Dogs have always been scavengers. They’ll eat roadkill as readily as their suppers. Household rubbish, pond muck and dead sparrows on the lawn are no less appetising to certain dogs.
A dog’s digestive process tends to kick into action the moment they sniff something with a pungent smell and, as we all know dung certainly does smell.
Not all animal poop tastes the same though. Dogs seem to have different preferences. Some are attracted to the stools of deer, cows or horses. Others will eat the stools of other dogs and a great many dogs are attracted to cat droppings, possibly because cat foods are very high in protein and the dogs are going after undigested nutrients.
Boredom can be a motivator. Dogs entertain themselves by putting things in their mouths. When not much is happening, they often nose around picking up sticks and putting them down even mouthing rocks on occasion.
Since they aren’t offended by the smell or taste of dung, it’s just another thing for them to pick up, play with, and explore. When we spot them doing this it can provoke an immediate and high energy response from us. Bored dog, highly ‘entertaining’ response from dog’s owner – see where this might be going? Don’t for a second dismiss the idea that sometimes put poop in their mouths because it provokes a response from us. Yes, they really do ‘go there’.
Dogs occasionally eat so much dung that they get sick to their stomachs. For the most part, however, it’s not likely to make them sick – although they may get worms from eating the stools of an infected animal. Their digestive tracts are very forgiving. If you happen to own a dung eating dog you must make sure they’re wormed regularly.
The standard advice is to worm your dog four times a year, this may need to be more frequent if your dog is a poop hound.
The people who live with dogs, however, are less forgiving. For one thing, it’s an ugly sight that no one wants to watch. There’s also the fact that dogs who eat dung have heart-stopping bad breath. It takes some serious devotion to get past that!
Poop-Eating Tip: Veterinarians sometimes recommend adding garlic or canned pumpkin to a dung-eating dog’s food. Assuming that it’s his own dung that he’s attracted do, these ingredients may give it a taste he dislikes – although it’s hard to imagine that anything could make it taste worse than it already does. This isn’t a perfect solution, but it does work for some dogs.
K9 Magazine issue 20