Dogs eat poop for a variety of reasons. Some have been inadvertently trained to do so as part of their puppy potty training, while others might have developed this habit by themselves. Eating feces is not unusual among animals, since it contains a lot of useful nutrients that can help them if they're lacking in their diets. In addition, there are a few common underlying medical issues that can lead a dog to this behavior, and you should know them all if you want to fix the issue.
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1) Pica: the craving for non-food items
Pica is a condition often seen in puppies or young dogs, where they develop an appetite for non-edible items such as metal, wood, stones and - yes - feces. This generally starts because of lack of nutrients from food or from boredom. As soon as your pooch starts eating poop instead of its regular food, give it some vitamins and try to keep its mind working. You can play interactive games with your pet or hand out chew toys so they have something else to focus on instead of the usual poop snack.
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Just like any living being, dogs are sometimes left without their daily feed. When this happens, they might resort to eating feces as a substitute for real food. If you own a puppy or a young dog that has just started eating poo, try giving less food at every meal until the habit stops altogether. Make sure that your pet always has access to fresh water at all times.
3) Malabsorption: not enough nutrients from regular diet
If your pup is experiencing malabsorption due to a poor diet, chances are they will turn to eating feces in order to get the nutrients that their body needs. When this happens, you need to change your pup's food immediately and start giving them supplements like digestive enzymes or probiotics. Your pooch will not develop an interest in stool if it is getting all the required vitamins through its meals. Use Superdog Solutions Complete Health Multivitamin to ensure they get their full supplement of daily nutritional needs.
Parasites can be another reason older dogs eat poop, especially when they have worms . This condition might also lead to diarrhea , so make sure you take your furry friend to the vet if you notice either of these symptoms together with stool-eating habits in your pet.
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5) Ulcers & gastritis
If your dog has ulcers or gastritis , then they might start eating feces as a way to cope with the pain. In this case, you need to give your pet some medications that will reduce the inflammation and make it heal a lot faster.
6) Attention-seeking behavior
Some dogs eat poop because they want attention from you. If this is your pooch's strategy to get more out of its owner, then it will take advantage of any opportunity there is to achieve what it aims for. When your dog eats poop, do not reprimand them or say no as this will only reinforce the bad habit. Try taking away something that your pooch values very much instead, such as its treats or toys . This should stop the poop-eating behavior immediately, but do not forget to provide your furry friend with something they can chew on so this habit does not get repeated again.
If your pet is left alone for long periods of time without any toys or playmates, then they might resort to eating feces out of boredom. Puppies and dogs that are not properly trained will feel like they have nothing else to do but eat their own stools rather than looking for other things to do. Do not leave your dog unattended if you want them to stop eating poop; take care of its needs and train them while playing with them regularly.
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8) Medical conditions
Finally, dogs might start eating poop due to underlying medical issues such as liver problems (which cause foul breath), intestinal worms , chronic pancreatitis, diabetes, Addison's disease, hyperthyroidism or even Alzheimer's. If your dog displays any of these symptoms together with the stool-eating habit, take them to a vet and ask about treatment options that will fix the problem and stop their poop-eating behavior.
Mistaken theory: Pregnancy hormone causes dogs to eat their own feces?
We could not find evidence that there is such a "pregnancy hormone" in female dogs' bodies after mating even though we did find references online claiming so. The smell of estrogen does increase during estrus (heat) but this has nothing to do with eating feces as pregnancy hormone should be defined if such exists. We found no studies on this subject nor expert comments except those related to pregnant women, which is clearly not the same thing.
Pregnancy hormones are important for mothers to be because they help with fetal development and growth during pregnancy. Dogs do not have menstrual cycles, let alone pregnancies that require hormone support. Therefore, there is no evidence of any sort of canine "pregnancy hormone" causing dogs to eat their own feces or others'. This is simply a myth without scientific basis.
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As you can see from some of the reasons above, eating poop can sometimes result in more serious health problems for your dog such as malnutrition, parasites and other infections like toxocariasis (which affects humans too). If you think that your pet's behavior has crossed the line into addiction , then the sooner you take action the better.
Addiction to eating feces in dogs is not generally taken too seriously by pet owners, perhaps because it is not as disgusting for human beings as it actually seems (unlike some other habits that furry friends might pick up). However, this bad habit can cause damage to your beloved pooch's health so you should try to break your dog of this unappealing practice if possible. Here are some tips on how to stop a dog from licking or eating its own stools:
Increase the amount of fiber in its diet so that stool becomes harder and your pup stops finding them appetizing;
Make sure that your dog does not spend hours without any stimulation, mental or physical;
Provide plenty of playthings and chews that will take its mind off the habit;
Give your dog a "safe" place in the house to eat without being scolded, such as a kennel.