Why does my dog eat poop?

Published on February 28, 2013 by in Blog

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Recently I was pet sitting in Gilbert when one of the dogs managed to have a poop appetizer before I could get to him. Whether or not you are a dog sitter, dogs eating poop is just *gross*!  I love to learn about new things, especially as it relates to my job as a pet sitter, so I jumped online and did some research to find out… just why DO dogs eat poop.

Turns out the first thing you need to do is eliminate any possible health related connections. Eating poop, otherwise known as coprophagia, can be caused by intestinal parasites, pancreatitis, or because the dogs aren’t absorbing enough nutrients in their diets. All of these should be ruled out by a vet. I strongly encourage you to talk to your vet initially regarding this behavior if your dog does this on a regular basis.

OK you took your dog in to the vet and your dog is healthy, that’s not why she eats poop; now what? Well, she could’ve learned the behavior from you. WHAT?! I don’t eat poop! Of course you don’t! But your pup has seen you picking up the poop in the yard and dogs are great mimickers. They learn by watching. Maybe Fido has learned this behavior at the dog park watching other dogs eat poop. If it’s good enough for that dog, it’s good enough for me they think. (We never said dogs were the most logical of animals.) 🙂

Another reason they might eat poop is because they’re cleaning their house. They don’t like to lay in a dirty den (space) so to keep it clean, they’ll eat it. Mother dogs especially may do this in her puppies area and then of course it’s reinforcing that behavior in the puppy.

Still another reason dogs may eat poop is because of the attention they get from their owners. As soon as I saw the little guy scarfing the poop I ran over as fast as I could calling his name. By the time I got to him, yup, he ran away again and it was eaten. YAY, a new game, he was thinking. Negative attention is better than no attention to dogs. Along these lines, if you have scolded a dog for pooping in the house and he does it again, in order not to get yelled at or caught the dog may try to get rid of it by eating it.

I think we can all agree, dogs eating poop gives most people the shivers, but it’s important to try to determine why your dog is doing it and then work on curbing the behavior.

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