If you've ever owned a dog or own one now, you probably have wondered why dogs eat poop. It's disgusting, unattractive, and generally unsafe in many ways. But, you should know that if your dog eats poop, he's not alone. In fact, it is a fairly common behaviour that can cause a lot of stress for owners. Known as coprophagia, the eating of poop can be a sign of deeper anxiety or nutritional issues.
Why Dogs Eat Poop
Dogs will eat poop for any number of reasons. The simplest explanation is that they may be hungry or they might be trying to clean up their space. If you do not feed your dog enough or if they are in a dirty pen, they will work to resolve these issues, often resorting to eating their excrement.
There are also health issues related to poop eating. A dog might not be getting enough nutrients due to parasites or worms that suck the nutrients dry of their food. They simply might not be getting the nutrients they need from the dry food they receive each day.
Other dogs will eat poop as an anxious habit, or even because they have seen you picking it up and are trying to mimic your behaviour in their own way. They could also be copying other dogs eating poop.
The important thing to know is that no matter why dogs eat poop in your household, the problem can be solved relatively easily.
How to Adjust the Behaviour
If your dog likes to eat poop, the first thing you should do is check for any health problems. This is especially true if the dog never did it before and has started recently. Dogs that eat poop regularly could have worms or other parasites or may not have enough food. See your vet to determine why this is happening and then treat it immediately.
If your vet gives your dog a clean bill of health, they don't have any other problems that could lead directly to the issue, and they don't stop doing it, you need to address whatever other problems might be causing them to eat poop.
Start by keeping the yard clean of poop. Remove the poop from your yard every day, check the paths near your home and pick up any poop your dog leaves. It doesn't matter why dogs eat poop if it is not a health problem - it is behavioural and can be treated by removing the source of the problem.
Adjusting the Behaviour
Alternatively, you can take other measures to stop the eating. It might seem strange that bitter apple and cayenne pepper would be worse tasting for a dog than the poop, but they are. Additionally, if you feed you dog a spoonful of pumpkin puree a day, the poop will taste much less appealing to them. You can also spray them with a water bottle or use a sharp "No!" whenever they start to eat poop.
Ultimately, removing the cause of the problem is the easiest way to solve your dog's coprophagia issues, but if you frequently take you dog to dog parks or let them off the leash outside, you'll want to take more advanced steps. Be consistent, watch them carefully and by all means, don't let them lick your face.
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