The term for “eating poop” is coprophagia. Coprophagia is the ingestion of poop that is neither accidental nor incidental. It is deliberate and habitual. This behavior of pets has confounded and grossed out pet owners for a very long time. There does not seem to be any effective way to stop a dog from eating their own or other pet’s poop, other than immediately cleaning up any feces, keeping litter boxes spotless (as dogs do eat cat poop too). This is a behavior that no one really knows the answer too, but if you would like to read a few statistics on this behavior, read on.
In a study that included information from nearly 1,500 pet owners with dogs that had been seen eating feces daily or weekly at least 10 times. According to the survey, the top five feces-eating dog breeds were the Labrador retriever (10.4%), golden retriever (5.8%), Basset hound (5.5%), German shepherd (5.3%) and Shetland sheepdog (4.7%).
About 10% of the dogs ate only their own stool, whereas 32% ate the feces of others, and nearly half of all dogs who ate feces didn’t care who it belonged to. “Most dogs will eat any one’s feces.
Other findings included:
Female dogs were more likely than male dogs to engage in this behavior (60% vs. 40%).
The behavior does not reflect poor den sanitation: 82% of dogs in the survey almost never soiled their own house.
Almost all dogs opted for fresh feces as opposed to aged feces.
Neither behavior modification techniques nor food additives seemed to be effective in changing the behavior.
Twenty Reasons Why Your Dog Might Eat Poop:
1. Your dog might be hungry. If your dog doesn’t have access to food, he might eat poop.
2. Some dogs will eat poop to clean up an area like a housekeeper. This is most likely if your dog is confined to a crate or kennel, or when he’s chained up or otherwise restricted. He’s taking care of his space.
3. If your dog likes to carry poop, and then eat it, it could be genetics. Some dogs have instincts to carry stuff in their mouths.
4. Your dog might be eating poop because of parasites or worms. They can suck nutrients out of your dog, driving him to eat poop. It might also leave him extra hungry because of the lack of proper fuel.
5. Your dog might be eating cat poop or other animal poop to get key nutrients and minerals not available in his own food.
6. Some dogs will simply eat poop to pass the time. Dogs will eat poop because they are bored or lonely. It can be a sign of neglect.
7. Your dog might eat poop because he’s anxious, nervous or otherwise upset. Stress will drive animals to do odd things.
8. Some dogs will eat poop to hide the evidence. If you punish your dog for pooping, he might eat it to stop you from getting angry.
9. If your dog has puppies, she might eat puppy poop. This is an instinct to hide the poop from predators. Poop is evidence. Getting ride of it keeps her puppies safe.
10. Some young dogs and puppies will eat poop as a novelty. That is, they’ll eat poop as an experiment. They don’t know better.
11. If your dog watches you pick up poop, he might learn to do the same. This is called allelomimetic behavior. Your dog observes you and learns from you, by putting the poop in his mouth you put poop in a bag.
12. Your dog might see others dogs eating poop. From this, they learn to eat poop too.
13. Many dogs simply like the taste of poop. This obviously doesn’t make sense to dog owners but that’s irrelevant. Some dog like to eat it and that’s that. It’s warm, moist, and very much like what your dog was given as a very young puppy.
14. If your dog food lacks key nutrients, he might eat poop. Your dog is trying to get “food” with nutrients any way possible, even from his own poop.
15. Sometimes dog poop seems like dog food. This can happen when dog food is low quality and includes materials that are easily passed and not absorbed by your dog. When the dog poops, it seems to be very much like the food he just consumed!
16. In some cases, dogs will eat poop if they are given too much food. This is especially true if your dog’s diet is high in fat.
17. Some dogs will eat poop to gain attention. Many dog owners get very upset when their dog eats poop, which means the dog gets attention. This is a wonderful opportunity for your dog to interact with you, although it is because of negative attention.
18. It is possible that some dogs will eat the poop of other, more dominant dogs. Your dog might be more submissive than other dogs, resulting in strange poop eating behavior. This seems to occur more in households with multiple dogs where dominance and submission is a factor. Obviously this doesn’t explain much about dogs eating cat poop or other animal poop.
19. It is possible that your dog wants to eat more than one time per day. If you only feed your dog once per day, and your dog eats poop, it could be an indication they want to eat more frequently.
20. In some cases, your dog will eat poop by accident. Dogs are curious and will try to eat almost anything, including poop. Dogs explore the world through taste and smell, much more than humans.
Does your dog eat poop? If so, leave any comments about why you have tried, what worked, or what you have discovered about this unsettling behavior!