Why do dogs eat poop? Here's the Scoop!

Did someone say Poop? All the Scoop on … POOP!

It’s hard to believe we are in the full throes of spring here in the PNW, home of the Original Teddy Bear dog, the cuddly Habibi Bear pup! Flowers are blooming, skies are clearing and life is bursting forth in the eternal cycle of rebirth, and it is an honor to witness it all. Part of our mission is to be a source of information for our Habibi Bear Tribe based on our decades-long experience in raising these magical little creature companions. Our inbox is filled weekly with questions and queries from those of our Tribe needing advice or counsel. 

Believe it or not, we get tons of questions about poop! Too much, not enough, where to go, and the most frequent inquiry… how to stop pups from eating their own poop. Dear gentle reader, as upsetting as this seems to us as humans, it is a behavior that is part of the animal world, and canines, although domesticated, still retain many behaviors that would take place in the wild. The term for this behavior is coprophagy, and the reasons for it can be varied. For example, in the wild, it is a way to prevent another predator from being able to track them, therefore, it is linked to a stress response and a way to manage their own stress through self-preservation.  

For pet parents, this unwanted behavior can be an indication of several things:
  1. The puppy is not receiving enough nutrients (hungry or food not meeting needs).
  2. Improper food digestion (sometimes we find eating too late at night gives our dogs loose stools). 
  3. Need for digestive enzyme support (tummy out of whack due to a bug or stress). 
  4. The highly nutritious foods  result in a significant portion of nutrients being eliminated in the stool.

If you happen to witness this behavior, don’t panic or fret. The fecal material retains undigested carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and fats, all of which the puppy can smell (remember, their sense of smell is over 1,000 times stronger than ours). It is normal that a dog who could still be hungry would identify feces as a convenient food source. Your puppy isn’t trying to be disgusting; it's merely trying to find a practical solution to an imbalance in its system. 

Dr. Ian Billinghurst, the founder of raw feeding, suggests that dogs may eat poop occasionally to obtain the nutrients they need. AnimalBiome also performs oral-fecal transplants to treat gut dysbiosis. Additionally, newborns born via C-section can benefit from a small amount of their mother's fecal or vaginal secretions orally, which can help establish a healthy gut microbiome. 

Natural Support for gut health

We here at the Habibi Bear Central Hub make frequent use of Gastro Pro Plus by Paw Tree, and it is an item that we keep on hand at all times in our dog parenting toolbox. It contains probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes to soothe and help your Habibi Bear pup’s tummy get back into tip-top shape and work like it should. It keeps our Habibi Bear guys and gals pooping like champions! 

Speaking of poops, if your Habibi Bear puppy has loose or watery stools, one of the first things we do to get a pup back on track is to withhold all solid food for a period of 24 hours, giving them plenty of water (Poopy Puppies, Sept 2023). By withholding foods for this set period of time, you help your Habibi Bear pup’s digestive tract rest, re-establish its equilibrium and reset itself. The reintroduction of your pup’s solid food will be a process taking place over a period of three days. Start by offering a tablespoon or two of pureed, organic Pumpkin after 24 hours. Pumpkin helps to firm up the stool, removes excess water in the digestive tract, and is a tasty source of fiber and micronutrients, acting as a prebiotic. Take care not to overfeed too soon, offering a meal of 2 tablespoons of pumpkin and half of their normal kibble on the day after the fast.

The gradual return of feeding solids might look like this: 

  • Day One: Runny Stools- No solid foods, plenty of clean (wash their water bowl as precaution) water. 
  • Day Two: In the AM, two tablespoons Pumpkin and in the afternoon, 2 TBS pumpkin and half the amount of their kibble.
  • Day Three: Split their kibble feedings into two portions, with the addition of 1 TBS pumpkin with half the kibble for each meal. 
  • Day Four: Regular feeding with the addition of 1 TBS pumpkin. 

Please pay careful attention that you purchase pureed Pumpkin, preferably organic, and not pumpkin pie filling. 

Let us know how this works out for you and your Habibi Bear puppy by sending us an email or DM’ing us. We love being able to share our experience and knowledge with you and our Habibi Bear Tribe. We are always here for you, cheering us on.