Having a dog in your life can be a wonderful adventure. It seems that they just bring so much happiness to our lives that we couldn’t ever imagine living without them. In some cases, they are a constant source of love and companionship but that doesn’t stop them from doing some gross things from time to time.
One of the habits that tend to set dogs apart from humans is eating poop. Yeah, lots of dogs do it but when our dog does it, we might get a little concerned. Officially, it is known as coprophagia but whatever you want to call it, it is pretty nasty. When we yell to get our dogs to stop doing it, they typically just look at us with a bewildered expression as if to say, “What? Everyone does it.”
You might be surprised (and somewhat relieved) to learn that it is a common behavior of many dogs. About 23% to be exact, but not all of them dine on number 2 as often as the rest. Out of that number, 16% are guilty of doing it more than 6 times and the other 7% have only been caught doing it up to 5 times.
What was your reaction when you saw your dog doing it for the first time? More than likely, you thought twice before accepting too many doggy kisses on that day. Like anything that our dogs do, however, we soon get over it and the memory fades.
Then we see them doing it again.
At this point, I’m sure you have a lot of questions about why dogs do this and what you can do to make them stop. Let’s turn to the experts on the subject and find out.
Why do dogs eat poop?
Gary Richter, M.S., D.V.M. is a canine health expert and has something to say on the subject. Unfortunately, the answer is, they don’t really know.
What he does know is; dogs get hungry and sometimes, it is just the most convenient meal. Other dogs might seem like they actually enjoy that particular meal, which is somewhat disturbing to their humans.
“Assuming the dog is eating an appropriately balanced diet – meaning basically any commercially available brand – nutritional deficiencies leading to coprophagia are very unlikely. In truth, eating feces is almost exclusively a behavioral issue rather than a physical one.”
The University of California-Davis also has something to say on the subject”
– Hounds and terriers are the most likely offenders.
– If there is more than 1 dog in the household, it is more likely to happen.
– Dogs that eat their own poop tend to prefer it when it is fresh. They don’t typically eat poop that is more than 2 days old.
– Dogs that tend to gobble down their dog chow quickly are also more likely to be poop eaters.
What are the risks?
There is no doubt that dogs eating poop is disgusting but is it bad for them? The answer; it depends.
Michel Selmer, D.V.M., a licensed veterinarian in New York says that it is a harmless practice when they are eating their own poop. If they eat the poop of other animals, however, it could be a problem. They may get diseases or parasites from ‘strange poop’.
If your dog is guilty of this practice you might want to have things checked. A veterinarian can check for health issues, such as poor diet, parasites, diabetes and side effects of medication.
How do you help them break the habit
One of the most important things you can do to help coax your dog from this habit is to clean up the poop. It doesn’t matter if it is their own poop or the poop of another animal, cleaning it up will eliminate the issue.
What do you do if the dog does it when they are on a walk? Richter explains: “Coprophagia is a crime of opportunity. A well-trained dog will always check with their owner before stepping out of line.”
Keeping your pet on a tighter leash will help to control the problem.
You might also want to look into some of the products on the market that are designed to curb coprophagia. These include tablets and food additives but, according to some reviews, don’t expect a miracle.
It might be a disgusting habit but it is a common habit. With some work on your part, you might be able to help your dog overcome the habit and accept those doggy kisses again.