As gross as it sounds, it happens more than you’d think it does.
Stool-eating, which is also known as coprophagia, commonly happens in rabbits but also dogs. Because besides finding their snacks smelling delicious, they also sometimes find poop of their own or other animals delicious.
But why do they fancy these hotcakes and when should it be a worry?
Sometimes these happen out of habit or as a natural reaction to a situation. Probably nothing to worry about unless it’s becoming a habit.
1. Nursing Mothers
Nursing female dogs tend to want to keep their cages or nest clean. Hence as natural instinct, a mother dog would have this drive for cleanliness and to clean up after her puppies.
2. Puppy See, Puppy Do
Being inherently curious about their surroundings, it’s not unusual for them to want to eat many things, including poop, as part of their adventures. After all, they may have seen an older dog do it and decide to give it a try.
But worry not, most puppies grow out of the poop-eating stage.
3. It Smells Great!
If your dog is eating the poop of your other furkids at home, it may signal that the diet for that pet may not have been digested properly. This may then cause their poop to smell a little more like food.
While it’s not toxic per se, these piles may also be a cozy home for parasites and bacteria that could harm your doggo.
Humans or dogs, our bodies react negatively to stress. It puts us on the edge and causes the production of certain hormones for a fight or flight response. In return, we may experience an increase in appetite or seek some respite from all the stress.
Hence, this poop-eating behavior that’s newly observed in your doggo may have been triggered by a stressful situation or event.
5. Fear of Punishment
Dogs are smart beings that are capable of understanding consequences to certain actions. For example, sitting on command or good behavior earns them treats and pats.
However, if your dog has been punished and told off too many times for the toilet accidents they’ve done, this could be their attempt to “hide the evidence”.
Although stinky, an animal’s excrement actually contains nutrient remnants of the digested meal. Hence your doggo’s motivation to eat their own poop could be due to hunger or the need for more nutrients.
These should be a cause for worry and would be accompanied with other symptoms of physical ailments such as weight loss and appetite changes.
6. Internal Parasites
If your dog is hosting some worms, these squirmy parasites would be consuming part of the nutrients that are meant for him. An easy tell-tale sign would be to look for tiny white specks that resemble white rice in his poop.
7. Deficiencies & Malabsorption
Enzymes, vitamins and minerals are micronutrients that are essential to a living being’s wellness. If your dog is on a kibble diet, chances are he’s mainly consuming carbs with little to none of these micronutrients.
Besides that, age or a poor diet could lead to hydrochloric acid deficiency which impairs their body’s capabilities of breaking down proteins for nutrients during digestion. This then causes them to scavenge for these nutrients from their own poop.
8. Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)
Also known as pancreatic insufficiency, this condition affects the ability of a dog’s pancreas to produce enough digestive enzymes to break down nutrients.
Whether it’s inherited genetically or developed later in life, affected dogs can slowly starve from not being able to digest and obtain sufficient nutrients in their diet.
Symptoms of EPI include weight loss, diarrhea and stool-eating.
Being a no-brainer suspect, it’s highly important to feed your dog enough food at regular times. Overfeeding would lead to overweight issues but underfeeding would starve their bodies of adequate nutrients to function properly.
Flushing The Problem
Truth be told, it’s not comforting to think that your doggo had just taken a chomp out of their poop before coming over and licking you in the face. But there are a few things you could do to keep them away from making their poop a little snack.
Once you’ve determined that it’s not a medical condition, you could:
- Keep things clean: It’s helpful to know their toilet habits so you’ll be able to ensure that their usual pooping location stays clean and fresh for their next toilet session.
- Play with them: Sometimes our naturally curious pets get bored and are thus intrigued but the smell of their or another pet’s poop. Keeping them engaged and entertained (especially when you’re busy) helps keep them out of trouble.
- Make poop taste bad: There are some supplements that can be prescribed by a vet to make their poop not appealing.
- Divert their attention: If you know they’d usually go in for a sneaky nibble of their poop, keep an eye out for the behavior and offer a treat to pull their attention away. While giving the treat, speak encouragingly to reinforce the behavior of not eating poop.
- Feed them a balanced diet: Be it raw or cooked, these natural sources of food contain much higher amounts of nutrients and enzymes than processed foods. By ensuring enough nutrients reaches their bodies, it should curb or minimise their scavenging and poop-eating behavior.
Speaking of a balanced diet, there are multiple factors that determine how and what we feed our doggos.
For convenience, some may opt for kibbles as their labels would claim to have the best sources of proteins with added nutrients. However, it may not always be the case so here’s a guide to understand what your pet’s kibble actually contains.
At Petchef, we believe that real food is always a better alternative to highly processed pet food. If you’d like to DIY fresh homecooked food for your furkids, here’s your shopping list.
But if you’d like to leave all the research, shopping, cooking, cleaning, planning and worrying to us, we’ve got your back! All you’ll have to do is tell us all about your pet and our Petchef Advisors will be able to work out a suitable meal plan for you plus a free meal sample!
Feature Image Credit: Bella & Duke