why do dogs eat their own poop

Of all the repulsive behaviors our dogs have — drinking from the toilet, rolling in swamp muck, and licking their butts — nothing disgusts owners more than contemplating why their dogs consume feces. Their intent may not be to disgust us humans, but it certainly has that effect. In fact, the discovery that a dog consumes feces is frequently cited as a reason for people to rehome or even euthanize a dog.

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why do dogs eat their own poop

Coprophagia is the scientific term for this behavior, and there are both behavioral and physiological reasons why some canines consider feces a delicacy. Don't despair if you own an excrement eater. There are methods to discourage the behavior, as well as over-the-counter remedies. Poop-eating is a comparatively common behavior in dogs, despite the fact that science has conducted few studies on the subject. In a 2012 study presented at the annual conference of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, UC Davis researchers led by Dr. Benjamin Hart discovered:

16 percent of dogs, or one in six, are considered "serious" dog poop eaters because they were captured in the act five times.
24 percent of the dogs in the study, or one in four, were observed eating feces at least once. Hart wrote, "Our conclusion is that eating fresh stools is a reflection of an innate predisposition of ancestral canids living in nature that protects pack members from intestinal parasites present in feces that could occasionally be dropped in the den/rest area." It is in a dog's genetic makeup to consume poop.

The research comprised of two separate questionnaires sent to approximately 3,000 dog owners. While eating feces is revolting to human sensibilities, it's not so terrible from a dog's perspective. Dogs evolved as scavengers, consuming whatever they could find on the ground or in the garbage, so their conceptions of haute cuisine differ from ours. Steven R. Lindsay, an animal behaviorist, writes in his Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training that coprophagia "may be one of several palatable survival behaviors that have evolved in response to periodic starvation." In other words, when food is limited, it is impossible to be selective.


Is it common for a dog to eat his own poop?

For certain species, such as rabbits, consuming feces is a normal means of obtaining essential nutrients. In fact, if you prevent rabbits from doing this, they will acquire health issues and their young will not thrive. Fortunately, canines do not require this method of nutrition. However, eating feces is a normal, natural canine behavior at certain phases of life.

During the first three weeks after birth, mothers will lick their offspring to encourage elimination and will consume their feces. Puppies will naturally indulge in this behavior, consuming their own feces (autocoprophagia), the feces of other dogs (allocoprophagia), and the feces of cats and other animals. Some canines find equine feces and goose droppings especially appetizing. If the stool is contaminated with parasites, viruses, or toxins, eating feces from other animals can cause health problems. Typically, this behavior will disappear before the infant reaches approximately nine months of age.

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