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Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

Pet Care Tips 4 min read
Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

Our lovely furry companions might have some pretty gross behaviors, but let’s face it, seeing our dogs eat poop is at the top of the list for most of us. So, if our dogs are not doing it just to gross us out, then why do they do it at all?

Stool eating, aka coprophagy, is actually quite normal, especially for puppies.

Stool eating, aka coprophagy, is actually quite a normal behavior, especially for puppies. After all, they may have seen their mother do it. Coprophagy is an ancestral instinct to protect pack members from predators that can smell it and keep the den clean when puppies are too young to venture outside of the den to do the deed. This learned behavior, along with natural puppy curiosity, leads them to smell, taste, and yes, even eat (ugh!) their own or other dogs’ stool.

Are there any other possible reasons that my dog eats poop?

Simply – yes. Here is a brief list of a few reasons that are typical of coprophagy. If you happen to have a poop eater on your hands, don’t lose all hope just yet, there are ways to discourage the habit.

  • Poor digestion – To put it bluntly, if your dog has digestive issues and food is not being digested properly, it may come out in much the same manner as when it went in, and to your pup, it will taste like food.
    • What can I do? Try a higher quality food that is higher in digestible nutrients. If switching food does not help, you should take your pup to the vet for further diagnosis. Also try NHV Yucca to aid with digestion.
  • Stress and boredom – These are pretty self explanatory. Even as humans we eat foods that we shouldn’t when we are stressed out or bored.
    • What can I do? If your pet is left alone for a long time, try leaving toys that they can play with in your absence or maybe even consider getting them another fur friend for company. If stress is the issue, try avoiding any new stressors (and don’t punish them for eating their stool, as this will only add stress). Try NHV Lesstress to improve their disposition – it is great for helping dogs with behavioural problems due to stress, anxiety and agitation.
  • Hunger – If your dog is not getting enough to eat throughout the day, or if they have intestinal parasites that are stealing nutrients, they may feel the need to supplement their diet (not an ideal choice, but…). Some health issues and diseases can also contribute to excessive hunger.
    • What can I do? If you think hunger could be a factor, we recommend speaking to your vet about how often and what quantity to feed your pup. Also ask them for recommendations on how to get the most balanced nutrition! One way to fill nutritional voids is to add NHV Multi Essentials to their routine. This multi vitamin will also help reduce fatigue and increase energy and even aid effective digestion.
  • Attention – This one could be a vicious circle. If you have already responded by getting upset with your pup over their poop snacks, they may just continue to do it for the reaction, because hey, even a negative reaction is still attention. On the other hand, your pup may be afraid to get in trouble again and may try to eat it to hide their accident.
    • What can I do? If you are dealing with a puppy, accidents do happen. Maybe try a gentler approach to house training that could still be effective, but maybe not quite so frightening. If you are dealing with a dog that has only recently started this behavior and you suspect that it is for attention, try to not make a big deal of it. One option is to toss something away from them and you that will turn their attention to it. And then call them to you and reward them when they come. This may help them to not associate the poop with attention.
  • Just because – Some dogs and puppies will eat poop simply because they like to do it (YUCK!).
    • What can I do? You can ensure that stool is picked up quickly so they do not have the opportunity. Avoid going for walks in areas that you know they are likely to find “snacks”. You can also try to train them to know that this is not an acceptable behavior.

It is important to discourage the behavior, although you may not be able to completely eliminate the odd “snack” here or there. Addressing it appropriately and in a timely manner will provide the best possibility for success. However, if your pup continues to eat poop despite all of your efforts, you should consult a vet or even a behaviorist.  Poop eating can make your pup susceptible to pathogens, parasites, and disease-causing bacteria. To help prevent or eliminate parasites, use NHV Inulin-PK with your little stool eater. It not only helps to prevent and eliminate worms and other parasites but also helps to repair the damage that these parasites can cause. Use every 3 months for preventative purposes.

If you have any questions or would like additional advice, contact one of our Pet Experts today!

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Published: April 21, 2017

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