Yes it is gross. However, dog eating poop can also be dangerous to their health. It is a condition called coprophagia, which is a the consumption of feces by an animal. The biggest hazard of eating poop is the risk of parasite infestation. You can read more about the dangers of parasite infestation and what you can do to treat it.
There are many reasons your dog may eat poop:
- Irregular feeding schedules
- Lack of nutrients and minerals in their diet
- Lack of supervision
- Confined space – dogs may eat poop when trying to keep a crate or small space clean
- Maternal – mother dogs will sometimes eat poop when trying to keep their area clean after having puppies
The primary treatment for eating poo is behavioral modification. First and foremost you need to speak to your vet to eliminate any dietary issues. Then look at their environment. If they are in a confined space, try giving them more room to move around. Giving them more attention and playing with them can help if it is being driven by a lack of attention. Toys are a good alternative if anxiety is a cause.
You will want to make sure to keep their area clean of poo. If it is not there they cannot eat it. When they are out in public, keep them on a leash so you can prevent them from eating poo.
It is natural for a dog to sniff poo and is part of normal behavior. This can be the hardest part of behavior modification, identifying when they are sniffing and when they are eating. If you have identified that it is not being caused by nutrition or environment, you may want to talk to a trainer about the best way to help your dog to stop eating poo. Humiliation training, like rubbing their nose in it, can actually make it worse by driving up their anxiety.
If your dog is only eating their own poo, there are additives for their diet you can give them that will make their poo taste bad, and help create a natural aversion to the behavior.
If your dog has been eating poo, it is a good idea to get them checked for parasites. Schedule a visit with your vet to get them checked out, and to discuss ways to get them to stop the behavior.