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Why Do Dogs Eat Their Own Poop?

Dogs are beloved pets for many families, but some of their behaviours can be confusing or even concerning. One such behaviour is Coprophagia, or the eating of faeces. You may be asking why on earth would they do it! Well, lets find out…

Why Dogs Eat Poo?

There are several theories as to why dogs eat poop, including:

  • Nutritional deficiencies: If a dog isn’t getting enough nutrients from their regular diet, they might be compelled to eat poop to supplement their diet. This is more common in puppies or dogs with malabsorption issues.
  • Instinctual behaviour: In the wild, animals eat poop to keep their den or living area clean and free of predators. This behaviour may be a remnant of this instinct.
  • Boredom or anxiety: Dogs that are left alone for long periods of time or are under-stimulated may eat poop out of boredom or stress.
  • Attention-seeking behaviour: Some dogs may eat poop to get attention from their owners, especially if they are scolded or punished for it.
  • Health issues or medication side effects: Certain medical conditions or medications can cause dogs to have an increased appetite, which can include eating poop.

Is It Normal?

While it’s not exactly “normal” behaviour for dogs to eat poop, it is relatively common. In fact, according to some estimates, up to 16% of dogs may engage in coprophagia at some point in their lives. It is more common in younger dogs, particularly puppies who are exploring the world through their mouths. However, in most cases, coprophagia is not a sign of a serious health problem.

Is It Safe?

While it might seem gross to us, dogs eating their own poop is usually not harmful to them. However, there are some risks to consider. Dogs that eat poop may be exposing themselves to intestinal parasites or infections. Additionally, if the poop they are eating comes from another animal, it could contain toxins or harmful bacteria. If you suspect that your dog has ingested something dangerous, it’s important to contact your veterinarian right away.

What About Eating Other Animals’ Poop?

Dogs may also eat the poop of other animals, such as cats or other dogs. While this behaviour is not uncommon, it can increase the risk of disease transmission. For example, if a dog eats the poop of another dog that is infected with parasites or a virus, they could become infected as well. It’s important to keep your dog away from other animals’ poop as much as possible.

Preventing Coprophagia

There are several things you can do to help prevent your dog from eating poop:

  • Keep the yard or litter box clean: If your dog is eating their own poop, make sure to clean up after them immediately. Also, keep litter boxes clean and out of reach of dogs.
  • Add supplements to their diet: If you suspect that your dog is eating poop due to a nutritional deficiency, talk to your veterinarian about adding supplements to their diet.
  • Train and positively reinforce good behaviour: Train your dog to come to you for a treat or a toy instead of eating poop. When they exhibit good behaviour, be sure to reward them with treats or praise.
  • Consult with a veterinarian: If you suspect that there may be an underlying medical issue causing your dog to eat poop, consult with your veterinarian. They can perform a physical examination, run tests and provide treatment if necessary.

While it might seem strange or even concerning, coprophagia is a relatively common behaviour in dogs. Fortunately, it is usually not a sign of a serious health problem. However, it’s important to take steps to prevent your dog from eating poop, both for their health and your peace of mind. If you have concerns about your dog’s behaviour, consult with a veterinarian.

What Can Dogs Eat?

See below for detailed answers on specific breeds.

Why Do Dogs Eat Their Own Poop?