Causes and tips to break the habit

  • Dogs, especially puppies, typically eat poop – this habit often simply reflects the dog’s natural instincts.
  • Dogs may be more likely to eat poop when stressed or not getting enough nutrients.
  • Working out, using a leash, and providing enough exercise and play time can help prevent poop consumption.
  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference Library for more tips.

Turns out the biggest problem with a dog eating poop is the ick factor for their humans.

Dogs, especially puppies, eat a lot of things that they shouldn’t eat, and that often includes feces – their own and that of other dogs and even other animals.

As disgusting as it sounds, dogs that eat poop are quite common.

Why are they doing this?

“The science is not entirely clear as to why dogs or puppies eat feces, which is known as coprophagia,” says Gary Richter, DVM, veterinary health expert at Rover and owner. and medical director of the Montclair veterinary hospital.

“Assuming the dog is eating an appropriately balanced diet – that is, essentially any commercially available brand – nutritional deficiencies leading to coprophagia are very unlikely. In truth, eating feces is almost exclusively a behavioral problem rather than a physical one, ”says Richter.

Russell Hartstein, Los Angeles Certified Behaviorist and Dog Trainer and Founder of Fun Paw Care, agrees, adding that while there is no conclusive evidence that points to a single reason dogs eat poop, it’s totally natural.

With that said, here are a few reasons why your dog could be able Eat poop.

1. Genetics

“It’s part of a dog’s genetics. Dogs are omnivores that swim, forage, and love carrion smells / tastes like foul and pungent smells and things to play and eat with. Dogs eat a lot of things. no nutritional value for fun or because it seems interesting to them, ”says Hartstein.

According to a 2018 study, coprophagia could be a tendency inherited from the ancestors of dogs, wolves.

Wolves defecated outside their dens because their droppings contained parasite eggs. If a wolf was too sick or injured to go and do its business elsewhere, it would eat the poo in order to protect the pack.

The researchers pointed out that because the parasite eggs can become infectious after a few days. It may also explain why dogs typically eat poop that is no longer than a day or two old.

2. Age

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), eating poop is a natural behavior at certain stages of a dog’s life.

For example, female dogs lick their puppies to entice them to do their business. They also clean up after their puppies by eating their feces for the first three weeks after birth.

Puppies naturally mimic this behavior by eating their own poop and that of other dogs.

3. Nutritional deficiencies

As Richter once pointed out, nutritional deficiencies are unlikely if your dog is eating a balanced diet.

That said, it’s still important for dog owners to watch for signs of a nutritional deficiency, which could be from diet issues or malabsorption caused by an underlying medical condition.

Signs of a nutrient deficiency depend on what nutrients are lacking, but most often include:

  • Dull or brittle coat
  • Dry skin, peeling or peeling
  • Being under or overweight
  • Skin problems, such as itching, inflammation, and sores
  • Frequent infections

4. Certain medical conditions or medications

Thyroid disease,


, and Cushing’s disease are conditions that can increase hunger in dogs and cause them to eat their feces.

Medications, such as steroids, benzodiazepines, and some antihistamines can also cause increased hunger as a side effect.

5. Stress and other behavioral triggers

Although this has not been scientifically proven, some experts believe that coprophagia in dogs can be triggered by chronic stress, anxiety, and boredom.

Isolated dogs or those who spend too much time in a crate or other confined space are more likely to eat poop.

Anxiety caused by training methods or harsh punishments can also trigger the behavior, according to the AKC.

Can it make them sick?

“In terms of risk, in addition to the obvious ‘gross’ factor, consuming feces can transmit parasites to your dog,” says Richter.

Common parasites that a dog can contract from eating the poo of other dogs or animals include:

  • Hookworms
  • Round worms
  • Giardia
  • Whipworms
  • coccidia

If your dog is showing signs of illness, such as diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy, a visit to the vet is needed.

How to break the habit

If your puppy shears poo, the good news is that he’ll likely stop doing it around 9 months old.

If your puppy continues to do this, or if you have an adult dog that does, the following tips can help break the habit:

  • Potty training your dog. “Teach your dog to defecate and urinate at the right time. This is one of the goals of toilet training, and if your dog is pooping at the right time, it makes your job a lot easier,” explains Hartstein.
  • Make sure your dog is eating a balanced diet. Your veterinarian can advise you on the best diet for your dog’s nutritional needs. But generally, if you give your dog the correct serving size of a brand name dog food, they should already be receiving the necessary nutrients.
  • Be careful about cleaning up after your dog. “Coprophagia is a crime of expediency,” says Richter. If there is no poo for them to eat, it can break the habit.
  • Always keep your dog on a leash. “A dog on a leash is much less likely to eat feces,” says Hartstein. Having your dog on a leash on walks or on a leash in the yard helps you control where he goes and what he engages in.
  • Have your dog wear a head harness. Harststein recommends a head harness because you have more control and can keep your dog’s head away from droppings or whatever else you don’t want them to nibble on the floor.
  • Train your dog. “Dog training can and should be used in conjunction with all other protocols. For example, teach your dog to leave him, or use a powerful booster and strongly reward him with his favorite dog treats when he listens to you. Remember, dog treats have to be MORE rewarding than eating poo. It shouldn’t be a difficult hurdle to overcome, ”says Hartstein.
  • Watch your dog. “Don’t let your dog roam off leash in the garden or anywhere there is dog poop,” says Hartstein.
  • Give your dog regular exercise and enrichment. Regular exercise and fortification can help a dog burn for energy and fight boredom that can lead to poop eating and other unpleasant behaviors. Keep the walks interesting with different routes, play fetch and try enrichment games and puzzles.

Insider’s takeaway

There’s no specific reason dogs eat poop, but most of the time it’s normal and not a problem, at least not for the dog.

The most effective way to get your dog to stop eating poo is through management. However, there are many other methods and factors to consider that can help with eating dog poop, such as dog poop education. dog, behavior modification, enrichment, exercise and nutrition, “says Hartstein

About Keith Johnson

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