In some species of animals, such as rabbits, eating feces is a perfectly common way to get essential nutrients. At several stages in a dog‘s life, it is also a natural behavior. For example, sometimes female dogs eat their puppies feces out of instinct. By doing this, animals protect their location, to prevent predators.
As puppies grow up, they are interested in the environment, smelling everything, but there are also those who want to taste everything. Unfortunately, eating other animal feces can cause health problems if feces are contaminated with parasites, viruses or toxins. In this article we will discuss dog poop eating habits and how to stop it.
Why Do Dogs Like Feces?
The world of dogs is a bit different than ours – they sniff each other‘s butts, feces and urine give them a lot of information, feces can be a great delicacy. From a human point of view, eating feces is just a nasty habit, but it is quite natural for dogs. There are many theories as to why dogs eat feces, but they can be divided into two general groups:
1. Behavioral problems
In most cases, dog eat their own poop due to stress or behavioral factors. For example:
- Anxiety: if you use punishment or harsh methods for pooping at home, then your Australian Shepherd might be frightened and eat poop to hide the clues.
- The smell of feces is not attractive to humans, but to animals, it might smell attractive due to the flavor enhancers in their food.
- Wrong distance between food and feces: if you feed your dog close to the place when he usually does his „business“, then it can associate the connection between food and the smell of feces. It this situation your dog might not be able to feel the difference.
- Eating feces can be a way to get attention, especially if you always react when your Australian Shepherd do that. It is believed, that dogs with more than one owner eat feces more often.
2. Health problems
There may also be health reasons, especially if your Aussie has started eating feces as an adult. It could be:
- Parasites: the growth of intestinal parasites also requires food. As a result, the pet loses a lot of nutrients during maturation.
- Your Australian Shepherd might feel hungry, even if he has eaten. It could be because of certain diseases such as diabetes and thyroid problems.
- Malabsorption – the inability of the body to absorb certain substances. The dog may eat feces on its own in an attempt to recover undigested nutrients.
- Insufficient nutrition: you should feed your Australian Shepherd regularly to ensure that the daily rate is appropriate for the animal‘s weight and activity.
If you think that eating feces is caused by a health problem, then it is necessary to visit a veterinarian, to do the proper check of your dog.
If your dog eats feces regularly, it is not only unpleasant, but in the worst case, can also affect his health. The three common consequences of this act are as follows:
- Worms and parasites: some parasites lay eggs on the feces from which the larvae develop. If your Australian Shepherd swallows such feces, the parasites enter his digestive system.
- Medications: if animals are ill, they are often given medications, some of which are excreted in the feces. For example, other animals feces may contain toxic additives in dogs if that other animal has just been wormed. However, other medicament residues can also cause symptoms of poisoning.
- Pathogens: your Aussie can pick up pathogens (biological factor that causes a disease) through the feces of its own or other animals. For example, giardia in dog feces causes bloody diarrhea. The feces of some wild animals can cause epidemics such as bird flu, rabbit plague (tularemia) or salmonella infection.
Important! The consequences of eating feces can also be dangerous for humans. For example, if your dog licks a child’s hand and then the child puts it unwashed in their mouth, parasites can get into their digestive tract. So, if you saw that your Aussie has eaten feces, it is advisable to thoroughly clean his mouth and hands immediately.
Advice: if you want to brush your Aussie’s teeth, first offer him an apple. When chewing an apple, the gaps between the teeth are also cleaned of feces. After that, remove loose stools with a soft, slightly damp toothbrush. If your Australian Shepherd does not like apples, then skip this step and clean it directly with a toothbrush.
How To Stop Your Australian Shepherd From Eating Poop
Often, this behavior will disappear by the time the puppy is about nine months old. However, there are several ways that can help prevent poop eating.
- Always keep your Aussie‘s place free of feces, leave him a few toys and make sure he is busy.
- It is not advisable to punish the dog for eating feces – this can only encourage this behavior. Obedience training helps more.
- Before the walk, go around the yard and look for feces. If you find some, spray with a special liquid (which has a pungent odor) that you can buy at any vet store or use water mixed with vinegar.
- Probably the best way to stop your Australian Shepherd is through training and environmental management techniques: take care of your dog during walks and immediately discipline him when you see him planning to eat poop. Of course, speak in the usual tone and use the command „leave it“.
It is important to remember that puppies that eat feces must be vaccinated, and should get a tablet against worms on a regular basis as the risk of infection with internal parasites is greatly increased.
You should stop your dog from eating feces for hygienic and health reasons. The dog can ingest worms and other parasites by eating feces. However, if your Australian Shepherd eats feces, it can be difficult to determine the cause. Therefore, before taking preventative measures, it is best to consult a veterinarian and find out the reasons why he eats it.