Why is my dog eating poop all of a sudden? How many times have I heard that?
A dog eating poop, whether their own or other animals, is just one of those annoying, stressful and strange habits that suddenly for one reason or another your dog starts doing.
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Why does my dog eat poop all of a sudden?
Dog eating poop, or scientifically termed as coprophagia is quite a common behavior in dogs. Not surprisingly, most dogs have or will eat poop at some point in their lives. As much as we understand domestication, coprophagia is a gross and nauseating behavior.
For new dog owners, this may come off as a medical problem but it is commonly caused by behavioral factors. It is important to note that your dog may eat his poop or other pet’s poop. Why is my dog eating poop all of a sudden? If you are wondering the same, this should be an interesting piece for you.
You should be able to tell the reason behind your dog’s coprophagia through monitoring him. Below are some of the factors that influence your dog eating poop.
Factors contributing to coprophagia in dogs
Age of the dog
You might be wondering what your dog’s age has to do with this disgusting behavior. However, you have adopted a young puppy, he might be in his exploration phase. Puppies from 4-5 months can indulge in eating their own poop or other pets out of curiosity.
Even though he is bound to stop, it is not advisable to wait for him to get over it. He might not! Instead, you should address this habit as soon as possible to avoid future problems. Coprophagia is not as harmful but it can spread parasitic diseases.
It is way easier to train your puppy than it is to train an adult dog.
The environment in which your dog is exposed to is important in terms of behavior. Dogs that have lived most of their lives in different households might pick up behavior from other pets. For instance, if you recently adopted a dog from the shelter and he starts eating poop all of a sudden, you should consider checking for anxiety.
This dog might have adopted the habit at the shelter, from other dogs. Usually, puppies will tend to look up to adult dogs and pick up habits. If he has previously witnessed an older dog doing it, he might also practice the habit.
You should keep his place as clean as possible and pick up his waste. This way, there will be no poop to eat which will curb the habit. If you have a cat or any other pet, you should also make sure to dispose of their waste as well.
You should potty-train your dog to make it easy for you to pick up his waist as soon as he eliminates. Training him to stop eating poop is also an important step to curbing the behavior.
Most people get tempted to punish their dogs, especially after they have accidentally soiled your house. This is an ineffective way to curb undesirable behavior in dogs. Instead, you should train your dog relentlessly and consistently until he stops indulging in the behavior.
However, if you have an old dog that has started eating poop all of a sudden, you should check with your vet. This could be as a result of dog dementia which makes your dog forget routines. For instance, your dog could have an accident from dementia and to avoid punishment, he will eat his poop.
In this case, you should be patient with your dog and get him medical help. It is unusual for a trained dog to start coprophagia all of a sudden. You should create time and keep training your dog if he has dementia.
Our dogs are naturally animals that used to live in the wild where they had to protect and fetch for themselves. In the wild, dogs would eat poop to get rid of the odor which may attract predators. Sometimes, these animal instincts might also influence your dog to do the same at home.
Dogs, especially recent mothers, will also eat too as a way to clean up after her puppies. To prevent this, you should make sure that the puppies are always cleaned after. You should also pick their waste as soon as you can.
This is why you should come up with a scheduled feeding routine to predict their pooping time. For young puppies, that should be fed 3-4 times a day, they eliminate about 15 minutes after eating. Older dogs should be fed at least twice a day and eliminate after about 30 minutes after feeding.
This is a common cause of dog eating poop all of a sudden. If your dog does not digest and absorb nutrient into the bloodstream, you might be dealing with malabsorption. This makes him eliminate undigested foods which might make him want to eat it right back. He will do this in efforts to get these nutrients.
This is commonly caused by a lack of digestive enzymes that help the process of absorption. These digestive enzymes can be found in your dog’s prey. However, domestication has led to the need to feed commercial and processed foods to our dogs.
In the wild, your dog would be hunting for prey, which means he will eat raw foods. Your dog will likely eat everything, including guts and intestines. These foods will give your dog the missing enzymes, unlike the commercial foods. It is important to note that your dog may not be able to produce these enzymes on his own as we do.
If your dog has recently started engaging in poop eating, you should consider adjusting his diet. You may use vitamins and other dietary supplements to make up for the enzymes.
Like mentioned earlier, your dog may eat poop as a result of underlying fear or anxiety. You can observe this if your dog suddenly changes his behaviors. For instance, if you have never had this problem before with your dog, what are the recent changes that may contribute to coprophagia?
Normally, anxiety in dogs can be caused by loneliness or fear. The only way to curb coprophagia caused by anxiety is to identify the stimuli. Your dog might be afraid of your guest, or other pets at your home, especially if you have a fierce older and bigger dog.
Once you identify the reason behind his anxiety, you can take measures to correct the behavior. For instance, you can separate him from the other pets and let them socialize only when he wants to. If his anxiety comes from being alone at home, you can train him how to be home alone without anxiety.
However, if you are dealing with a new puppy, you should take more steps to help him adjust. Training him not to eat poop is vital. You can curb loneliness by bringing him to your bed at night, training his routines as well as exercising him.
He likes it
Most dogs will eat poop simply because it is available and he likes it. This leads to chronic poop eaters which can be a problematic behavior and even spread diseases to us. If your dog has suddenly made his and other pet’s poop a delicacy, it is time to take action.
My dog is eating poop all of a sudden, what should I do?
This is probably the most common question surrounding coprophagia. However, the good news is that you can always correct the behavior using several methods. These methods include;
Training is the most effective way of getting your dog to stop eating poop, among other undesirable behaviors. Training your dog out of coprophagia is not as easy as it sounds right here. This is due to the consistency you have to maintain before he gets to stop completely.
You can start by identifying the cause of coprophagia in your dog. For instance, if your dog has anxiety issues leading to eating poop habit, you should address the anxiety first. What makes your dog anxious? What is it that he is afraid of at home? These are some of the questions you should focus on when treating coprophagia.
If your dog eats poop when he is lonely, you can take some time and train him how to stay alone. You can do this by desensitization. This means exposing your dog to the stimuli until he gets accustomed to it. For example, you can make him stay in another room all alone for a few minutes and reward him whenever he does not try to distract himself.
Alternatively, you can teach him a few commands that will make it easy for you to stop the behavior. These commands include but to limited to ‘stop,’ ‘leave it,’ and ‘don’t.’ Once your dog learns how these commands work, you should not have a problem getting him to stop eating poop.
Whenever you are training your dog, always note that he loves pleasing you. Whenever your dog notices that you do not like it when he does something, he is bound to stop. However, other dogs will use that against you! Your dog might actually eat poop to get you to react. In such a case, you may consider spending more time with him and play with him.
Potty-training is also another effective way to deal with coprophagia. Your dog will always eliminate in the potty which makes it easier to clean. This way, you can always dispose of his waste right after he releases himself.
Make poop undesirable
As mentioned earlier, your dog might be engaging in coprophagia simply because he likes it. This is not good as it might make it harder to deal with the vice. It is like trying to stop a toddler from doing something he simply enjoys to do. Almost impossible, right?
However, you can make him stop desiring poop by making it impossible for him to eat. You can use food additives that make poop smell bad and thus discouraging coprophagia. You can also add chili to the poop to make him keep off the latter.
This is one of the most effective ways of curbing coprophagia in dogs.
We have already talked about loneliness and stress causing your dog anxiety. Exercising him is a great way to keep him healthy but it also makes sure that your dog is occupied for the day. Morning and evening walks will leave your dog exhausted with no room for boredom or loneliness. He is likely to take a nap after a long walk.
Exercising is also a good way to help your dog deal with stress that may cause him anxiety. Make sure that your dog is well fed, taken care of and happy.
Check their diet
We discussed earlier the dietary deficiency that may lead to your dog eating poop. If this is the case, you should consult your vet on some of the foods you should be giving to your dog. You may want to feed him foods with more fiber and roughage to help his digestion.
If your dog has a digestive enzyme deficiency, consider taking him to the vet for conclusive results. The vet will be able to recommend the necessary dietary changes you should make for your dog. You can substitute commercial dog food with homemade foods for your dog. Some of these foods might include beef stew, rice with veggies, chicken etc.
However, you should be sure that your dog is not allergic to the above-mentioned foods.
You can use this method to train your dog out of the habit of eating poop by getting your dog’s attention from the latter. For instance, whenever your dog is about to eat poop, get his attention. You can be able to do this through offering a treat instead or making him get a ball or bone.
For dogs that are abnormally hungry, you may consider leaving him food while leaving your house.
You can train your dog to only poop in a specific place where he is not allowed to stay thereafter. You can always combine this to potty training and it will be effective in eliminating the behavior. Dogs are good at adjusting and following rules and routines.
Coprophagia is common in dogs but that does not mean we should allow it. It could be harmful to your dog in that he might contract internal parasites from feeding on other animal’s poop. However, it should not be difficult to train your dog out of the habit. You can be able to control this behavior using the above-discussed methods.
Training has been the most effective method to get your dog to stop just about any behavior. You can do it yourself or get a dog trainer to do it for you.