It is so disgusting to find your dog eating poop. This habit of eating feces is called coprophagia and is common among dogs. So far, several theories are explaining the cause of this behavior.
Eating of poop by dogs poses some danger to human beings. Parasites and bacteria from the stool can be transmitted directly to human beings or other animals through getting contact with the dog’s saliva or mouth.
When a dog eats poop, especially of other animals, there are chances of ingesting harmful bacteria or other intestinal parasites that can make her get Ill. Below are the main reasons why a dog eats poop.
Certain diseases, those that affect smell and taste, can cause your dog to eat poop. When the dog’s senses are affected, even its feces will smell different and probably like food. Since the sense of smell and taste are connected to some extent, the dog ends up eating the stool comfortably.
Other illnesses can excessively increase appetite which drives the dog to eat anything that comes across. If the dog is suffering from such a disease, then she can easily eat poop in place of food.
Just like human beings, dogs can suffer from brain diseases like dementia and the rest. This kind of disease is disorienting and confuses the dog to the extent of eating feces and other things.
Food Obsession and Hunger
A dog suffering from malnutrition and severe starvation will eat anything that comes her way. Some well-nourished dogs still eat poop either because of their personality or because they cannot get satisfied with food. Such dogs can eat every second of the day.
When a dog is lacking some vital nutrients in the body, she can eat anything in search of nutrients. Cat poop is a favorite for many dogs since it smells well to them. Veterinarians claim that this is not the main cause of coprophagia but only a major contributor.
Restrictive Confinement and Isolation
Confining your dog in a small space for a long period can result in such a habit. The dog has minimized movement with the poop very close to it. Within a short time, the poop may start smelling good for the dog.
According to studies, dogs isolated in their kennel are more likely to develop that habit. Interaction with people prevents the habit in the sense that the dog will be busy and on the watch from people. It is difficult to try new habits in front of people.
Stress and Anxiety
An anxious dog or one undergoing some stress can eat feces as a self-soothing mechanism. Stress results from fear of the unknown like moving to a new home or from any other cause.
Dogs are creatures of habit and routine, once a dog is punished for inappropriate defecation, she immediately associated the punishment with the feces. To remove the evidence next time she defects again is through eating it.
Mother dogs lick their puppies clean including ingesting their poop. This activity aims at keeping the environment and the young ones clean. As the puppies grow, the mother dog stops the behavior slowly but unfortunately for some, the behavior continues to the extent of eating her stool.
For puppies, eating poop is a natural behavior that is expected to fade away as the dog grows. Eating feces of other animals like cats is also a natural behavior. Cats take meals with high protein content which makes the poop interesting for the dogs.
How to Stop My Dog From Eating Poop
Before deciding on how best to stop your dog, determine whether this is a medical case or natural behavior. For medical cases, the veterinarian will handle that professionally. If you ascertain that it is purely a natural behavior, then you have to shape it in the following ways.
Some smells are disgusting to dogs the same way stool smells to us. Considering this theory, you can add a poop eating deterrent to treats or food. The poop produced afterward will be less appealing. These products contain camomile, garlic, monosodium glutamate, and pepper-plant derivatives.
Keep the Dog’s Room Clean
Environmental management and training is probably the best way to help your dog. Constant cleaning of the dog’s living area, including the yard, will leave the dog with no poop to eat. If you have a cat at home, keep the litter box away from the dog.
You can also train your dog on the “come” or “leave it” commands. This will help you easily stop her whenever she is eating feces. Use treats to reinforce the habit of coming to you and in the process eliminate the disgusting habit.