Most of the time, we see our dogs as nearly human family members. They share our living spaces, often our beds and couches, and go on adventures with us. When we catch our dogs eating poop, however, it’s a strong reminder that they are, in fact, animals! This stomach-turning habit can be managed, even broken, with some supplements, new habits and plenty of patience.
Why Dogs Eat Poop
Veterinary nutritionists have many theories as to why some dogs eat poop, but there’s no clear-cut reason why it happens. Some believe that when a dog is not absorbing enough nutrients from their food, they may crave their own excrement or that of other animals. Their food may be too difficult to break down and digest, so you might want to try a highly digestible grain-free kibble like our Doggie Solutions Super Premium Duck and Potato formula.
If your dog has intestinal parasites, they may develop a bottomless appetite, as the worms may be absorbing those much-needed nutrients. You cannot always see worms exiting your dog. They’re often not visible until after they have been killed by a dewormer, or until your dog is so sick that they are passing huge worms.
Sometimes, puppies that eat poop grow out of it by the time they have grown up. This may be due to the fact that they are no longer getting enzymes from their mother’s milk, and may be trying to build up their own gut flora.
The solution can be as simple as adding a digestive supplement to your dog’s meals, such as a probiotic or enzyme rich whole food such as green tripe. If you can’t find a fresh source of green tripe, dried tripe sticks or canned green tripe will work. Green tripe is the uncleaned, unbleached lining of a cow’s stomach. The tripe found at your grocery store does not contain the beneficial enzymes that can stop your dog from eating poop.
Why You Shouldn’t Let Your Dog Eat Poop
If your dog only eats their own poop, they will not typically get sick, though they may vomit up the poop in your home – how disgusting! Their breath will reek, and any bacteria shed in their poop can make your family sick if your dog loves to “give kisses.”
When your dog eats droppings from other animals, they can contract worms and bacterial or viral infections, particularly from wild animals. Dogs often eat cat poop because cat food is typically higher in fat and protein than dog food, making for a tempting end-result. If your cat is healthy, your dog most likely won’t get sick.
While you’re working on breaking the habit, manage your dog’s access to poop by cleaning it up immediately. You may need to put your cat’s litter box in a place only the cat can access, or try a hooded or electronic litter box that does not allow your dog to enter.
When you’re anywhere in which their will inevitably be poop, for example, at the park, do not let your dog off-lead. Teach them the “leave it” command by encouraging your dog to walk away from poop, then give them a treat when they’re successful. Avoid waiting until your dog is too close, or already eating it – shouting at your dog or forcing their mouth open will create an unpleasant experience that is unlikely to actually make them stop – they’ll just continue to do it when you’re not looking.
Do Food Add-Ins Really Stop Dogs From Eating Poop?
You may have heard advice to give your dog pineapple chunks because it will change the flavour of their poop. Pineapple does contain enzymes that benefit digestion, so it’s possible that it will work.
There are some products available that may also work to stop your dog from eating poop. Again, these add-ins have mixed results. They will not harm your dog, but they might not work. Though every dog can benefit from a digestive support supplement, your dog might actually enjoy eating poop – in which case, these won’t work.
You can also sprinkle lemon juice on your dog’s poop (or your cat’s poop, if that’s the snack of choice) to help them develop an aversion to it. However, your dog may continue to eat poop when you are not around to do this.
When To See Your Vet
Many cases of poop-eating can be managed with digestive enzymes, fast cleanup and a solid “leave-it” command. However, you may want to rule out any health issues and ensure that your dog is up-to-date on dewormers. Your vet has seen it all, and will likely have plenty of suggestions if you are not able to curb the habit on your own.