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Hi everyone, I wanted to introduce you to the new puppy I brought home yesterday!
This is Arlo and he's a Spanish Water Dog.
To commemorate the occasion I thought I'd bring you guys a dog-themed Gross Science.
And it just so happens that someone on YouTube recently asked me a gross question about dogs.
So, Joe Frailey on YouTube asked (and I'm paraphrasing here)
“Why do dogs sometimes eat poop?”
Why do you guys sometimes do that?
We'll find out.
I'm Anna Rothschild, and this is Gross Science.
So, let me begin by saying that lots of dogs will eat poop at some point in their lives.
Mother dogs will actually often eat their puppies' poop, and some scientists believe
this could be a behavioral adaptation to avoid parasites in the wild.
You see, most dogs, and other carnivores, will poop away from their dens, so they don't
come into contact with larval parasites in their feces, accidentally reinfecting themselves
and increasing their parasite load.
But puppies can't leave the den, so mothers will often eat their puppies' fresh feces
before the parasite eggs inside the poop become infectious.
Puppies will often mimic this behavior, but most will grow out of it by adulthood.
That said, according to the American Kennel Club, about 16 percent of dogs are “serious
stool eaters.」
Coprophagia is the technical term for the act of eating poop, and adult dogs will do
it for a variety of reasons.
To begin with, it could be related to nutrition.
A dog might just not be getting enough of a particular nutrient in its diet.
Also, according to a 1988 paper, the dog could have a condition that causes food to pass through it before it's been digested
—so the dog eats its poop to recoup the lost nutrients.
So, you should definitely see your vet to determine if the cause of your dog's coprophagia
could be related to his or her health.
Alternatively, the coprophagia could be due to anxiety or environmental stress.
For example, according to the American Kennel Club, if a dog is severely punished when it
poops in the wrong place, it might get the wrong idea and assume it was punished because
it was pooping.
So in the future, it may eat its feces to hide the evidence.
Or, depending on the circumstances, eating poop could be an attention-getting behavior.
Another idea is that the dog may have an inappropriate association with the scent of poop.
Perhaps the dog is fed close to where it goes to the bathroom, so it begins to equate the
scent of poop with food.
Or perhaps it associates the smell with its mother, who as I mentioned, may have eaten
its poop, or licked its behind to encourage it to go to the bathroom when it was young.
Unfortunately, there's not a ton you can do to keep your dog from eating poop.
The best strategy is just to swoop in as quickly as you can and clean up the mess before your
pooch has a chance to get into it.
Some people recommend treating the dog's food with meat tenderizers, or baiting the
poop with something unsavory, like tabasco sauce, but I've heard conflicting reports
about the effectiveness of those methods.
Above all, don't make a huge fuss if your dog does eat poop, because it might just reinforce
an attention-getting behavior, so just try to stay calm.
And remember, you know, if your dog eats a little of his or her own poop, it probably
won't get sick.
But I know that doesn't really help.
It's still totally disgusting.
I hope you don't ever eat your own poop.
Ew.
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Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

332 Folder Collection
jasicko published on August 20, 2018
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