Dogs can have pretty nasty habits. Let’s be honest, the noise they make cleaning their genitalia and the smells they produce through flatulence are not sociable behaviors. Eating dog poop surely takes unsavory behavior to a whole new level though, right? Whilst it may leave you feeling a bit green around the gills, it’s important to get to the root cause of why your dog is eating poop.
So, let’s explore this topic now and discover why they do it, if it can be prevented, and if it can be problematic to your pooch’s health.
Your Cockapoo could be eating poop for a few reasons. These can include habit, boredom, or a way of exploring. Eating poop can also be a learned behavior from their mother. Hunger can be another factor as can various illnesses. It’s an unpleasant but not uncommon habit.
Some wild animals eat poop as part of their normal behavior, but dogs aren’t wild so why does this occur in our domesticated pets? Eating poop is a pica behavior. Pica is where non-food products are ingested regularly. So why is your Cockapoo turning to this unsavory habit?
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Definition of Coprophagia
Eating dog poop has an actual name – Coprophagia, and if you are visiting this page it’s likely you already know this is a thing. However, you may not have realized that this behavior has a title with studies and theories behind it. Coprophagia is the consumption of feces and this habit can be the result of many factors which we will take a look at and discuss below. A dog may eat another dogs’ poop or its own.
Some theories suggest that canine coprophagy spans back to their wolf ancestry. Wolves who did their business in the den or within proximity to the den would have it eaten by a pack member. This was done to prevent infections within the pack caused by intestinal parasites. This theory is strengthened by studies that show dogs who eat poop will only eat fresh poop of up to two days old. But what other reasons could be behind this behavior other than this perhaps, primal instinct?
Reasons for Eating Dog Poop
When puppies are born, the mother dog will often consume the puppies’ feces in order to keep the area clean and from smelling bad. It’s simply the mother’s way of being hygienic. Of course, the puppies may then mirror this behavior and eat their own poop. Most puppies will grow out of this at around 9 months old, but it is a learned behavior that can become a habit and your pup won’t simply grow out of.
Some dogs are simply drawn to the smell and taste of feces which can be a hard concept for humans to grasp. It may be that some foods haven’t been properly digested and your pooch may sniff this out on their walk.
An underfed or greedy dog may eat dog poop just because they can. Some dogs are food-obsessed and will simply eat anything they can find, palatable or not.
Some theorists believe dogs eat poop to make up for something that is lacking in their diet. However, there has been much debate around this, some believing this not to be the case at all. Veterinarians do not tend to believe this theory and therefore will be keen to look for other possible causes.
Dogs may eat their poop if left alone for too long or if kept outside. This is partly because they are trying to keep the area clean but it can also be a behavior stemming from anxiety. Some dogs may simply eat their feces so that they are not later punished for soiling.
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) is a condition whereby the pancreas stops producing enough digestive enzymes. This can cause your dog to not be able to digest their food correctly and can lead to malnutrition, and the important nutrients are prevented from being absorbed. This could result in your dog eating their own poop to claim back these nutrients.
Diabetes may also cause a dog to eat either their own or others’ feces. A diabetic dog will often be excessively hungry due to the need for glucose. However, there will likely be other symptoms if this is the cause of your dog eating poop.
A dog left to their own devices over prolonged periods or has access to lots of outdoor space may eat poop. It may be feeling bored or just cleaning up its mess.
A parasitic infection could lead to your dog eating poop. There may be other symptoms to accompany this but if your dog suddenly begins eating poop it’s worth getting them checked over and treated as they may have an infection such tapeworm.
Is Eating Poop Dangerous?
So, we’ve looked into some of the reasons why your Cockapoo could be eating poop, but can this be harmful to your pooch? Can it affect human health too? Well, generally speaking, if your dog is eating only their own poop then it’s not likely to cause any issues. However, if your pooch is partial to poop from other canines then this can be a problem.
The health of other dogs will be unknown and the same goes for what is inside that dog’s feces. It may be that the dog is on medication and your pooch consuming their stool could mean ingesting some of this. They also run the risk of catching infections or parasites through other doggies’ mess. After eating poop if you notice any sudden changes in your dog’s health you should seek advice straight away.
If your delightful pooch has just eaten poop then it’s not likely to cause you any harm (other than feeling rather queasy). However, it’s imperative to not allow your dog to lick you after they’ve eaten poop due to the potential germs now harboring in and around their mouth. You may want to brush their teeth if this is a normal routine in your household.
Can Eating Poop Be Prevented?
The good news is there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood of your dog eating poop. Practical steps both in the home and in the local environment can ensure this doesn’t happen, or at least happens less frequently.
Break the habit from day one. We’ve already discussed how a litter of puppies may develop this habit from their mother. Once home, it’s important to put a stop to this right away. Have a consistent toileting routine in place for your dog, potty trained or not. If your puppy is potty trained and goes outdoors, then make sure you supervise and pick it up right away. If your dog poops in the house clean it up right away. A dog cannot eat what isn’t there.
Teach your pup the ‘Leave It’ command. As soon as your dog learns this command then encouraging them to leave poop alone should be much easier.
Walk your dog on a leash. You have so much more control over what they have access to if you can see at all times. So, if your dog is prone to eating unsavory things, keep it close by you on walks.
Dogs that eat poop due to anxiety may need further understanding to get to the reason behind this anxiety. You can enlist the help of a specialist which can be hugely beneficial.
Pineapple is used by some as a preventive to Coprophagia. The reasoning behind this theory is that dogs dislike the smell of it in their poop so won’t be tempted to eat it. However, this begs the question will they eat the pineapple in the first place? It may be worth a try but don’t feed them too much as it contains lots of sugars.
Make sure your pooch is getting the exercise and attention they need to be happy and healthy. A happy, well-exercised dog is less prone to anxiety or boredom.
Give your dog the best diet you can afford on your budget. There are also certain vitamins and probiotics your pooch can benefit from. Follow the feeding guide on the food or ask your vets about feeding quantities.
Products Available on the Market
We’ve handpicked three of the products available today that can assist with Coprophagia.
- Headcollar Leashes – These are good because you are in control of where your dog places it’s head when sniffing on a walk
- Dog Stool Repellents – There are tablets you can buy which claim to make your dog’s poop unpalatable
- Vitamins and minerals are often suggested as a method in combatting Coprophagia.
We now understand that dogs eating poop is an actual thing, and we have explored the reasons why your Cockapoo may be doing it. There are lots of ways to prevent this from happening or at least limiting it to less frequent behavior. Keeping your dog’s toileting area clean will prevent them from eating their own.
Keeping your dog on a leash will help control their outdoor behavior. Help is available if you are worried your dog may be ill as a result of eating poop, and there are also helpful resources to determine just why your dog is doing it. Fear not, your Cockapoo is still the lovely dog you invested in, despite their less than desirable habits.