The scientific term for poop eating is coprophagia. And most of those writing to me about a dog with coprophagia are very upset.
The chances are, if your dog has this problem, you are upset too. These feelings need to be addressed, not ignored or dismissed. Whether your dog is snacking on his own poop, or raiding the cat litter box, you will want to know how to stop your dog eating poop as quickly as possible. Coprophagia in dogs Poop eating is often swept under the carpet. What is more, owning a dog that eats poop, especially a dog that eats his own poop, is often a hugely distressing problem for many dog owners.
And, it is a frequently reported problem in Labradors and other sporting dogs. Not only can it really help to know that you are not alone, and that many other dog owners have this problem too, it also helps us to understand our dogs a little better Which dogs eat poop? And more than a third of Border Collies did. Judging from my inbox, coprophagia is common in Labradors too.
Coprophagia is linked with size A study published in Colorado in showed that sporting dogs generally were more likely to be coprophagic. Body weight is a factor in this behavior, but only in the sense of being related to size. Dogs that were heavier because they were obese, are no more likely to be affected. Age is often considered to be a factor in poop eating, but the Colarado study did not support the theory that poop eating is more common in puppies.
Coprophagia is linked with neutering The current evidence points to neutering as being a major factor in the development of coprophagia. One study found that poop eating was more common in spayed females Dogs that had been spayed or castrated were more likely to be reported as eating poop than dogs left in possession of their sex hormones.
In the Hart study the biggest culprits were spayed females. In the study carried out at the Colarado University neutering drastically increased the incidence of coprophagy in male dogs but had no effect on females.
Both studies agree however that neutering is a major cause of coprophagia, and seems to be more significant than any environmental factor Coprophagia may be more common than we think Interestingly, the true figure for the percentage of dogs that eat poop may be even higher than these studies suggest.
Data from the studies was based on owner reports and the results of another study published in that identified dogs which are coprophagic and compared that data with owner reports, suggests that under-reporting by owners is a factor. There are lots of them. But why do they do it? It may depend partly on the type of poop being consumed Why do dogs eat their poop — different causes There are plenty of facts and theories around why dogs eat poop.
And plenty of guesswork too. We can also see that keeping a nest area clean may well be a trigger that could apply to male dogs too. And it could explain why some male dogs eat poop that they find in their own back yard.
Why do puppies eat poop? Like babies, puppies explore the world with their mouths. Everything and anything goes into it.
If what goes into the mouth tastes like food, then puppies may swallow it. In theory, some poop eating puppies will grow out of it, whereas for others it becomes a habit.
Well it would seem that some dogs would disagree with you. And that might be partly to do with the way we feed our dogs these days. What came out the other end was fairly boring. So tasty is the key. And very tasty they are too. Do flavour and fillers in dog food make poo eating more likely? Substances which bulk up the nutrients and give the food structure. This is why kibble fed dogs produce larger quantities of faeces than raw fed dogs. But remember those flavourings we just talked about?
Well the faeces of the kibble fed dog are not only bulky, they are also highly flavoured. Poo is getting tastier. That is my theory anyway! Can changing diet influence coprophagia Some studies into why dogs eat poop, have shown that dogs with deficient diets or that are poorly nourished are more likely to eat poop. A study on Beagles in showed that feeding a deliberately deficient diet triggered coprophagia among other problems for example. If an undernourished coprophagic dog is switched to a nutrient rich nourishing diet, in theory that change may stop the poop eating behavior But most modern dogs that eat poo are not nutritionally deficient and are fed a balanced diet with all the nutrients they need.
So switching brands for example, is unlikely to stop your dog eating poop. With some exceptions — as you will see. Virtually all dogs will eat cat poop if given the opportunity.
I have had chance to rediscover this for myself first hand recently, as I am currently raising a young kitten. Two of my labs, one of which has never eaten poop in her life, plus the spaniel I mention below, have all attempted dawn raids on the litter tray. I have now secured the litter tray behind a baby gate which the cat can slide through and the dogs cannot. And this is likely to be the best solution to the problem. The one in the photo is the Carlson and is available in America.
My gate was meant to go across the bathroom door, but the bathroom doorway is extra narrow, so we have fitted it across the hallway instead. The same applies to ungulate feces — An ungulate is an animal with a hoof. It is completely natural for a dog to enjoy eating horse poop, sheep poop, deer poop etc too. And almost all dogs will enjoy the feces of these animals. However, you may have a friend whose dog never eats poop, of any kind.
So why is your dog different? For the reasons we have looked at above, coprophagia is more common in female dogs, but some male dogs do still eat poop. Also for the reasons above, dogs are more likely to eat poop from animals that have a lot of digested vegetable matter in their feces, again, experts consider this normal But some dogs do eat carnivore poop, such as the poop from wild foxes or the poop of other dogs, or even their own.
And this tends to be the behavior that most upsets us humans Your dog is also more likely much more likely to eat poop, of any kind, if he or she is neutered, but no-one seems to know why that is. Why do dogs eat their poop — some conclusions Poop eating can start in puppyhood and may become a habit if it persist in adult dogs.
There is also evidence that poop eating is more likely in dogs that already have behavioral problems such as anxiety or pica eating plants, stones, and other inedible items However, we also know that well balanced, well fed, physically and emotionally healthy dogs can also be poop eaters.
In fact most poop eating dogs probably fall into this category. The simple truth is, that poop eating, while thoroughly objectionable to us, is so common as to be normal in the domestic dog. And we will probably never find out exactly why dogs eat poop on a case by case basis. Can dogs get sick from eating poop? There is definitely a risk that your dog could get parasites from eating the poop of other dogs. The potential for parasites sometimes found in cat poop fall into this category.
Most dogs have a digestion that is simply unaffected by common pathogens that could make you or I very ill. How does poop eating harm dogs? The answer lies in a breakdown of the bond between the dog and his family. This happens because humans are often shocked and disgusted by the behavior, and if they fail to address it swiftly, may abandon their dog Most dogs come to no harm directly, from poop eating. But, indirectly, it can lead to dogs being re-homed or abandoned. I hear quite a lot of dog owners issue ultimatums on this one.
Very often the reasons given for abandoning the dog are to do with hygiene. The family say that they are worried that the dog will infect a family member with pathogens from the poop he has eaten, But I suspect the underlying cause is more fundamental than that. After all, most people are happy to share an ice-cream with a dog that licked his bottom a few minutes earlier.
The truth is, that whether we like it or not, persistent poop eating may seriously reduce the love that a person feels for their dog. This is an issue that is not often raised. But I think it is a significant one. For those of us that have been associating with dogs for many years, some of their finer habits are pretty familiar, but for many people with a first dog, poop eating behavior is a terrible shock and a very real concern.
The important thing to tell you is that most of us more seasoned dog owners once felt the same way. You might feel, right now, that you will never truly love your dog again, but the chances are, you are wrong.
It was over thirteen years ago, soon after I had made the change from keeping mostly male dogs, to keeping mostly female dogs. And I was appalled and disgusted. I was even tempted to re-home her. But I can tell you that she is still with me today, she is thirteen years old, rarely eats poop these days never say never , and is one of my very dearest friends. So these things can be worked through. How to stop a dog from eating poop? There are lots of things you can try to prevent a dog eating his own poop at home.
The first step is to remove the source of poo wherever possible. You may find it helpful, for a while at least, to go with your dog when you let him out for bathroom purposes. That way, you can clear up immediately, and dispose of his feces securely, before he is tempted to settle down for a snack.
However, sadly, in most cases, these kinds of remedies do not work. And when they do, some find that they only work for a short while.