SlimDoggy Mythbuster #5 – Poop
Yes, you read that right, we’re mythbusting about poop today. We’re joining Sugar, the Golden Retriever’s Scoop that Poop blog hop – a hop dedicated to raising awareness on the importance of scooping your dog’s poop. Along with Dogster.com they’ve created a great InfoGraphic that describes all of the harmful things that happen when people leave the poop and don’t clean up after their pets.
Truth be told, the dogs would probably prefer that you leave the poop behind – it’s like a newspaper to them – telling them all about who’s come by, where they had dinner last night, etc. But we get it, it’s no myth that it can be harmful to us and to your dogs, so please scoop away.
I’m going to bust the myth about why dogs like to eat poop so much. Yes, they do, you may not want to admit that your dog eats poop, but they all do it. It might be their own, it might be another dogs, or they might be connoisseurs of rabbit, cow, horse, coyote or even bear poop. I know you’ve experienced it first hand…but why, why do they enjoy those little morsels so much – especially why do they eat their own poop?
The phenomena has a very fancy name for it – coprophagia – and I have heard a number of reasons why dogs do it:
- It tastes good.
- They are trying to hide themselves from predators or misbehavior from the owner.
- They are confined and are hungry.
- They are lacking something in their diet.
- All of the above
The reality is the answer is #5. Depending on the dog and their life situation and environment the reason they eat their stool could be anyone of those answers, or even a combination. I’ve only had two dogs with the habit – my first Lab, Maxine who I think fit in #4 group. A dog’s pancreas secretes enzymes to help them digest their food. Some dogs don’t secrete enough, so they look to supplement this deficiency with other animals feces – typically rich in these enzymes. When I altered Maxine’s diet to a higher quality food, the behavior diminished.
Maggie also eats poop – not often, but I think she does it as a lingering habit of #3. She was a breeder dog in a puppy mill and so was confined all of the time. I know she struggled to get a place at the table during mealtime (as evidenced by bite marks on her head) so I think she does it because she used to eat other dog’s poop for subsistence.
It’s also true that dogs may do it to hide themselves, or the evidence of misbehavior. Two of my dogs (Jack & Tino) back up into a bush in order to poop. They appear to be trying to hide it within the leaves of the plant. A dog who is punished for accidents in the house, may eat it to get rid of the evidence.
In order to stop the behavior, you need to think of which of these reasons might be at the root and attack it from that vantage. The simplest solution is to pick the poop up immediately – don’t leave it around for them to have access to. Educate your neighbors about the dangers, so they pick up their dog’s poop too. Post signs and poop bag dispensers at local dog walking areas. If there’s no poop around, there won’t be any for them to eat. Now, preventing your dog from eating rabbit, coyote, horse, etc. poop…well that’s a different story for a different day. I’ll have to figure it out first 😉
Here’s a couple of other good resources on the topic:
- Why Do Dogs (and Cats) Eat Poop?
- Coprophagia in Dogs – Behavior
- Why Does My Dog Eat Poop?
We’re joining the Scoop that Poop Blog Hop sponsored by Sugar, the Golden Retriever. This is the 2nd Scoop That Poop blog hop. Find some time to visit all the participants. Sugar thanks her September co-hosts The World According to Garth Riley, Oz the Terrier, Terrier Torrent, My GBGV Life, Pawsitively Pets, and Boingy Dog