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Why Is My Dog Eating Poop?

by | Dec 18, 2019

Welcome to every pet parent’s favorite subject. Not.

The ‘ewww’ factor aside, poop eating (the technical term is coprophagia) is quite common in dogs. So common that the University of California/Davis published a study called The Paradox of Canine Conspecific Coprophagy. Findings from the study showed that dogs who eat poop are greedy eaters, live in multi-dog households and prefer feces that is less than two days old.

There are many reasons why a dog chooses to eat stool (either their own or another animal’s) including instinct, behavior issues, nutritional deficiencies and medical problems.

Instinct

A nursing mother will often eat poop in order to keep the den clean and her pups safe.

Behavior

Some dogs will eat stool because they feel anxious or stressed. Dogs who have been punished for pooping in the house may do so because they are conditioned to believe pooping is bad, so they eat it before their human can find it.

Dietary Deficiencies

Many dogs turn to eating feces because they are suffering from vitamin or mineral deficiencies or a lack of digestive enzymes in their diet. A highly processed, carbohydrate rich diet can also lead to an imbalance of good to bad gut bacteria.

According to Dr. Karen Becker, DVM, since the feces of other animals are a good source of digestive enzymes, dogs with a deficiency will sometimes ingest enzyme-rich poop. Rabbit droppings are a rich source of not only enzymes, but also B vitamins, which is why many dogs, given the opportunity, will happily scarf it up. Dogs may limit themselves to fresh poop  because in addition to digestive enzymes, it also contains high levels of microbes necessary to regenerate beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Dogs that are placed on calorie restricted diets or fed low quality, nutritionally imbalanced diets may also turn to eating poop. 

Medical Problems

Parasites cause a world of problems for dogs, including leeching nutrients from the diet. Dogs will often seek out nutrient filled stool in an attempt to nourish their body. There are also a number of diseases that are associated with dogs eating poop, including  diabetes, Cushing’s disease and thyroid disease. Dogs being treated with steroids may also trigger stool eating.

Deterring the Behavior

  • Offer a nutritionally balanced, high quality, biologically appropriate diet. It should be high in protein, low in carbohydrates and preferably made from fresh food, not kibble.
  • Be sure to keep the yard free of waste – that means cleaning up as soon as your dog (or other pet) goes as well as cleaning up after any roaming animals.
  • Keep the litter box clean by scooping often. Helpful hint – if your dog is constantly trying to eat your cat’s ‘tootsie rolls,’ that can mean the poop is nutrient-rich. This is a sign that your cat is not absorbing all of the nutrients from their food. Time to consider adjusting the cat’s diet, as well.
  • Do not yell at or punish your dog for having an ‘accident’ in the house.
  • Address any anxiety or stress factors in your dog’s life

No matter the cause, it is important for your dog to be examined by a veterinarian. Medical, nutritional and parasitic problems can be addressed and treated.

Why Is My Dog Eating Poop?

by | Dec 18, 2019

Welcome to every pet parent’s favorite subject. Not.

The ‘ewww’ factor aside, poop eating (the technical term is coprophagia) is quite common in dogs. So common that the University of California/Davis published a study called The Paradox of Canine Conspecific Coprophagy. Findings from the study showed that dogs who eat poop are greedy eaters, live in multi-dog households and prefer feces that is less than two days old.

There are many reasons why a dog chooses to eat stool (either their own or another animal’s) including instinct, behavior issues, nutritional deficiencies and medical problems.

Instinct

A nursing mother will often eat poop in order to keep the den clean and her pups safe.

Behavior

Some dogs will eat stool because they feel anxious or stressed. Dogs who have been punished for pooping in the house may do so because they are conditioned to believe pooping is bad, so they eat it before their human can find it.

Dietary Deficiencies

Many dogs turn to eating feces because they are suffering from vitamin or mineral deficiencies or a lack of digestive enzymes in their diet. A highly processed, carbohydrate rich diet can also lead to an imbalance of good to bad gut bacteria.

According to Dr. Karen Becker, DVM, since the feces of other animals are a good source of digestive enzymes, dogs with a deficiency will sometimes ingest enzyme-rich poop. Rabbit droppings are a rich source of not only enzymes, but also B vitamins, which is why many dogs, given the opportunity, will happily scarf it up. Dogs may limit themselves to fresh poop  because in addition to digestive enzymes, it also contains high levels of microbes necessary to regenerate beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Dogs that are placed on calorie restricted diets or fed low quality, nutritionally imbalanced diets may also turn to eating poop. 

Medical Problems

Parasites cause a world of problems for dogs, including leeching nutrients from the diet. Dogs will often seek out nutrient filled stool in an attempt to nourish their body. There are also a number of diseases that are associated with dogs eating poop, including  diabetes, Cushing’s disease and thyroid disease. Dogs being treated with steroids may also trigger stool eating.

Deterring the Behavior

  • Offer a nutritionally balanced, high quality, biologically appropriate diet. It should be high in protein, low in carbohydrates and preferably made from fresh food, not kibble.
  • Be sure to keep the yard free of waste – that means cleaning up as soon as your dog (or other pet) goes as well as cleaning up after any roaming animals.
  • Keep the litter box clean by scooping often. Helpful hint – if your dog is constantly trying to eat your cat’s ‘tootsie rolls,’ that can mean the poop is nutrient-rich. This is a sign that your cat is not absorbing all of the nutrients from their food. Time to consider adjusting the cat’s diet, as well.
  • Do not yell at or punish your dog for having an ‘accident’ in the house.
  • Address any anxiety or stress factors in your dog’s life

No matter the cause, it is important for your dog to be examined by a veterinarian. Medical, nutritional and parasitic problems can be addressed and treated.

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