As a dog owner, you may have caught your furry friend happily munching away on popsicles. The thought is pretty gross and you probably wonder – why do dogs eat frozen poop?
Coprophagia, the clinical term for poop eating, is actually quite common in dogs. There are a few theories as to why dogs engage in this unappealing behavior. Understanding the potential causes can help you curb your dog’s frozen poop-snacking habits.
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐝𝐨𝐠𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐳𝐞𝐧 𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐩?
Frozen poop is simply poop that has been outside in cold temperatures long enough to freeze solid. Dogs may eat frozen poop for a few reasons:
- Nutritional Deficiency – Dogs eating strange things like poop could indicate a nutritional deficiency in their diet. Frozen poop may contain nutrients they are lacking.
- Natural Instinct – Some experts believe that dogs eat feces to hide the scent from potential predators. By eating it, they are essentially covering their tracks.
- Attention Seeking – Dogs may also eat frozen poop to get a reaction from their owner. Even negative attention like yelling can reinforce the behavior.
- Medical Issue – In some cases, an underlying medical issue like diabetes or Cushing’s disease could cause coprophagia in dogs.
𝐰𝐡𝐲 𝐝𝐨 𝐝𝐨𝐠𝐬 𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐩?
Goose poop, while not very appealing to humans, can be an appetizing snack for dogs. Some possible reasons dogs eat goose droppings include:
- High-Fat Content – Goose feces contain partially digested food, including seeds and grains. This makes it high in fat, which dogs instinctively crave.
- Grazing Behavior – Since geese produce large quantities of poop, dogs may graze on it like a natural buffet.
- Digestive Upset – Eating goose poop could be a sign your dog has gastrointestinal issues and is looking for relief.
- Boredom – Dogs confined in yards with geese may eat goose droppings simply out of boredom and curiosity.
𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐦𝐲 𝐝𝐨𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐩 𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐩?
Breaking your dog’s undesirable goose doody eating habits takes patience and consistency. Here are some tips:
- Remove Access – If possible, block your dog’s access to areas geese frequently. Their poop will be less tempting if it’s not in reach.
- Supervise Outdoors – When your dog is outside off-leash, keep a close eye to intervene with a firm “No” if they attempt to eat goose droppings.
- Reward Leave It – Use treats to reward your dog for obeying “Leave it” commands around goose poop piles. This positive reinforcement builds good behavior.
- Add Fiber – Increase fiber in your dog’s diet to curb cravings for inappropriate snacks like goose poop. Canned pumpkin or psyllium husk can help.
- Consult Your Vet – If your dog’s coprophagia is extreme, consult your vet to rule out potential nutritional deficiencies or health issues. Medication may be recommended.
𝐰𝐡𝐲 𝐝𝐨 𝐝𝐨𝐠𝐬 𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐞 𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐩?
Horse manure is basically a mix of grass and grains – ingredients that make up much of the canine diet. Here’s why your dog may be drawn to horse apples:
- Undigested Oats – Horse poop contains a lot of undigested oats, which are an enticing snack to your dog. The starch and fiber are energy sources.
- Smell – Horse manure has an appealing smell to canine senses, unlike human poop which dogs avoid. The smell draws them in.
- Texture – The soft, mushy texture of horse poop is easy for dogs to chew and swallow. They may eat it right out of the pile.
- Grazing – Since horses produce lots of poop, dogs can graze on it leisurely like an all-you-can-eat poop buffet.
- Attention – Eating this cringe-worthy snack gets a big reaction from their humans, which dogs find rewarding.
𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐦𝐲 𝐝𝐨𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐩 𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐞 𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐩?
You can curb your dog’s horse apple addiction with consistent training:
- Supervise Outside – When your dog is around horses, keep them leashed or closely supervised so you can interrupt horse poop eating.
- Command Training – Work on “Leave it” and “Drop it” commands at home using treats. Eventually, use these cues when they show interest in horse apples.
- Muzzle – Use a muzzle temporarily when around horses so they can’t act on the impulse. Never leave a muzzle on unsupervised.
- Secure Manure – Ask horse owners to promptly remove manure piles so your dog isn’t tempted. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Add Fiber – Increase fiber in your dog’s diet to keep their digestive system humming along healthily so they’re less inclined to snack on horse apples.
𝐈𝐬 𝐢𝐭 𝐧𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐥 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐝𝐨𝐠𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐩?
Eating feces is normal behavior for dogs in the sense that many dogs do it. However, it’s not accepted as truly “normal” by veterinary behaviorists. Dogs evolved as carnivores eating a meat-based diet, not poop. Still, the behavior persists in domesticated dogs. Estimates say 10-25% of dogs eat poop regularly. Young dogs are more likely to eat poop as their bodies and behaviors develop. Stress and confinement may also contribute to poop eating. While common, it’s important to discourage coprophagia for your dog’s health.
𝐃𝐨 𝐝𝐨𝐠𝐬 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐬𝐢𝐜𝐤 𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐩?
Yes, dogs can get sick from eating poop. Potential dog health risks include:
- Intestinal Parasites – Feces often harbor nasty parasites like giardia, roundworms, hookworms or whipworms that can infect your dog.
- Bacteria – Poop contains varieties of bacteria like E. coli and salmonella that can cause gastrointestinal illness in dogs if ingested.
- Blockages – Dogs have been known to suffer intestinal obstructions from eating their poop, requiring emergency surgery.
- Nutrient Deficiencies – The stool itself has no nutritional value, so excessive poop eating could lead to malnutrition.
- Dental Disease – Bacteria stuck on teeth from feces can inflame gums and damage tooth enamel.
Keeping your dog from eating poop is the best way to avoid these health issues. Seek veterinary help if your dog has diarrhea, vomiting or other symptoms after poop-eating incidents.
𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐨 𝐜𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐧 𝐝𝐨𝐠 𝐦𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐡 𝐚𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐩?
After catching your dog happily nibbling on poop, thoroughly clean their mouth to minimize the risk of germs and parasites:
- Wipe the mouth – Use gauze, a washcloth or disposable wipes to gently wipe any visible debris from teeth, gums, tongue and roof of mouth. Don’t force open the mouth.
- Tooth brushing – Use a pet-safe toothpaste and toothbrush for a quick scrub of surfaces. Focus on the tongue and gumline.
- Dental rinse – Mix together hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and water. Use an eyedropper to squirt into the dog’s mouth, then let them swallow. Rinse with water.
- Breath freshener – Offer ice cubes, green beans or parsley after to help override stinky poop breath.
- Disinfect toys – Clean rubber toys with diluted vinegar to destroy germs.
Repeat oral cleaning for 5-7 days following each poop eating incident as a precaution. Schedule a vet dental cleaning every 6 months.
Hopefully this breakdown gives you more insight into why dogs find frozen poop to be such a tasty treat. While disgusting to us, it’s normal canine behavior stemming from scavenging instincts, nutrition and curiosity. With consistent training and setting your dog up for success by removing access to poop, you can put an end to unhealthy coprophagia. Keep your dog’s mouth and teeth clean after any successful poop snacks to kill germs. Stopping frozen poop eating will keep your best friend healthier.
𝐐: 𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐝𝐨 𝐝𝐨𝐠𝐬 𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐜𝐚𝐭 𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐩?
A: Dogs eat cat poop for many of the same reasons they eat poop from other animals. The high protein and fat content makes cat feces an appealing doggy snack. Plus cats eat animal products like meat, bones and eggs so remnants of those get passed in stool. Dogs evolved as meat eaters, so the strong smell draws them in.
𝐐: 𝐃𝐨 𝐩𝐮𝐩𝐩𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐠𝐫𝐨𝐰 𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐩?
A: Puppies may be especially attracted to eating all kinds of poop as they explore the world with their mouths. However, puppies do not automatically outgrow poop eating behaviors as they age. Continued coprophagia into adulthood is common. You need to actively train puppies not to eat poop to help end the behavior.
𝐐: 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐡𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐝𝐲 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐝𝐨𝐠𝐬 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐩 𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐩?
A: Home remedies like adding pumpkin, pineapple or meat tenderizer to your dog’s food are often recommended to stop poop eating. However, there’s no scientific evidence that these remedies work consistently. The best home solution for stopping poop eating is diligent training and environmental management to prevent access to poop.
𝐐: 𝐂𝐚𝐧 𝐦𝐲 𝐝𝐨𝐠 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐬𝐢𝐜𝐤 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐝𝐞𝐞𝐫 𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐩?
A: Yes, dogs can absolutely get sick from eating deer poop. Deer droppings may contain disease-causing organisms like E. coli, Giardia, Salmonella, or Chronic Wasting Disease prions. Signs your dog may have gotten ill from ingesting deer feces include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, lethargy, or neurologic abnormalities. Seek prompt veterinary care if these symptoms develop.
𝐐: 𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐝𝐨𝐞𝐬 𝐦𝐲 𝐝𝐨𝐠 𝐤𝐞𝐞𝐩 𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐩𝐨𝐨𝐩?
A: Dogs engaging in auto coprophagia by eating their own stool points to some kind of underlying cause. Possible reasons include nutritional deficiency, medical conditions like diabetes or thyroid disorder, intestinal parasites, stress or anxiety, or even attention-seeking behavior. Identifying and addressing the root cause is key to stopping this inappropriate behavior.