As pet owners, we’re always surprised by their personalities, habits and strange behaviors. But perhaps the most odd on our “Why do you DO that?” list is our pets’ habits of eating other animal poop. Yep – you can think AND say it: “Ewww.” But despite its “That’s so gross!” factor, there are reasons pets eat animal poop!
Coprophagia – otherwise known as the eating of animal feces – is a very common behavior in animals – especially dogs. While it’s not entirely known why animals eat other animal poop, however, it’s believed poor nutritional health, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies are the primary reasons.
However, if your dog is a nursing mother, it’s quite common for her to eat her puppies’ poop. Mothers lick and groom their puppies to foster proper defecation habits and will eat the feces to keep the nest clean and deter predators. This instinctive behavior is often passed on to pups, who generally “grow out of it” by 6 months old.
So, how do I stop my dog from eating poop?
While eating poop is a normal, investigative pooch behavior, that doesn’t mean it’s a desirable one. To help reduce your dog’s poop consumption, always clean up after your dog – especially in households with multiple dogs. Never punish your dog for eating animal poop, because to him, he’s not doing anything “wrong.” That being said, he could ingest harmful toxins or foreign substances digested by other animals, so this behavior should be avoided at all costs. A simple “Leave it!” cue – like you use in other instances, such as chewing socks or the couch cushions – will suffice.
If your dog receives a highly nutritional diet and continues to eat other animals’ poop despite proper redirection, contact your veterinarian for a proper physical assessment – there could be an underlying medical condition that needs attention!
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