A poop-eating dog is quite normal unless it is not. Sometimes it could be a sign of an underlying issue that would need further treatment. And if you are curious to know more about this issue, we have got most of the points covered.
Does Your Dog Eat Poop or Have Coprophagia?
Coprophagia in dogs is a common scenario, but it usually gets phased out when they are puppies. It is a scientific term used to describe the act of eating feces.
Coprophagia is mostly assumed to be a psychological or behavioral issue. However, it may sometimes be triggered by medical conditions and could be a symptom of something serious.
It is believed that canines view dung as a delicacy. Scientific research claims that it is in their DNA to enjoy them. They can detect the undigested proteins, fats, and nutrients in them and get attracted to them.
Not only do they find their poop appealing, but they also consume the manure of other dogs, cats, horses, geese, and animals in general. While eating their own may be harmless, the parasites and toxins in other animals’ feces may cause health problems.
Reasons for Dogs Eating Feces
As mentioned earlier, dogs may do this because of a behavioral issue or due to inherent health problems. Some common causes are:
Confinement or Isolation
When dogs remain isolated from everybody else in kennels and shelters, it negatively impacts their psychological health. Studies show that dogs from rescue shelters tend to exhibit this behavior more than others. Dogs who have been previously starved also prefer eating poo when they get hungry.
Eating stools may be a sign of displacement behavior developed due to anxiety. This can happen due to past trauma, general anxiety, fear of isolation or confinement, separation anxiety, etc.
Fear of punishment may also drive them towards this behavior. Since some dog owners give out harsh punishments, dogs may associate defecating with something punishable. So, they try to hide the evidence by gobbling it up, which then creates a vicious cycle.
Dogs are attention-seekers and love basking in the interest of their owners. So, they enjoy doing different things, including eating up their crap, to get a reaction out of their owners. They do not mind what kind of attention it is.
So, if you see them doing this, do not react since it is always good to ignore bad behavior.
Wrong Associations with Food
If your dogs are fed near where they or the rest of the pets in the house defecate, they can get confused about the odors and will make an inappropriate connection between the two. Moreover, poos can contain traces of undigested nutrients which can make matters even more difficult for them.
Nursing/Adopted Behavior from Parents
After puppies are born, it is pretty normal for the mother to eat their babies’ turds to nurse them. The puppy may adopt this behavior as they grow up and by smelling the poop in their mother’s breath.
Protecting the Pack
If a dog lives with another weak or old canine, they like to protect them by eating their waste. It is because of the instinct to hide their scent and mask themselves from predators.
If your dog has suddenly taken up this behavior, you should make a veterinary appointment. It could be a symptom of an intestinal tract or problems with the liver, brain, kidney, or other parts of the body.
Look for symptoms like lethargy, weight loss, change or loss of appetite, vomiting, discomfort. Any behavioral change should also be noted. If such symptoms persist, you should make your visit to the vet a top priority.
How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Poop?
As mentioned earlier, taking your dog to the veterinarian is a good idea if your well-trained dog starts acting out suddenly. The vet would perform many diagnostic tests to rule out anything serious, and it could also help you put your mind at ease.
But if you think it is just behavioral, then here are some things you can do:
It may seem impossible at the moment not to rebuke your dog for doing something so disgusting, but it is best not to overreact. Distract them by putting something else in their mouth, like toys.
Training and Rewards
Make sure to be strict when you teach them to recall or ‘leave it’ commands but not too much that it makes them anxious. Give ample praises and appreciation when they listen to you, followed by treats, pats, and attention. Being too harsh can make them act out even further.
If they fail to adhere to commands, keep them on a leash when you take your walks.
Change the Environment
Keep the feeding area far away from the toilets, so they do not confuse the smell. This includes cat litter boxes as well. Clean the cat poop litter regularly and make the area off-limits for your curious little canines.
When they defecate, remove their stools right away and make sure to strengthen your hold on to the leash.
Feeding them regularly and on a schedule can also help treat this issue. If the problem persists, you can try adding something to their diet that would make their wastes smell unpleasant and steer them away.
What to Do After Your Dog Has Eaten Their Poop?
Well, unless you want them to lick you and get the awful smell all over you, give them enough food and water to wash it all away. Clean their teeth using their brush and wipe their face with a damp cloth.
Remember to be calm and give lots of praise to reduce the stress. It may do both you and your dog good.