I am a Dog Mom of puppies Austin(Golden Retriever) and Choco(Pug) and love to share their stories, images, puppy training and behavior tips.
Dogs do a lot of weird, sometimes silly, often unexplainable things, but perhaps there is no stranger and, of course, grosser canine behavior than when your puppy start eating poop, whether it's another dog's or his own. This is really difficult for dog owners to deal with it but veterinarians and dog behaviorists consider it a "normal" behavior.
In fact there is scientific name for this behavior: Coprophagia. Puppies or dogs may ingest their own feces or those of other animals, including humans. But why do puppies do this?
How many Dogs Eat Poop?
According to study, 24% of the dogs eat poop while about one of every six dogs are serial poop eaters. Now, here below are the possible reasons for this weird behavior:
It is common for mother dogs to eat their puppies' feces during the first three weeks of lactation, which helps protect the puppies and keep their environment clean. Many puppies will begin to eat feces at very young age.
Hunger and Food Obsession
A dog suffering from starvation or severe malnutrition might eat anything it can find. Many dogs are completely obsessed with food and will ingest anything that tastes good. So may be your dog likes the way feces smells and tastes.
To seek your Attention
When puppies are young, They explore things with mouth and they may grab their poop. When they do so, you probably run towards them and may react by yelling or giving some command. Your dog may take this reaction as an invitation to play so, he might eat more to get your attention. It is really difficult to not pay attention to a dog that is eating poop.
Boredom or Isolation
Another reason for poop eating in dogs is boredom and isolation. Dogs are social animals and hence when left unsupervised or alone for long time, they may simply investigate, play with and eat feces. There has been recorded less stool eating behavior in dogs that are in constant company with their owners.
Dogs learn many things other dogs. So if your dog sees another dog enjoying a poop, he might try and hence becomes his habit.
Stress and Anxiety
Stressed dog will often chew and eat things they are not supposed to, including poop. Anxiety is another reason for copophagy in dogs and the development of this behavior often happens in dogs undergoing house training. When a puppy gets punished for making errors during house training, this causes them to eat their stool to hide the evidence and avoid punishment. No Poop means No Punishment.
Inappropriate association with real food
Dogs who are fed in proximity to their feces may make a connection between the odors of food and those of poop and will be unable to tell the difference.
If your dog is eating his own poop, this is an indication that his body is not properly digesting and absorbing the food being fed and that nutrient assimilation is poor. If parts of dog's food remain undigested after it passed through GI tract, there is increased chance that the dog will attempt to eat it again. If your dog is eating poop from other animals like dog, cat or other herbivore, then he is not getting the sufficient nutrients from his food. He is looking for the undigested food and those essential nutrients from another's stool.
Not Feeling Well
If it is a new behavior, then there may be something medically wrong with your dog. It can be sign of Diseases of intestine tract, the liver or the brain. There can be sudden weight loss, vomiting or other behavioral changes. The dog should be examined by vet to rule out intestinal parasites, diabetes, thyroid conditons or other diseases.
Should I Worry If My Dog is Eating Poop?
In dogs, eating one's own poop doesn't typically cause adverse reactions. Interestingly, feces contain high levels of amino acids, docosahexaenoic acid which has been shown to be beneficial to brain development. But that doesn't mean eating their poop is healthy.
The most apparent problem associated with this is foul breath smell. As they eat poop, parts of it will get stuck on the surface of their teeth or in between them, leading to foul smelling breath.
But it is totally different case if they start ingesting the poop of other animals or other dogs. This puts them at high risk of contracting contagious GI infections- many bacterial, viral and parasitic infections or even causes vomiting and diarrhea, known as gastroenteritis.
Though poop-eating behavior is considered common in dogs, it’s still best to take steps to prevent this from starting or to stop the behavior before it starts to become worse.