Ask the Expert: Why Does My Dog Eat Poop?
As much as we like to think of our dogs as perfect, angelic beings, sometimes they have habits and behaviors that are a little — well, icky. You may have noticed that your precious pup sometimes goes a little off-menu and starts eating (there’s no nicer way to say it) poop. We turned to our vet expert Dr. Leslie and behaviorist Dr. Jill to shed some light on why dogs can have this less than savory habit.
They’re trying new things
Ever noticed your dog rooting around in the cat litter box? Dr. Jill says, “This could be because cat food is very tasty; hence cat poop is very tasty.” She speculates that dogs “evolved as scavengers, and poop has nutrients without the work of hunting.” To combat this scavenging, try keeping the litter box in a room that Fido can’t get into.
Dr. Leslie cites an article, which says that in some rare cases dogs eat feces as a way to correct a nutritional imbalance. According to this article, some sicknesses, like chronic pancreatic deficiency and malabsorption syndrome, cause lots of food to pass through a dog’s body without being digested. Thus a dog may eat his poop in an attempt to get some of the nutrients back into his body. However, Dr. Leslie is quick to point out that this kind of poop eating is extremely rare, and you should take your dog to the vet if he shows any signs of illness.
Dogs can express anxiety and discomfort in a lot of different ways, and Dr. Leslie thinks eating poop could be one of them. Make sure your dog has plenty of other things to placate him when he feels nervous, such as a chew toy, so he doesn’t resort to eating what he shouldn’t.
In general, dogs won’t suffer adverse health effects from occasionally “ordering from the poo-poo platter,” but it’s certainly not pleasant to behold. Keep a close eye on your furry friend to make sure he isn’t eating anything he shouldn’t. Have a question for the doctors? Ask below!
About Dr. Jill and Dr. Leslie:
Dr. Jill Villarreal (left) lives and breathes all things pet. A doctor of Biology, Behavior and Neuroscience (with a certificate in Animal Behavior), Jill is Senior Manager of Pet Sensory & Perception Insights over at Big Heart Pet Brands.
Dr. Leslie Hancock-Monroe (right) has been a top veterinarian for 15 years, and currently heads up Big Heart Pet Brands’ Nutrition and Scientific Affairs Department.
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