Why Does My Dog Eat Poop? Your Carmel Veterinarian Explains

Why Does My Dog Eat Poop?  Your Carmel Veterinarian Explains

We love our dogs and they love us.  We give them hugs, and they lick us in the face.  This makes it really disgusting to later see them eating poop.  Yuck!  This is a relatively common behavior problem I see in dogs.  A question I often hear as a Carmel veterinarian is:  “Why does my dog eat their own poop and the feces of other animals?”

Although is not known exactly why dog eat feces, two reasons exist that explain this gross behavior in dogs called croprophagia.  The first is a learned behavior from their mother.  When a mother dog has a litter of puppies, she keeps them clean by licking them.  She will also ingest their feces to keep the den area clean.  Some dogs may learn this poop eating behavior by watching them mother perform this chore.  The other reason that some dog will eat feces is the combination of curiosity and scavenging.  Puppies are naturally curious about their environment and they will scavenge around for any potential food source.  Many dogs will continue to eat feces as part of instinct.

There is no good evidence that supports dog who eat poop are lacking in some nutritional requirement.  Although dogs who are hungry are more likely to eat feces.  As a Carmel veterinarian, I always recommend meal feeding dogs twice a day a measured amount of dog food.  Another complication with croprophagia is our reaction to it.  The extra attention we give our dogs when they eat feces can actually be a positive reinforcement that makes them do it again in the future.

“Besides being disgusting, does eating poop cause any medical problems for my dog?”  The most common complication for dog’s eating their own poop as well as the feces of other animals is developing diarrhea from intestinal parasites.  Some of these intestinal worms can even be transmissible to people.  You should take your dog to your Carmel veterinarian at least once a year for perform a check for these intestinal parasites.  The best way to keep your entire family safe is prevention.  If you give your dog their once a month heartworm medication, these are usually combined with a once a month dewormer.

“How do you stop a dog from eating poop?”  Since croprophagia can develop into a bad habit, it can be difficult to stop the behavior completely.  I recommend the following steps to help reduce and stop a dog from eating feces.  1.  Clean up the yard of feces.  2.  Keep a leash on during walk to prevent eating feces of other animals.  3.  Train your dog to come with a high value food reward.  Once you have mastered the come command, train your dog to come after they defecate.  4.  If these simple techniques are not effectively alone, then schedule an appointment with your Carmel veterinarian.  I can prescribe a medication you add to the food that makes the feces taste extremely awful to your dog.

Because croprophagia often becomes a bad habit, it often takes some time to completely eliminate the behavior.  Follow these steps to avoid a trip to your Carmel veterinarian and hopefully a more pleasant face-licking experience from your dog!  For more information on our Caring Hands Compassionate Hearts, click on this link to your Carmel Veterinarian..