You’re probably disgusted by your dog’s habit of eating his own poop, and rightly so. This habit can be worrying at best and dangerous at worst. There are usually two main reasons why your dog might be doing this—either he has a medical problem, or a behavioral one.
However, your primary concern is probably whether this habit is harmless or will make him sick. Read on to learn more about a dog eating poop side effects and why he might be indulging in this behavior.
What is Coprophagia?
Coprophagia is the medical term used for eating feces, and many people have seen their dogs engaging in this behavior. This probably is generally prevalent in small puppies until they are around a year old, but it can sometimes happen to older dogs as well.
While your dog probably isn’t eating their poop to disgust you, they’re still doing a great job at it. But don’t be too worried, your dog isn’t the only dog in the world that sees his poop as a convenient daytime snack.
In a study by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, it was found that every 1 in 6 dogs has been caught eating their poop a minimum of 5 times. It was also found that every 1 in 4 dogs has been seen eating his poop at least once.
The study also found that eating poop is a normal habit among dogs and has been a running characteristic in dogs since time immemorial. It is one of the tactics that their ancestors used in the past to survive in situations where they were dying from starvation.
You might have noticed that your dog was more likely to find poop an attractive meal option when he was a puppy. Puppies often engage in this behavior for the first year of their life, before eventually grew out of it. It is part of their first step into the real world when they are trying to eat or bite whatever they can fit in their mouths.
Some other facts about coprophagia are:
- It is more likely to happen in houses where there are more dogs, with almost 33 percent of dogs who live with other pets engaging in this behavior as opposed to 20 percent of them doing it in houses where they are the only ones around. This can be because more than one dog living in the same space encourages them to do things they would otherwise not do on their own. They also have other poop to try out as well.
- Poop-eating dogs are more likely to be female than male.
- Almost any dog that decides to indulge in poop-eating only wants what’s new. They’re not going to eat poop that is more than 2 days old.
- Thankfully, around 85 percent of dogs will prefer their own feces in contrast to that of other dogs.
- The majority of dogs that eat poop are also the same ones that try to grab food off the table when you’re having dinner with your family.
Will Coprophagia Make My Dog Sick?
Your dog can definitely get sick from eating his poop, however, most of the symptoms you start seeing in your dog after they’ve acquired this habit are not directly related to this problem. For example, your dog might have eaten the poop of another animal that had something in its feces that the dog did not have a tolerance to.
coprophagia isn’t usually dangerous or a cause of concern, but at times it can lead to infection and diseases that can make your dog sick. He can also get gastroenteritis and suffer from vomiting and diarrhea.
Many times, if your dog falls ill immediately after the time they ingested poop, it’s possible that the animal whose poop they ate had harmful medication or substances in it. After all, feces are the unwanted and undigested parts of the food we eat, so they are bound to contain harmful components.
As long as your dog eats his own poop, you do not have to worry unless symptoms arise. However, if your dog is eating the poop of another animal, especially if it is not even another dog, but a different species altogether, it may be a worrying sign for you.
Dogs who snack on the poop of other species are making themselves vulnerable to picking up foreign germs and parasites that their body is not built to fight.
How Can I Tell if My Dog is Sick from Coprophagia?
What is important to remember, as mentioned above, is that it is not the act of eating poop that specifically causes your dog to fall ill. Dogs have been eating poop for generations and they don’t become sick because of it. If your dog is ill, it’s usually the result of ingesting poop that contained something to make it sick.
Some signs of a dog eating poop side effects are:
- Throwing up and feeling nauseous
- Feeling tired and lazy
- Not wanting to eat food
- Worms and parasites in intestines
If your dog experiences any of these symptoms, it’s important that you take him to a vet to get checked up. Even a problem like diarrhea, which is not as dangerous for humans, can significantly weaken animals.
There are also other medical problems that your dog could have that have led him to eat poop. He could have health problems, like enzyme deficiency, that makes him more included to consume feces.
In some cases, you might notice that your dog is eating nothing but poop, in which case you need to immediately contact a doctor who will help you determine the root cause of this problem.
Can Being Sick Make My Dog Want to Eat Poop?
Sometimes it’s not the poop that makes your dog sick, but the fact that he’s already sick. There are certain medical and behavioral conditions that your dog can have that make him want to consume his own or other animal’s feces.
- Your dog could be suffering from anxiety, like shifting to a new environment or not being able to adjust to a new pet or family member. This may lead them to eat poop out of nervousness.
- Your dog may have a lack of enzymes in their diet, leading them to seek it out in their poop. Dogs that are deficient in enzymes might resort to eating poop unless their food is enhanced with supplements like vitamins and enzymes.
- Your dog may have a malabsorption syndrome, which basically means that he has trouble utilizing the right nutrients from the food he eats, causing him to keep craving it from another source. In some cases, this source is his own poop or the poop of other animals.
- He could have diabetes, Cushing’s, thyroid disease or other similar diseases that lead dogs to want more food than they actually need. These conditions cause an increase in their appetite, and when you aren’t feeding him extra, he resorts to having poop as his cheat meal.
What Can You Do To Cure Coprophagia
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Your dog is a smart, well-trained animal, but can still be a bad boy sometimes. He’s not going to stop his poop-eating habits unless he grows out of them over time. However, you, as his owner, can make changes to his lifestyle and diet so that he no longer feels the need to consume any poop.
- Take your dog out for exercise as much as you can, until you know that he’s gotten his required dosage of exercise per day. When your dog is tired out and happy with the attention he gets, he’s less likely to go out of his way for your attention. He’ll also have a better outlet for all the pent-up energy.
- Teach him new tricks that he can practice out in the yard. play games with him and keep him occupied. The more new tricks and games he has on his mind, the less likely he is to engage in other behavior to pass his time, like snacking on his yard droppings.
- Make sure your yard is clean. If you don’t immediately pick up his droppings from the yard, he might eat them because that is his way of cleaning up after himself. Install fences or scarecrows to keep other animals away from using your yard as their toilet and expose your dog to their germs.
- Get your dog some high-end, supplement-enriched dog food that covers up for all the deficiencies in nutrients that he might have. If your dog needs more enzymes, calories or vitamins, get him food that comes equipped with all the extra energy your dog is trying to find from other sources.
- Most importantly, if you feel like your dog is experiencing deterioration in his health because of coprophagia, take him to a vet who might take blood tests or check your dog up for any underlying conditions that could be causing the problem.
Dog eating poop side effects<span style=”font-weight: 400;”> are not that common unless your dog goes for poop that isn’t his or is infected with parasites he can’t handle. Unless you feel like the behavior is extremely unusual for your dog and suspect a more serious condition as the reason, there isn’t much to be worried about. However, if your dog does fall ill, it’s better to take him to the vet before his condition gets worse.