It’s safe to say: One of the grossest habits a dog can have is eating poop. At the same time, you might wonder, “Why does my dog eat poop?”
In fact, this poop-eating habit has a name: coprophagia (kop-ruh-fey-jee-uh). So, let’s dive into this topic a little further. Why do dogs eat their own poop? And how can you put a stop to his less-than-appealing habit?
Why is My Dog Eating Poop?
Alright, so there are various theories as to why dogs eat their own poop or why a dog is eating rabbit poop or any other animal poop for that matter. Let’s lay it all out.
1. It’s Natural at Certain Stage of Life
This might come as a surprise. Yet, for many animals, including rabbits and dogs, eating poop is a way to obtain nutrients and immunity. In fact, experts claim it’s completely normal for a mother dog to eat her puppies’ poop, specifically during the initial few weeks of lactation. This actually helps protect the puppies by keeping their environment clean.
Puppies also tend to have an oral fixation, which may lead them to eat their own poop. While this is actually quite harmless, eating other animals’ poop, such as when your dog resorts to eating rabbit poop, can result in illness due to parasites, toxins, and viruses.
2. It’s a Sign of Illness or Disease
This isn’t to freak you out. More so, it’s for awareness. “Pica” is when animals (and humans) experience a need to eat non-food substances. For dogs, this can happen due to gastrointestinal issues, liver disease, poor diet, pancreatic problems, and more.
Thus, if your dog has all of a sudden started eating poop out of nowhere, it’s probably a good idea to visit your local vet. Get your furry friend checked out for any health issues, even as a just-in-case!
3. Your Dog is Bored or Stressed
When puppies and dogs are left with little to do, they may act out or play with and eat feces. Additionally, if they aren’t getting the attention they need, they might get stressed out or determine that eating poop is an easy way to get attention from their owner.
4. Your Dog Isn’t Getting the Nutrients He/She Needs
This simple theory goes that your dog might not be getting enough of the nutrients he or she needs. As a result, they might seek out these nutrients, enzymes, and more by eating feces. While this is in no way ideal, a quick way to solve this problem is a trip to the vet. Your vet will likely recommend supplements or specific food to make up for this.
How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Poop: Home Remedies & More!
By now, you might have some idea why your dog eats poop. And you might have some idea as to how to stop it. For clarification, here are three effective ways to stop your dog from eating poop, ensuring neither of you has to deal with this gross habit down the road and ensuring your dog stays safe.
1. Teach Your Dog “Leave It” or “Off”
This command can help your dog know when you want them to leave something where it is. A really easy way to train your dog how to do this is by holding a treat out in your hand for your dog. As soon as your dog reaches for it, close your hand and say “leave it” or “off.” If they back off, praise them and give them the treat.
You can also sign up for various puppy training or schooling to get these basic commands down right off the bat.
2. Keep Them Entertained
A busy puppy or dog is one happy animal! When you leave your home, make sure your furry friend has tons of toys to occupy them. At the same time, ensure you’re walking your dog enough to help them blow off some of that energy and get a healthy dose of physical activity.
3. Talk to Your Vet
If you’re concerned about your dog not getting enough nutrients, your vet can make recommendations in terms of supplements or other foods. Your vet can also do specific testing to determine if your furry pal is missing any key nutrients.
Other Tips & Tricks
When it comes to stopping your dog from eating poop, what else can you do? Here are a few other extra tips:
- Keep your dog on a leash when out for walks
- Pick up after your dog
- Adding pumpkin or meat tenderizer to food can help make poop less appealing to your dog
- Don’t punish your dog for eating poop. Instead, try to train them to leave it be and deter it as much as possible.
Your dog isn’t trying to be annoying on purpose. In fact, in most cases, dogs aim to please their owners. Stopping your dog from eating feces all comes down to proper training and awareness of what else could potentially be going on.
Editor’s note: * This article was originally published April 15th, 2015 and has been updated for more tips and higher accuracy!