New Studies May Answer the Question as to Why Dogs Eat Poop

Your dog isn't the only one at the dog park eating poop.

Veterinary scientists at University of California at Davis recently surveyed dog owners to find that 16 percent reported their pooches chow down on other dogs' poop. The survey also revealed: the fresher the better. Any poo sitting out for more than two days isn't likely to get consumed.

The act—or art?—of eating feces is called coprophagy. Why animals practice coprophagy has been debated for decades. Many veterinarians believe it is linked to nutritional needs. In fact, it is normal for rabbits to eat their "night feces" because it has essential fiber and B vitamins due to its digestive properties in a special part of the rabbit GI tract.

dog pooping

The survey found that many of the dogs are ravenous eaters who will readily snatch up any food available—even feces. Pet owners also reported no behavioral training to keep their dogs from doing the dirty deed, success using aversion products, like spicy sprays, on the market were only 0 to 2 percent successful.

However, in finding that dogs have a preference for fresh poo, a group of scientists have surmised that this canine trait might be an evolutionary holdover from their wolf ancestors. While wolves typically defecate away from the den, ill or injured ones end up defecating within the den. Parasite eggs take a few days to hatch. Therefore, by ingesting the feces within a two-day span, wolves—and dogs—prevent parasite infestations because eating the poop is the only way to clean the den.

So the next time your dog has poo breath, maybe you should thank him for keeping the neighborhood and dog park parasite-free!

Does your dog eat his own poo? Tell us how you and your pooch deal with this behavior in the comments below.

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