Coprophagia, more commonly known as poop-eating, is an unpleasant topic to talk about and even think about but it’s more common than you might think. The exact cause of “poop-eating” is not really known however there are a few theories about this topic that you might want to explore should your dog pick up the habit of eating poop.
Illness. Many illnesses may cause or dog to eat poop or increase his desire to do so. Many diseases increase your dog’s appetite which may increase the desire to engage in this behavior of poop eating. It should also be noted that some illnesses will change the smell and consistency of your dog’s poop which might cause your dog to eat his poop.
Stress. Your dog may be using poop-eating as a mechanism of dealing with stress. It sounds bizarre to us as humans but it may be a way to self-soothe for your dog. Also, if your dog associates poop with punishment, he may eat the “evidence” to avoid the consequences you are imposing on him for pooping in inappropriate places.
Nature. Eating poop is considered part of nature. In fact, Mother dogs ingest the poop of their puppies. They lick their puppies to keep their little environment clean. That’s actually a time when many dogs develop this habit of poop eating – when they are puppies.
Hunger. A dog that eats poop might be hungry. If a dog is hungry or eating a diet that is not nutrient dense, he will eat whatever he can to try and get the nutrients he needs and to simply feel satiated or full. On the other hand, a dog that is being a fed a high-quality diet but still exhibiting signs of hunger may be suffering from an undiagnosed illness.
Is poop-eating dangerous?
Poop eating is not just gross. The act of eating feces can be dangerous to you and your dog. If a dog eats his own poop, it’s not dangerous to him but he can transmit bacteria and parasites to you via his mouth and saliva. Exercise caution around your dog if he eats his own poop. Wash your hands and any area of your body that you allow him to lick. Be sure other members of your family do the same. If your dog eats the poop of other dogs, he is at risk of contracting disease from the other dog’s poop.
If your dog is a poop- eater, you might want to keep your yard free of poop by cleaning up after him directly after he poops. Additionally, walking him on the leash is also a good idea especially if you don’t have a fenced yard. Consult your vet and other behavior experts, as always, when any problem behaviors or symptoms of health issues occur. Poop eating is a bad habit but many dogs do grown out of it.