Why is my dog eating poop all of a sudden? That’s the big question.
Your dog changes over its life and just like us will suddenly start new and annoying habits.
Probably the most disturbing habit of all is when your dog starts eating poop all of a sudden. It can be disgusting and worrying when this starts happening.
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If your dog has suddenly developed the habit of eating poop, you are not alone in this battle.
Most dog owners go to the vet, worried with one question, “Why is my dog eating poop all of a sudden?” In most cases, the vet will not be able to point out the immediate cause or reason as to why your canine companion is adopting this gross habit.
Most dogs develop the habit of eating their own poop or different pets poop at some point in their life. However, your dog might suddenly start this behavior, and it might indicate mild or severe underlying medical or psychological issues.
The habit of eating poop can be determined depending on the dog and the condition they are in. Some of the main causes of your dog eating poop include:
If your dog has recently been exposed to stress-causing situations, he might develop poop-eating behavior. Due to the modern lifestyle, we have to go spend each day at work, while our dog patiently waits for us at home. They get lonely, and the fact that you locked him in the house, with nothing to do all day until you return.
Loneliness and anxiety will be a part of your dog’s life for these reasons. Some dogs might engage in eating poop when they are bored or feel anxious. This is a common habit in confined dogs and overcrowded shelters. They are usually seeking a distraction from the situation causing them stress or fear.
Your dog might develop the habit of eating poop to clean up its nest or kennel. This is common with nursing dogs, which will eat its poop as well as that of his puppies to clean up after them. As we like to live in clean and hygienic places, so do our dogs.
A dog will have instincts to take care of its puppies just like how a mother does with her child. Your dog will feel responsible to protect her young ones, and he might eat poop to remove the odor where her puppies sleep.
This is because as much as we have domesticated dogs, they are still animals with animal instincts. If she were in the forest, she would do the same to keep predators off her puppies’ den.
iii) Picked behavior
This is common with nursing puppies and related to the above point. Puppies, like children, will learn everything they know from their parents or older dogs around them. When a puppy watches his mother eat poop to clean up or for whatever reason, he is most likely to start the behavior as well.
If your dog suddenly develops the habit of eating poop all of a sudden, you should be vigilant and pay attention to the frequency and situations that expose him to doing so. Even though coprophagia has been linked to behavioral vices, it can also be an indication of underlying medical problems.
To be able to determine whether your dog is eating poop all of a sudden as a result of underlying medical issues, you will have to visit the vet. Through physical examination and tests, the vet will be able to advise accordingly.
Below are some of the health problem you should look out for if your dog has suddenly started eating poop;
Digestive enzyme deficiency.
Unlike the human body that can produce enough digestive enzymes to assist with the absorption and metabolism, our canine friends do not have this ability. Instead, dogs are supposed to get these enzymes from their food.
However, through domestication, we feed commercial dog food to our pups. Even though they are safe to consume, these foods lack the natural source of digestive enzymes which will lead to malabsorption.
The lack of digestive enzymes will make it hard for your dog to break down food into nutrients required by his body. This might lead to the loss of weight as well as poor health. If your dog has suddenly started eating poop, you should be vigilant and observe his behavior.
Other than coprophagia, your dog might be suffering from enzyme deficiency if the habit is accompanied by other symptoms such as diarrhea, dehydration, change in behavior, and frequent need to relieve itself.
Enzyme deficiency is closely related to exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), thyroid disease and diabetes in dogs. Let us look at Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency in detail below.
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Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency.
EPI is a condition caused by a lack of enough digestive enzymes in your dog’s body, which means that your dog is lacking some necessary nutrients. Due to this, he might poop undigested nutrients that he is craving, which will lead to the need to eat his poop right back.
This will need you to take your dog to the vet in order to find out for sure if she has EPI. Often, eating poop will be accompanied by frequent diarrhea, stomach rumbling, vomiting as well as weight loss. However, this condition can be treated with dietary supplements as well as adopt giving your dog home-cooked meals for some time.
Sometimes your dog will develop the habit of eating poop when he is alone. To be able to notice this behavior, you will have to monitor him closely. If you leave your dog home alone for long periods of time, he might start eating poop to distract himself.
We all know our dogs miss us when we go away for days without them seeing us. This can create separation whereby he wants your company. Dogs understand and feel love when we spend time and play with them, or even feed them.
Are they anxious?
Your dog is used to being with you, and when you are gone, he might be depressed and anxious.
Your dog might start eating poop as a mechanism to cope with loneliness when left unsupervised. This will require you to free up and spend more time with him, and train him to curb that behavior. Some dogs will stop eating poop as soon as they are occupied and get back to being with you.
He might also adopt that behavior because it excites him and also gets your attention. Annoying, right? But if your pup suddenly starts developing this habit, you should not yell at him. Instead, try to understand what underlying issues he might be having.
Even as we associate coprophagia to other health problems, it is important to note that most of these habits are related to the diet of your dog. Your vet will recommend the correct dietary supplements to use in order to curb the enzyme deficiency as well as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.
Underfeeding is also known for promoting poop eating behavior. It is important to have a schedule for feeding your dog, and also know the required nutrients for a healthy and happy dog. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials, your dog’s diet should include the following:
• 18-22% of proteins
• 5-8% crude fat
• 1-0.6% Calcium
• 1% Linoleic Acid
You should also consider vitamin supplements among others to prevent and deal with enzyme deficiency in dogs. Your goal will be to get your dog to have a healthy digestion system and also stress-free.
If your dog has suddenly developed the need to eat poop, or you have just noticed, it is also important to have the vet test for parasites. Your pup might eat poop and end up getting an infection as a result of consuming poop from an infected dog.
These parasites will attach themselves in the intestines and they will absorb nutrients from the digested food. This means that nutrients are not absorbed into the bloodstream. Dogs suffering parasitic infections will develop coprophagia, in efforts to get more nutrients.
Hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms.
The above-named parasites can be life-threatening to your dog, and also cause coprophagia, even though the latter is the cause of the parasites in the first place. If you have puppies, you should be extra careful to keep them from parasites.
Hookworms are dangerous especially to your puppies. They suck blood to cause internal bleeding which may require your puppy to have a blood transfusion. Puppies are mostly affected by hookworms since they can contract it from nursing.
Adult dogs who eat poop might also contract hookworms which will make their health deteriorate. Nursing mothers should be tested and treated to avoid transmission to their puppies. Hookworms can also be transmitted through the skin.
Symptoms of hookworms in dogs.
Hookworms actually endanger your dog’s life. If you are still wondering ‘why is my dog eating poop all of a sudden,’ you may consider having him tested for hookworms. The habit of eating poop puts him at risk of getting the hookworms.
If coprophagia is accompanied by other symptoms including coughing, loss of appetite resulting in malnutrition, diarrhea, and bloody stool, there is a possibility your dog has hookworms.
The good news is, you can prevent and also treat hookworms in your dog. Your vet may recommend medication for him to eliminate hookworms in the intestines.
However, treatment must be continued in order to kill the larvae moving in the bloodstream.
You should also observe cleanliness and pick up any still to prevent your dog from eating poop. You should also teach your dog to avoid consuming rodents or other animals.
Roundworms in dogs.
These are also deadly as they are able to live and mature in your dog’s intestines. They are even more dangerous when you have puppies as they are quite susceptible to roundworms. Your puppy might get these worms from licking around and eating poop, usually from another dog.
The greatest challenge that comes with roundworms is the reduction of growth. No matter how well you feed your dog, if he has roundworm he might never show any signs of growth. Other signs of roundworms include general body weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of weight.
If you have noticed the habit of your dog eating poop, you should take preventive measures as soon as possible. However, you can treat roundworms in your dog by use of deworming medication.
You may consider talking to your vet for the correct dosage for your dog.
Why is my dog eating poop all of a sudden? What can I do?
When you notice that your dog has adopted the horrible habit of eating poop suddenly, the first thing you should do is take preventive measures. This will need you to observe your dog and try to figure out the underlying cause of this gross behavior.
As mentioned earlier, coprophagia is can be caused by several factors including stress, anxiety, learned behavior or medical causes. Correcting the habit requires training and probably a visit to the vet’s office. For instance, if you have a puppy that has suddenly started eating poop, it could be he has learned the behavior from the mother.
Potty training your dog.
potty training is one of the most effective measures dog owners take when they notice the disgusting behavior. This will need you to have patience and invest time in training him until he can understand that he is not supposed to poop anywhere.
During potty training, you can restrict your puppy from access the entire house so as he does not poop and eat it to avoid upsetting you. It is also important to note that punishment does not reinforce appropriate behavior. Instead, it will make it worse as your dog will relieve itself and eat the poop to avoid being punished.
If your dog seems stressed and anxious lately, you may consider increasing the time to play with him and make him feel at ease. You can also devise ways to distract him from poop eating behavior like getting him toys to play with when you are away from home.
In the case where your dog has other symptoms discussed in this article, you should visit your vet for a medical examination. You should always make sure that you keep a healthy and happy dog. It is also important to watch your dog’s diet and make sure it has all the necessary nutrients he needs.
My final thoughts.
Dogs will consume their poop or the latter from a different dog for several reasons. In fact, most dogs will display this behavior at some point in their life.
As his companion and friend, you are supposed to take care of him, emotionally as well as physically. In the case where your dog looks emaciated, you may consider the possibility that he has worms.
Always make sure that your dog is happy and well-kept at all times to promote the correct behavior.