If you’ve ever seen a dog eat their own poo, you may have wondered why they do it. While it may seem like an unpleasant behaviour, eating faeces is actually quite common in dogs and can often be a sign of underlying health issues which could be serious so knowing the signs can be helpful for pet owners or even local professional dog breeders. In this article, we’ll take a look at the reasons why dogs eat their own poo and discuss ways to prevent or stop the behaviour.
Why Dogs Eat Their Own Poo
One of the most common reasons why dogs eat their own poo is because they don’t have access to enough food. If your pet isn’t getting enough nutrition from their regular diet, they may start scavenging for scraps in order to meet their nutritional needs. This could include eating things like dirt, grass, or even faeces.
Another possibility is that your pet has some sort of digestive problem that causes them to feel hungry even after they’ve eaten. When this happens, they might try to fill their stomach by consuming whatever is available. This can also be seen in animals who are suffering from malnourishment or malnutrition due to an inadequate diet.
Some scientists believe that this behaviour evolved as a way for animals to receive additional nutrients from the bacteria and other organisms found in faeces. In fact, some species of wild canines are known to consume the droppings of herbivores such as deer and bison in order to supplement their diets with vitamins and minerals.
In addition to these physiological explanations, there may also be psychological factors at play when it comes to canine coprophagia. Dogs who lack mental stimulation or who live in environments where there isn’t much else for them to do might start eating their own poop out of boredom. Similarly, puppies who haven’t yet learned proper hygiene habits can sometimes develop this behaviour if it goes unchecked by their owners. For puppies, they often grow out of this phase, but if you notice it past around 4 or 5 months of age then action should be taken.
How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Their Own Poo
Regardless of why your dog is engaging in this behaviour, it’s important that you step in and take steps to prevent any future incidents from occurring. Eating poop can be harmful to a dog’s health and can also spread bacteria or parasites to other animals. Here are some steps you can take to stop your dog from eating their own poo:
1. Remove the Poop Immediately
The first step in preventing your dog from eating their own poo is to remove it from the area as soon as possible. This will help prevent them from having access to it and reduce the chances of them consuming it. If you are unable to remove the poo immediately, then there are products available that can cover up the smell and make it less appealing for your pup.
2. Change Your Dog’s Diet
Many times dogs eat their own poo because they are either not getting enough nutrition in their diet or because they are not digesting what they are eating properly. Talk to your vet about changing your puppy’s diet and adding supplements that can help improve digestion and add more nutrients. If necessary, your vet may recommend a specific diet that will improve your dog’s gut health and ability to absorb nutrients.
3. Increase Exercise
Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise every day so they stay healthy and active. Regular exercise can help reduce stress levels and give them an outlet for any excess energy they may have that could cause them to engage in unwanted behaviours like eating their own poo.
4. Supervise Your Dog
When outside, make sure you keep an eye on your pup at all times so you can catch them before they start engaging in this type of behaviour and distract them with toys or treats instead. If you are able to reward your dog for behaving properly, they will have less incentive to display unhealthy behaviours.
5. Disinfect Areas Where Poo Is Found
Clean up any areas where your pup has left their mess with a disinfectant cleaner that is safe for animals. This not only helps keep them safe from the bacteria and toxins in their stool, but also removes the odour that may make them want to defecate in the same location once again.
6. Use Deterrents
There are products available such as sprays or powders that contain unpleasant smells or tastes which dogs find unappealing and will hopefully deter them from wanting to consume any type of faeces in general, including their own. These products are usually in the form of supplements, but first check with your vet if these products are appropriate for your dog.
7. Try Positive Reinforcement Training
Using positive reinforcement training methods such as reward-based training will help teach your pup what behaviours you want them to display. Reward your dog when they leave their poop alone before you clean it up, and in the future your dog will be more interested in their reward than in trying to eat their poo.
Most dogs are able to successfully stop this behaviour, but some may need a little help. Following these steps should help reduce the chances of your dog indulging in this undesirable habit. However, if this problem persists, then it is advisable to seek advice from a veterinarian or a canine behaviourist. There could be underlying medical issues at play, or other behavioural disorders that a puppy may develop due to abuse or neglect.