It is hard to wrap one’s mind around what is driving a perfectly healthy and adequately nourished dog to eat poop. However, this behavior is more common than you might think. Coprophagia is the term that defines this act of eating feces, whether it’s one’s own or others. This habit is not only utterly disturbing, disgusting but also seriously harmful to a dog’s health. But before diving into how to stop them from eating poop, let’s figure out why they do it in the first place.
Why Do Dogs Prefer Eating Poop?
To acknowledge a single reason is yet not possible since not enough evidence or proper studies give a solid answer to it. However, numerous theories have been put forward in an attempt to explain why dogs eat poop.
Isolation And Attention Seeking
It will not be wide of the mark to say that most dogs are social beings and naturally curious. Leaving your dog unsupervised for long or not being attentive to their needs like playtime, park walks, or simply spending time with them may leave them in depths of boredom and isolation. It is why most dogs go out looking for things to do, explore reachable grounds, play with and eat feces when they find any.
Moreover, since eating poop gets them to hold your attention quickly, they positively reinforce the behavior so that you’d notice them and maybe play a little.
It Is All Nature
Did you know that most mother dogs eat their puppies’ feces after birth during the first three weeks of lactation? They do so to protect the puppies and keep their surroundings clean.
The condition of slippers and other chewable stuff around the house might outright tell you how orally fixated dogs are. It drives them into eating their poop or of other creatures’ whenever found. While it may be relatively harmless to consume their poop, it is not the case with that of other animals’ since poop contaminated with intestinal parasites, toxins, or viruses may severely impact their health.
An Underlying Condition Or Disease
There’s a condition known as Pica that particularly drives a dog to eat inedible and non-food items such as hair, stones, feces, dry walls, dirt, etc. Though it may or may not be the case for your dog, sometimes eating stool is also a symptom of an underlying illness, and therefore to get your dog at the vet’s for a checkup is the best you could do.
If your dog is inadequately nourished or does not get the requisite dose of nutrition his body craves, chances are he’d consume feces to fulfill this deficiency. Again, getting him to a vet or changing his diet is something you must try.
Ways To Stop Dogs From Eating Poop
Whether or not you were able to figure out the reason for your dog’s poop-eating habit, curbing it must be your top priority. Multiple risks that come with this habit include transmitting parasitic diseases, coprophagia, bad breath, etc. Below are a couple of ways that, if not stop, will help you restrict this habit for the most part.
Provide Good Nutrition And Tasty Food
A good diet will not only fulfill any nutritional deficiency your dog might have but also help him feel full for longer, curbing his cravings and habit of eating anything and everything he finds on his way. Moreover, tasty treats will let him differentiate between what actually tastes good and what doesn’t.
It is a no-brainer to clean up your dog’s poop as soon as he’s done the deed and throw it in the litter box out of his reach. However, to be on the lookout for other animals’ feces in his immediate surroundings or in the backyard, where he is usually free to roam about and explore, is as essential and effective.
Keeping your dog on a leash through walls or times you cannot follow him around to keep a watch is a must if your dogs have a habit of hunting the ground for things to put in his mouth, from stones to grass and feces.
Let Him Know It’s Bad
Dog owners know that teaching a dog the ‘leave it’ command is not only practical to curb this particular habit but comes in handy on several other occasions. A light punishment, such as saying the word ‘no’ whenever he does eat poop or treating his taste buds with treat buds whenever he listens and leaves it, is an excellent way to instill good habits. Alternatively, since the internet is not short on tutorials on the ‘leave it’ command, you might as well try looking them up.
Additions To Diet
Your dog will simply stop eating the poop if he doesn’t like its taste in the first place. Adding food deterrents such as canned pumpkin, pineapple, or meat tenderizer to your dog’s diet will prevent them from eating poop. These food deterrents might taste just fine when eating messes the flavor with acidity for your dog, making the feces taste terrible to dogs.
Talk To The Vet
Reaching out to your dog’s regular vet to learn about any possible deficiency of nutrition or digestive enzymes your dog might have, and its solution is a must. Moreover, it also helps you acknowledge any underlying medical problem early and start its treatment as soon as possible.
To restrain your dog from eating poop is not a day’s job. It takes constant effort, gentle and consistent guidance, and a proper understanding of why your dog does it. If your four-legged friend is trying to tell you something, listen to him, provide him with an adequate and fulfilling diet with attempts to make him understand what’s good and what’s not.