the time.

Positive reinforcement training wasn’t very effective either.

Keep on top your dog’s digestion always. Remember, your dog may be attracted to another dog’s or cat’s stool, not only because he is deficient in something … but because he’s not absorbing food well.

In short poop eating isn’t simple … but with some detective work and easy changes at home you can have fresher kisses down the road. Just be patient and be consistent.

Sources: Applied Dog Behavior and Training, by Steven R. Lindsay; “Coprophagia in Dogs — Behavior,” VCA Animal Hospitals fact sheet; “Coprophagia: The Scoop on Poop Eating in Dogs,” Dr. Sophia Yin fact sheeT