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Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?
Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

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Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

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?”

 

default album dogs eat poop graph
 

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.
 

 

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Do Dogs Eat Poop Because They're Anxious?

According to 

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.

 

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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

  • Dog Food Expiry
    Dog Food Expiry

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    Does Dog Food Expire & How To Know If It Has?

    As a pet parent, do you find yourself wondering how long does dog food last? If so, you’re not alone! In this blog, we will take you through everything you need to know about dog food expiry.  
     

    Dogs require a balanced meal every day. As a pet owner, you can choose between dry and wet foods. Dry dog food usually resembles a biscuit or kibble. On the other hand, wet dog food combines meat products or other protein sources with a gravy that incorporates grains, minerals, and vitamins. Whatever your dog finds palatable, make sure their nutritional requirements are met.
     

    Diets that are high in protein are good for dogs. A significant source of energy is found in dietary fats, which are either derived from plant seed oils or animal fats. They offer essential fatty acids, like omega-3s, that are necessary to preserve the health of your dog's skin and coat. Additionally, carbohydrates support your pet's digestive health and provide energy for them to continue with their regular activities.
     

    While it is important to focus on your pet’s daily nutritional intake, you should also make sure that the food packets are still fresh. Serving expired dog food will deprive your canine companion of the key vitamins and minerals they need to keep healthy. Hence, it is important to examine the labels and expiration dates before making a purchase.


     

    Understanding Shelf Life Vs Expiry Date

    The amount of time a product is useable and suitable for consumption is referred to as its shelf life. In contrast, expiry date is the last day that a perishable product, like food, will be at its highest quality. 
     

    If you are wondering does dog food expire, the answer is a yes. In fact, the contents and types of preservatives used do affect the shelf life of a food item. So, to guarantee your dog's safety, pet food producers set expiration or best by dates. Unopened canned foods have a shelf life of two years from the date of manufacturing, whereas unopened dry pet foods typically have a shelf life of 12 to 18 months. Plan to open and use the dog food before the expiration date. You can usually find this date on the bottom of the can containing dog food.


     

    Effects Of Eating Expired Dog Food

    Now that you know dog food expires, let’s examine the effects of serving expired food to your pet:
     

    • Gastrointestinal issues

    After consuming spoiled food, dogs generally exhibit the same gastrointestinal symptoms as people do. These symptoms could include vomiting, diarrhea, and passing wind. Spoiled foods can also contain bacteria that can disturb the equilibrium in the gut and intestines, causing the body to excrete more fluids in an effort to wash them out. What’s more is that moldy dog food can contain mycotoxins like vomitoxin, which can cause serious gastrointestinal disorders.
     

    • Botulism

    Dogs can become paralyzed from botulism. It is a rare condition occurring when canines consume contaminated food. The poison gets absorbed in the intestines and passes into the bloodstream, thus paralyzing dogs.
     

    • Other health issues

    Another consequence of feeding your pet spoiled dog food is malnutrition. Before turning moldy, spoiled foods usually lose their vitamin and mineral value. This suggests that even if the food doesn't upset your dog's stomach, it is still not giving your pet what they require. Your dog may become lethargic if daily nutritional demands aren't met. This can eventually result in bone issues and organ failure, if not recognized as early as possible.


     

    Best Practices For Storing Dog Food

    Even if you have a food item that is still within its best by date, improper storage could lead to early contamination and food degradation. Here are some steps you must take to prolong the shelf life and maintain food quality:
     

    • Shop frequently

    Purchasing multiple boxes of treats may save you from making repeat visits to the shop. However, keeping so much stock might increase the likelihood that your dog's food goes bad before it gets completely consumed. Therefore, shop frequently if you don’t want your dog’s food to expire.
     

    • Refrigerate wet dog food

    The shelf life of fresh, wet items can be increased by keeping them in the freezer. Any unopened canned food should be sealed with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator.
     

    • Use clips to store dry food

    Use chip clips to seal the food bags and keep moisture out. You could also store your pet’s food in its original packaging and stack it in a cool, dry place with little exposure to heat and light. Avoid keeping dry dog food open.

     

    What To Do With Expired Dog Food?

    Dog food that has expired needs to be tossed out right away. There are also waste management facilities that compost used pet food.

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