Understanding Why Dogs Eat Poop and How to Stop the Behaviour.
Eating poop is a common behaviour in dogs, with approximately 24% of dogs trying it at least once in their lives. While it may seem concerning, there are several reasons why dogs engage in this behaviour. Let us explore the different causes, ranging from harmless to potentially indicating an underlying issue.
Maternal Instinct and Evolution:
- Mother dogs occasionally eat poop to clean up after their litter. This behaviour creates a safer and cleaner environment for raising their pups.
- Dogs have scavenging instincts from their evolutionary past. If they are hungry or hoarding food, they may turn to poop as a substitute for sustenance. This behaviour is normal and nothing to worry about.
- Some dogs may try eating poop to get a reaction from their owners. Positive or negative attention reinforces the behaviour.
- Negative reactions, such as punishment for soiling the house, can lead to anxiety in dogs. To avoid punishment, they may eat their poop to conceal the evidence.
Underlying Medical Issues:
- Dogs may eat their stools if they detect undigested food in them. This behaviour could indicate a medical issue and should discussed with your veterinarian.
- Look for additional signs like weight loss, vomiting, changes in behaviour, or overall illness as potential indicators of a more serious problem.
Methods to Stop the Behaviour:
- Taste-Aversion Products: Consider using taste-aversion products added to your dog's food. This will make the poop taste unpleasant, discouraging them from eating it again.
- Prompt Cleanup: Immediately pick up your dog's poop during walks to reduce the opportunity for them to engage in this behaviour. Although this method may not address incidents that occur when you are not present, it helps minimize the chances.
- Maintain Clean Living Area: Keep your dog's living area clean to discourage them from soiling it themselves. A clean environment reduces the likelihood of engaging in such behaviours.
- Treat Distraction Method: Use the treat distraction method when you observe your dog eating poop. Distract them with a toy or command, and when they comply, praise them, and offer a treat as a positive reinforcement.
- Nutritional Supplements: In some cases, eating poop may signal a nutritional deficiency. Adding vitamin supplements, especially Vitamin B, to your dog's diet can help reduce this behaviour.
Understanding why dogs eat poop and implementing appropriate measures can help address this behaviour. Remember, while some reasons are harmless and part of natural instincts, it is crucial to monitor your dog's health and consult a veterinarian if you suspect any underlying medical issues.