Actually I should add that eating feces is commonly found in wild animals. Many wild animal mothers will eat their baby’s feces so that it does not attract predators.
Starving animals will also derive some bit of nutrition from undigested foodstuff found in feces.
Other animals such as rabbits will eat their certain type of droppings (cecotropes) to re-digest and absorb more nutrients from them. Although essentially not real poop, cecotropes are necessary for the health and well being of the rabbits digestive system.
Even some ancient human cultures will eat semi cooked intestinal material including the feces from animals.
So it’s not unusual in the wild animal world. We just don’t want this behavior duplicated in our pets that live with us at home.
Just thought I should add this since we are talking behavior here.
Isn’t it amazing what some dogs find wonderfully delicious!?! I know dogs that also love to roll around and smear animal feces all over themselves; then decide that they want to jump on you and lick you with their tongue still smelling like feces.
At one point we owned 5 dogs, yet mysteriously we had very few feces in the back yard. After much detective work from my family (hours of staring from behind a curtain), we finally figured out that our beagle was eating everyone else’s poop. Humans would find it revolting, yet our beagle seemed to think this was the most delicious treat.
Obviously no matter how much our beagle enjoyed eating the feces, it was definitely not a healthy diet for her. Feces are full of bacteria and other unwanted items such as parasite eggs and other gross things.
So the trick to discourage our beagle to stop eating everyone’s poop was two fold. One was an additive that can be purchased from your pet store or veterinarian that is easily mixed into the food. There are many brands available as some dogs unfortunately likes the taste of these poop eating deterrent formulas (anti-copaphagic additives).
The other problem was to stop him from eating it before it became an ingrained habit. This was the hardest part on my family as they had to immediately pickup the poop so that the beagle did not have access to it. Well we found this quite difficult with 5 dogs and not everyone being around when the dogs defecated. We had to come up with another system that incorporated both picking up the feces, training, and the use of safe muzzle.
Our beagle would also eat wild animal droppings that he came across on our walks, so we had to train him to not go after that as well. The open meshed muzzle worked great on these walks.
It took a long time to break her habit, but once accomplished, we were rewarded with happy healthy dogs and a yard with the appropriate amount of feces. Although we realized that us humans got in the habit of quickly picking up the feces. So maybe the dog was really training us humans after all . . .
Why do they do it? . . . . because they just think it’s the best. Why don’t we do it? . . . . because we just think it’s the absolute most revolting thing to do. Everybody has their own likes and dislikes . . . .to each his own I guess . . . .