Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?
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A Tasteful Discussion
Like any companion or roommate, dogs — for all their love and cuteness—have habits we just don’t understand. One question dog owners often ask their pets: “Why? Why would you eat poop?”
When we polled* dog owners recently, most thought it was because a dog is lacking nutrients (49%), they’re anxious (43%) or they just think it tastes good (40%).
Dogs are significantly more likely to eat the droppings of another species (e.g., horses, rabbits) than their own.
But Why? Whyyyyy?
We held our noses and got to the bottom of the issue with the help of some experts.
Do Dogs Eat Poop Because They Lack Nutrients?
While those in our poll thought this was the number-one reason for the behavior, it has actually never been proven. “It’s a myth dogs eat poop because they’re seeking nutrients they aren’t getting. There’s no evidence to back this,” says
Opens a new windowDr. Jo Gale, BVetMed CertLAS MRCVS, Senior Manager, Global Science Advocacy at Waltham Petcare Science Institute.
Do Dogs Eat Poop Because They're Anxious?
Opens a new windowDr. Tammie King, Applied Behavior Technical Leader at Waltham Petcare Science Institute, “It can occur where there is lack of environmental enrichment. You see this often in dogs who are kenneled and have a lack of opportunity to exhibit normal canine behavior.” So if you need another excuse to get out and play with your pooch, this is a good one.
Do Dogs Eat Poop Because of the Taste?
Believe it or not, this is the main reason dogs eat poop. Dr. Jo Gale explains: “Dogs are scavengers by nature and use any opportunity to eat what they can, when they can. They consider it a ‘tasty snack.’” Dr. Tammie King adds that “[Dogs eating poop] is a learned behavior. They’ve done it, enjoyed it, and that behavior is repeated.”
We love our dogs so much that we’re willing to trust our best friends on this. Maybe we should come out with a line of doggie breath mints though. Hmm.
Is Eating Poop Harmful to Dogs?
“Ingesting feces from any animal increases potential for ingesting parasites and pathogens,” cautions Opens a new windowDr. James Serpell BSc, Phd Professor of Humane Ethics & Animal Welfare at University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. He went on to say, “[It’s] not something humans should ignore, but it's not worth getting too excited about it.”
All the experts we consulted said that if your dog occasionally eats poop, it’s nothing to be overly alarmed by. Just keep an eye on the frequency and their overall health. And as always, make sure they’re getting a nutritious diet and plenty of exercise and attention. If you have any concerns contact your vet.
Despite dogs liking the taste of poop, we’re going to stick with the healthy range of more traditional flavors offered in all IAMS dog foods.
*Surveyed U.S. dog owners, age 18+
Sample Size: n=201
Fielded May 8 to May 10, 2020
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- adp_description_block339Puppy Basics: Nutrition for Small and Toy Breeds
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Your small- or toy-breed puppy grows rapidly in the first months of their life: Their immune system is developing, their bones are growing and their muscles are getting stronger. With all this growth, they need the right mix of nutrients to support their development. To make sure your puppy is getting the proper nutrition to protect and maintain their health and well-being, keep these key points in mind.
What Food Should You Feed Your Small-breed Puppy?
Research shows that puppies need up to twice as much energy as adult dogs. Because they are growing so quickly at this stage, your small-but-mighty pup needs an energy-rich, nutrient-dense small-breed dog food like IAMS™ Puppy Small Breed. Puppies also need more protein than adult dogs. High-quality animal-based protein will help your puppy create new body tissue as they grow.
Aside from protein, make sure these other important nutrients and ingredients are a part of your puppy's diet:
- Vitamin-rich fish oils to support overall health
- Essential vitamins and minerals to help support the immune system and help your puppy stay healthy during this critical stage of growth
- Animal-based protein sources to help nourish growing muscles, vital organs and your puppy’s skin and coat
- A fiber source that will help keep your puppy’s sensitive digestive system healthy, so more nutrition stays in your puppy
- Ideal levels of calcium and phosphorus to help your puppy develop strong teeth and bones
These are important building blocks of nutrition. Look for them when you choose dry or canned dog food and when you select treats.
Why Do Small-breed Puppies Need Specialized Nutrition?
When it comes to feeding puppies, one size does not fit all. Small-breed puppies have higher metabolism rates per pound and reach their mature adult weight faster than larger-breed puppies. And small-breed puppies need high levels of protein, fat, calcium and phosphorus to support the growth and development of their bones, muscles and other tissues. So, giving your puppy a food that supports their breed size is the easiest way to make sure they’re getting the right balance of nutrients for their growth rate.
And remember: Small-breed puppies also have small mouths and stomachs! Make sure your puppy's food has small kibble for easy chewing. A nutrient-dense formula will help your puppy get a complete and balanced diet even though their stomach can only hold what seems like a small amount of food.
How Much and How Often Should You Feed Your Small-breed Puppy?
From the time your puppy is weaned until 4 months of age, you should feed your puppy two to three times a day. Check the food label guidelines to feed them the proper daily amount. After your puppy is 4 months old, feed them twice a day on a regular schedule. And make sure they always have access to fresh water, too!
When Should You Switch Your Puppy to Adult Food?
A small-breed puppy reaches adult weight faster than larger breeds. You can start feeding an adult dog food, such as IAMS™ Adult Small Breed, when they are around 9 to 12 months old.
Your dog might not be thrilled about the change at first, but don't worry. You can help ease the transition by gradually introducing the adult food. Try mixing 25% of the new food with 75% of their puppy food, and then gradually change the proportions over the next three weeks until they are eating 100% adult food.
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