My dogs likes to eat poo when they go to the park. It started off with one dog, and now the other dog has picked up the habit. They don’t seem to eat their own poo at home. I don’t like it, but is it bad for them to eat it? And how do I break the habit?
A. There are many reasons why your dogs would be eating poo. Whilst we humans see it as disgusting, however dogs do not see poo the same way as we do. A dog’s sense of smell is stronger and more defined than ours. Whilst we may smell only one scent in poo, a dog could smell the components – the food that has been undigested, what the diet was made of, and any nutrients that were not absorbed. So why do they eat it and how can we break the habit? Read on for why and how you can stop your dog’s ‘dirty’ habit:
Lack of Nutrition
This is the most common cause of many dogs eating poo. Your dog’s natural diet in the wild is to eat the entire prey, including the offal, and the contents of their gut. Eating the whole prey gives your dog the enzymes they need to digest and absorb nutrients. Feeding your dog a commercial diet or an unbalanced raw diet can lead your dog to look for the missing nutrients and enzymes in poo. Lack of nutrition can lead to health conditions later on such as vitamin or mineral deficiencies.
Feeding your dog a balanced healthy diet will prevent them from developing any deficiencies, which could lead to medical conditions later on. Commercial diets do not have much nutrient left in them due to the rigorous processes they are put through in production. A balanced raw food diet is the closest you can get to replicate the wild for your dog. A good mix of bone, offal, meats, vegetables and fruit will give your dog everything they need to be fulfilled and healthy. Take your dog to a holistic vet or an animal naturopath whom can help you create the right diet for your dog. If you miss any components from their diet, you may find your dog looking for that poo again.
Depending on the type of diet you feed your dog; if he is not being fed enough he will go looking for other sources of sustenance such as hunting prey in the backyard, scavenging in the dirt and also looking for cat poo. Cat poo contains lots of undigested protein, which makes it really tasty to your dog.
Not feeling full can be from the lack of nutrition or the portion size you are feeding your dog. Getting your dog’s diet on the right track will help to keep your dog full and satisfied.
If your dog doesn’t usually eat poo and has just started the habit, it is possible there may be an underlying health condition that your dog is trying to supplement. Your dog may have parasites or a health condition that prevents him from absorbing his food.
If you notice any other symptoms that have emerged when your dog started eating poo, it is best to take them to the vet and get some tests done for any deficiencies or other health conditions.
There is also the simple reason that your dog has seen another dog eating poo at the park or on a walk, and your dog thought to try it out, he liked it and continued to do so. Habit usually starts with some need to be fulfilled, so it is possible your dog may have one of the factors above as well as developing the habit.
Your dog’s habit can be corrected with behavioural training, teaching your dog to leave it when you are out on a walk and also in the park.
Unfortunately, this can be your dog’s way of letting you know they are bored, or not getting enough stimulation and exercise. Your dog needs some stimulation when waiting for you to go for outings. Your dog knows if he eats that poo he may get the attention he is looking for.
Make the time to take your dog out for more walks, or provide some interactive toys such as treat balls. Another way of stimulating your dog is to scatter their meal or treats around the backyard. It will encourage your dog to forage and work their brain to find the food.
Finally, keeping your yard clean and picking up all poo regularly will reduce your dog’s habit of eating poo. Maintaining your dog’s healthy diet and giving them plenty of fun and stimulation will keep your dog happy and fulfilled.