How Do I Stop My Dog From Eating Poop Naturally? Understanding the Behavior
I can’t remember the number of times I have been asked the question “How do I stop my dog eating poop naturally?” Out of all of the stressful and worrying habits that your dog may suddenly start carrying out eating poop is probably the grossest and disgusting things you have to watch.
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One topic often addressed by veterinarians concerns the following inquiry: “How do I stop my dog from eating poop naturally?” While this behavior may seem inexplicable, if not disgusting, to first-time dog owners, it actually is quite normal. When a dog eats its own poop, it is known as coprophagy and it is a type of protective and instinctual device for keeping predators at bay. However, you need to confront the issue immediately. Otherwise, the behavior will reoccur.
Stay Calm and in Command
One way that you do not want to react is by acting alarmed. Doing so can lead to other behavioral issues as well. Let’s say that you just adopted a new puppy. Many puppies begin eating poop when they are still part of a litter. During the time, mother dogs often eat puppy stools to clean the “den” and safeguard their puppies. Therefore, this evolutionary activity is not unusual as it is also done by other animals.
Mother dogs eat puppy poop every now and then from the time of birth until they have weaned their pups. When the puppies see their mother eating the poop, they follow suit. The mother stops eating her puppies’ poop when they start eating solid food. However, by this time, the puppy may continue eating the stools. When a dog engages in the activity, it has learned it from its mother. They also have an innate curiosity that leads them to engage in the activity. This type of curiosity triggers the tasting, smelling, and consumption of stools.
Is it normal?
With that being said, you probably still want to know, “how do I stop my dog from eating poop naturally?” It does not help to know that the behavior is learned or that a dog’s typically curious personality leads to eating something so gross.
However, dogs that receive a nutrition-rich diet that is well balanced for a dog usually stop eating their stools. If your dog eats poop despite your efforts toward good nutrition, you need to speak to your veterinarian or an animal behaviorist. Besides a dog’s diet, dogs may eat their poop to get attention, because they are bored, or to avoid punishment. They may also have an underlying health issue that promotes the activity.
To get at the bottom of the cause, you need to find the reason and consider the dog’s age. The following reasons can give you a better understanding of the behavior. They can help you answer the question once and for all: “How do I stop my dog from eating poop naturally?”
Your puppy or dog may have problems with digestion. If a portion of food lacks digestible ingredients or the food is defecated basically in the same form as it was ingested, your puppy or dog’s diet needs to be changed. In this instance, the stool may taste close to the food it ate. Once you switch to a premium dog food, you should be able to stop stool eating. If you have tried to switch out the food but the dog still eats its poop, you need to have your pet checked by the vet.
As noted, boredom can also cause puppies or dogs to eat their stools. For instance, if a dog is left alone for a lengthy time, it may play and eat its stools for something to do.
Boredom can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. In this case, an adult dog may relieve the added stress by eating its poop. A dog may feel anxious if another pet is introduced into the home or if it is trying to acclimate itself to new surroundings. If you punish your dog for eating its stools, you could induce even more anxiety. Therefore, you need to find ways to calm and reassure it so it does not turn to this type of behavior for relief.
If your dog suffers from intestinal parasites or worms, it may lead to the leaching of nutrients from its system. In turn, it may try to support its diet by eating what seems edible. In some instances, puppies or dogs that are healthy may simply not get enough food to eat. For example, puppies are growing and need to eat up to three times per day. If it is being fed small amounts one or two times per day, it may seek to eat its stools to curb its hunger. New pet owners who are not sure about feeding should speak to their veterinarians.
If you do not want your dog to continue eating stools, you need to react calmly to the situation. If a dog thinks that it is getting a response, even if it is negative, it feels that it is getting attention. When you discover your dog eating poop, that is not the time you want to become a drama king or queen.
Some dogs, when they poop, may be ashamed that they pooped in the wrong spot. In this case, they may try to conceal the evidence. Never try to rub your dog’s nose in the defecation as it usually will not understand the meaning. Plus, this deterrent is cruel, especially to a developing pup. This bad housebreaking method may turn on you as well. If the dog thinks that it will be punished if you discover the poop, it may try to eat it.
Just because dogs are domesticated does not mean that their natural instincts do not guide some of their behaviors. For example, a dog may roll in its feces to mask its scent. It may also turn several times, which is referred to as denning before it lies down. Eating poop is another one of a dog’s ingrained instincts and a protective behavior learned when a dog is young.
Dogs understand hierarchy. That is why wild dogs live in packs. Therefore, one dog serves as the leader while the other dogs act submissively. Researchers find that coprophagia is practiced by submissive dogs that live in packs. However, they only eat the stools of the leader or the more dominant members of the pack. While a domestic dog does not live in a pack, it may reside in a home with other dogs. If it is one of the more submissive dogs, it may eat poop.
Abuse and Neglect
Dogs who are starving from neglect or abuse will eat their stools to stay alive. Coprophagia is often noted in abandoned dogs or dogs that have been left behind after their owners moved away. These dogs often eat their poop after they have been rescued and adopted into a new home even if they are fed a healthy and nutritious diet. In this instance, stopping your dog from eating poop will become a challenging, if not difficult, process.
Unfortunately, some dogs simply like eating their stool and even the stools or feces of other animals. That poses a new dilemma for anyone who asks “How do I stop my dog from eating poop naturally?” In this scenario, you either have to distract your dog or pick up the poop as quickly as possible.
Some dogs take to eating the poop of cats or, if they live on a farm, may eat horse manure. When dogs eat a cat’s waste, it is because a cat often is fed a more nutritious diet. The dog receives the nutrition that it may be lacking in its own meals.
If you have asked discussed the situation with your vet and have asked the question, “How do I stop my dog from eating poop naturally?” you need to take stronger measures. These measures may include formatting a new dietary plan and giving your pet a medication that will relieve its stress. You may also want to ask about giving your dog a multivitamin to satisfy its nutritional requirements.
After all, different breeds possess different temperaments and types of nutrition. Also, older dogs have different nutritional needs than younger dogs. If you want to prevent stool-eating, you need to look at the nutrition first. Even if your dog’s reason for coprophagy is stress-induced, certain foods may help calm it down.
Addressing the Problem
The following methods will also help you prevent your dog from eating its stools:
Scoop up the Poop
When you walk your dog and it defecates, immediately scoops the poop so it won’t be tempted to eat it.
Keep Your Dog Leashed
When walking your dog, keep it leashed so you can make cleanup easier.
Teach Your Dog Basic Commands
Your dog should know the basic commands so you can detract it from eating its stools when you are walking it. It should know the commands “sit”, “lie down”, and “heel”.
Sicknesses Transmitted Through Stool Eating
Stool eating needs to be addressed as quickly as possible as the behavior can lead to a number of illnesses. These illnesses include the following:
When a dog eats the feces of a dog with worms, it becomes contaminated itself. Worms such as hookworms, tapeworms, or roundworms can take up residence in a dog’s body. The following information gives you a better idea of their effect.
Hookworms live in a dog’s small intestine. They not only negatively affect a dog but they can be spread to humans. If a dog suffers from anemia, hookworms can make the condition worse. That is because they feed off a dog’s blood. At the same time, they damage the mucosa in the intestine. If this happens, you need to buy a dewormer or deworming product to treat your dog.
Tapeworms can proliferate and make a dog gravely ill. That is because their presence can lead to malnutrition. Over a thousand species of tapeworms that lay eggs in feces exist. If your dog gets infected with tapeworms, you should take it to your vet for treatment.
Roundworms lay a large number of eggs that survive outside the host body and in the soil for as long as a decade. A dog can become infected with tapeworms from feces as well as contaminated soil. You need to treat roundworms with a vet-prescribed dewormer.
Heartworms infect a dog’s heart and therefore damage the tissue. When dogs are infected with heartworms, they usually do not survive. You can prevent heartworms by administering heartworm prophylactics. Once the worms establish themselves in a canine, treatment consists of poisoning the worms by using arsenic-based medicines. However, treatment usually weakens a dog further and it eventually dies.
Parvovirus is especially dangerous as it can lead to death, especially in puppies. This contagious sickness can negatively impact the intestinal tract or the circulatory system of an infected dog. Parvovirus destroys vital cells in a dog’s body, such as white blood cells and bone marrow. Treatment includes the administration of antibiotics and fluids. Most dogs do not survive this illness. If a dog does survive, it experiences permanent damage, mainly scar tissue, in the affected organs.
Infectious hepatitis, when found in dogs, spreads through the saliva, urine, blood, feces, and nasal mucus. The illness leads to a liver infection and a bleeding condition. Dogs experiencing the condition display various symptoms, especially fever and hemorrhaging. The treatment for this illness depends on the symptoms for each dog affected by the condition.
Campylobacteriosis results from an accumulation of campylobacteria in the dog’s gut. Usually, puppies suffer from this illness more often than other dogs. Pups with the condition present a severe case of diarrhea, which leads to dehydration and death if left untreated. This illness lasts about a week. However, younger dogs can die within this time if the problem is not immediately addressed. Vets treat dogs with fluids and antibiotics.
As you can see, the eating of feces is not something that you should take lightly as it concerns your dog behaviorally and physically. That is why you need to make sure that you provide your dog with the proper nutrition and keep an eye on it whenever you are walking it. Without the proper oversight, the eating of stools can lead to a problem that is far worse.
Make the Stools Taste Awful
One of the ways you can keep your dog from eating poop is to make it taste awful. You can find products online that you can use to coat your dog’s stool and prevent it from eating them. You can also use a number of do-it-yourself solutions.
For example, you might try coating the stools with lemon juice or a hot sauce. Also, canned pumpkin will do the trick as well. While pumpkin tastes good in food, it does not appeal to a dog when it has been digested and is part of its poop.
Another method for preventing the eating of poop is “tenderizing” your dog’s food. In other words, add some meat tenderizer to your dog’s diet. Doing so will make your dog’s waste taste super bad. As noted, keep your dog’s poop cleared and cleaned regularly. If you do not have time to do it yourself, check with a pooper scooper service to help you out.
Facts That Can Help You Understand
To help you understand why poop eating gets out of control, you also need to learn more about some of the related facts. For instance, one strange fact shows that dogs rarely eat diarrhea or stools that are not fully formed. Instead, they like to eat hard stools better. In fact, they are almost drawn to these types of stools.
Watch out as frozen stools are quickly consumed. Therefore, you need to watch your dog’s stool-eating habits in the wintertime. You could say that frozen poop is a “popsicle” to a dog.
Researchers have also discovered that stool-eating is more common in households with more than one dog. In homes with one dog, about 20% of dogs eat their poop while the percentage rose to about 33% in homes with more than one dog.
You do not have to worry about house training as a poop-eating canine is just as easy to train as a dog that does not consume doggy waste. You just need to be patient and avoid getting reactionary. Also, female dogs are more likely to eat their poop than their male counterparts. That is because the mother dog in the den cleans up the poop of her puppies.
What kind of poop?
Take this into account as well; dogs like fresh poop. They steer away from feces that is over two days old. Also, most of the poop eaters like to eat the poop of other dogs. If given the choice, they will pick another dog’s feces over their own. That is why you need to make sure that your dog is supervised if you walk it. As already mentioned, stool-related diseases result from eating the feces of other animals. If you want to avoid sickness and even death, you need to supervise your dog when you are watching it at the dog park or giving it a walk.
Too much food?
If your dog likes to grab food off your kitchen counter or table, it is also more likely to eat poop. Therefore, you need to check its diet if it has developed the habit of mealtime thievery. Do not feed your dog at the table but set out its meal at another spot, preferably away from the kitchen. While you may consider your dog a beloved member of your family, you should give it a nutrition-rich diet designed for the canine species. It is not a human. You need to satisfy its nutritional requirements and avoid giving it human food.
Stressors That Worsen the Problem
Normally, a dog begins eating poop because of a stressor in its environment. This stress may result from isolation, spending too much time in a restricted space, or the methods used by an owner for punishment. Dogs like to socialize and love the great outdoors.
Therefore, you need to understand a dog’s specific needs. Also, do not feed your dog close to where it defecates. Doing so may lead to the dog eating the poop as well. In some cases, a healthy dog may consume stools from a sick or older dog. This is done from instinct or to protect the weaker dog from a predator.
Veterinarians suggest a number of methods to prevent and stop poop eating. Often, a vet will prescribe a vitamin supplement. If a dog is lacking something in its diet, this form of support can alleviate poop eating permanently. For example, a vitamin B deficiency often is the cause for a dog to take on eating its poop. Research has proven that if you add B vitamins to your dog’s diet, it will eventually stop eating its poop, provided that a lack of nutrients was the cause.
A vet may also suggest supplementing your dog’s diet with enzymes. Today’s dog’s diets contain more carbs and reduced meat proteins and fats. Therefore, adding a meat tenderizer that contains papain can help. Not only will the papain support the dog’s enzyme health but the tenderizer, when consumed and defecated, will keep the dog from eating its stools as well.
As noted, taste-aversion products are featured in the marketplace that can help you with a stool-eating problem. Most of the products contain taste-aversion ingredients such as monosodium glutamate, derivatives of the pepper plant, yucca, chamomile, garlic, and parsley.
Environmental management will also keep a dog from eating poop. To begin, keep the dog’s living space clean as well as the yard free from poop. Also, if you own a cat, keep the litter box cleaned and away from your dog. As noted, you should always supervise your dog on walks and pick up the waste immediately.
Focus on teaching your dog commands that will divert its attention from eating poop. One way that is effective is teaching your dog to come to you for a treat the moment that it has done its business. That way, your dog will get into the habit of coming to you for a treat instead of eating the repurposed food.