dogs eating feces

Does your dog eat feces?

Why do dogs eat feces?

Admit it; at some point in your time with your dog you have caught your pooch snacking on some, err, feces. And as certainly as the sun rises in the east, it must have grossed you out. Take heart in knowing you are not alone, and neither is your dog. What seems gross to us is actually quite a common phenomenon in the doggy world. In fact, there’s a word for it too – coprophagia.

dog poop

But why do dogs eat feces?

Gross or not, dogs seem to enjoy eating poop (their or some other animals) to quite a degree. No amount of scolding or ‘drop its’ will make them give up on this habit. The reasons for this are plenty. From behavioral in nature to medical, and everything in between, you must try and ascertain the reasons behind your dog’s compulsive poop eating. Let’s look at the medical reasons first. #1. Enzyme deficiency In nature, wild canines eat according to their surroundings. When wild dogs kill and prey, they consume the entire animal, including the guts. This takes care of their digestive enzymes dog needs. Unfortunately, in this kibble-influenced, highly processed world, the dog loses out on getting the right amount of enzymes it needs to properly absorb and digest their food. Yes, dogs do create enzymes on their own, but those are often not enough to perform the digestive process effectively. So they need to go looking for enzymes from elsewhere. And their stomach leads them straight to other animal poop. #2. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (E.P.I) Sometimes your dog’s pancreas cannot create enough digestive enzymes. Without these enzymes, the dog will literally slowly starve, even in the presence of food. You will notice weight loss, diarrhea and stool eating, because your dog will try and get those nutrients from somewhere. #3. Parasites If your dog has got intestinal parasites, they could be absorbing nutrients away from your dog, making him crave stool. A dose of natural deworming should take care of that. #4. Other medical conditions Diseases like diabetes and thyroid issues, or treatment involving steroids, can make dogs so hungry that they will eat stool.

#5. Mineral and vitamin deficiencies

Dogs don’t eat poop just for fun or to annoy us; for them, feces is an important source of vitamins and mineral, especially if the dog is on a diet of processed food. Changing the diet to a more nutrition rich one can correct this deficiency and eventually the habit.

#6. Mal-absorption

Poor nutrition absorption can also often lead to poop eating. Pay attention to whose stool is your dog eating as it can be an indicator of the underlying reason. Is it his own, or is he seeking out your cat’s litter box? In India there are also sources of cattle feces.

#7. Underfeeding

You could just be making an honest mistake, and feeding your pooch less than what he needs. Ensure you feed your dog sufficient food at regular intervals. If along with eating poop your dog is also losing weight on a fresh diet, then you must simply feed him more. Also, make and stick to a schedule; a hungry dog will look for alternate food sources.

amino acidsCould there be behavioral reasons for the poop eating?

If your dog gets an A+ on the health report card, it might be a good idea to check on possible behavioral reasons. #8. Cleanliness A female that has recently given birth will keep her nest clean by eating her puppies’ stool, and that is how nature intended it to be. Perhaps your dog is a better housekeeper than you and wants to just keep the nest clean, leading to this poop eating habit. #9. Puppies If your dog is still a puppy, consider poop eating as an experimental stage. Puppies get curious about their surroundings, and in that exploration they might take a nibble out of some feces. Good news is that puppies usually outgrow this habit.

#10. Scavengers

Dogs are born scavengers and get attracted by strong smells. Unlike us, they are not repulsed by feces and, given a chance, they might just pick it up.

#11. Boredom

Is your dog home alone all day with very little to do? If he finds poop in reach, he will just look at it as a way to entertain himself in your absence. And might take a few bites in the process.

#12. Attention seeking

Bad behavior gets more attention than good; our dogs learn that fast. Getting into trouble is an excellent way to get a mid-day or night snack and our attention, both. Who would turn down that opportunity!

#13. Stress

Is your dog stressed? Does he stay in the kennel all day while you are at work? Some dogs have been known to relieve stress by eating poop. Help your dog relax and be comfortable in his surroundings and that might help.

#14. Puppy mills

Dogs that are bought from a breeder could show greater chances of this behavior because of the conditions in some puppy mills – insufficient food and long-term crating could be some reasons.

#15. Punishment

Have you punished your dog for pooping inside the house? Your dog might be eating poop to cover up any evidence of his ‘bad behavior’. #16. Doggie see, doggie eat doo-doo If you decide to get a second dog while your older one still exhibits poop eating habits, your new pup may learn this behavior from the older sibling.

feces eating

Is there any way to stop this habit?

The reasons for eating poop could be any. But here’s a checklist of things you could do to stop the habit.
  • Clean up after your dog immediately and don’t give him a chance to sample poop.
  • Keep your furry friend physically and mentally engaged all the time.
  • Check your dog’s stool regularly for parasites.
  • Have a regular feeding and poop schedule.
  • Offer a nutritionally-rich, species-appropriate raw diet. If you feed home-cooked food, you might need to add digestive enzymes.
  • A raw diet also addresses any trace mineral deficiencies.

Benefits of BARF – Basic Ancestral Raw Food

If you are already feeding your dog a raw diet, great! If not, read on to know how your furry friend can benefit from a species-appropriate raw dog food. A balanced, species appropriate diet is the best way to tackle your dog’s poop eating habits. And the best option is raw. A part of the wolf family (yes, even your sweet Lab or lap-sized Apso), your dog needs and will thrive only on a raw diet.

Green Tripe:

Raw food has the required digestive enzymes your dog goes looking for in poop. Green tripe is in fact very high in digestive enzymes and probiotics. Read more about raw green tripe, here. This natural food contains the exact mix of all the nutrients and goodness that a dog would get if it were a wild creature. More importantly, it good quality quality protein that is very good for your dog. Yes, poop eating is gross, but look for underlying reasons for the behavior. And if the vet gives your friend a clean bill of health, then follow the points from the checklist above. Be patient, be consistent and be loving.