The Gross Truth: Why Does My Shih Tzu Eat Poop?

As a veterinarian, I have heard this question many times from concerned dog owners. You may be surprised to learn that the scientific name for poop eating is coprophagia, and it is not uncommon among dogs of all breeds, including Shih Tzus. While it may be a disgusting habit to us humans, there are several reasons why dogs engage in this behavior. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind why your Shih Tzu eats poop and what you can do to discourage this behavior.

The Gross Truth: Why Does My Shih Tzu Eat Poop?

Reasons behind Coprophagia

1. Nutritional Deficiency

One reason behind coprophagia is a nutritional deficiency. Dogs are often attracted to poop that has not been fully digested because it may contain nutrients that they are lacking. This is more common in dogs that are fed low-quality diets that do not provide all the necessary nutrients. If your Shih Tzu is eating poop, it may be a sign that their diet is lacking in some essential nutrients.

2. Anxiety and Stress

Another reason why dogs engage in coprophagia is anxiety and stress. Dogs may resort to eating poop as a way to cope with their anxiety or stress. This is more common in dogs that are left alone for long periods or have experienced a significant change in their environment, such as a move to a new home or a new addition to the family.

3. Cleanliness Instinct

Dogs have a natural instinct to keep their living area clean, and this may include eating poop. Mother dogs will sometimes eat their puppies’ poop to keep the den clean and protect the puppies from predators that may be attracted to the scent. This behavior may also be observed in adult dogs that feel the need to clean up their living area.

How to Discourage Coprophagia

If you are concerned about your Shih Tzu eating poop, there are several things you can do to discourage this behavior.

1. Improve their Diet

If your Shih Tzu is eating poop due to a nutritional deficiency, the first step is to improve their diet. You should feed your dog a high-quality, balanced diet that provides all the necessary nutrients. If necessary, you may also consider adding supplements to their diet.

2. Manage their Environment

If your Shih Tzu is eating poop due to anxiety or stress, you should try to manage their environment to reduce their stress levels. This may include increasing their exercise, providing mental stimulation, and spending more time with them. You should also ensure that they have a comfortable and secure living area.

3. Train Them

Training your Shih Tzu can be an effective way to discourage coprophagia. You can train them to follow commands such as “leave it” or “drop it” when they attempt to eat poop. Positive reinforcement training can also be effective, where they receive rewards for good behavior.

When to Seek Veterinary Attention

While coprophagia is not usually a serious health concern, there are situations where you should seek veterinary attention. If your Shih Tzu is eating poop excessively or is showing signs of illness, such as vomiting or diarrhea, you should take them to the vet. It is also essential to keep your Shih Tzu up to date with their vaccinations and deworming to prevent them from ingesting harmful bacteria or parasites.

Final Thoughts

While coprophagia may be a disgusting habit, it is not uncommon among dogs. There are several reasons why dogs engage in this behavior, including a nutritional deficiency, anxiety and stress, and a cleanliness instinct. However, there are things you can do to discourage this behavior, including improving their diet, managing their environment, and training them. If you are concerned about your Shih Tzu’s coprophagia, you should seek veterinary attention. With proper care and attention, your Shih Tzu can live a happy and healthy life free from poop-eating habits.

FAQs

Q: Why does my Shih Tzu eat poop?
A: The medical term for poop eating is coprophagia. While it’s not fully understood why dogs eat poop, it’s believed to be a natural behavior in some cases. This is especially true for dogs like Shih Tzus that were originally bred to be companion animals. However, there are other reasons why dogs eat poop, such as nutrient deficiency, boredom, anxiety, and even medical conditions. It’s important to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues and to address the problem accordingly.

Q: Is poop eating harmful to my Shih Tzu’s health?
A: Generally, eating poop is not harmful to dogs, but it can lead to health problems if the poop is contaminated with bacteria or parasites. This can result in gastrointestinal issues and infections. Additionally, if your Shih Tzu eats poop from unknown sources, they may be exposing themselves to harmful substances or chemicals. Therefore, it’s recommended to discourage the behavior and keep a close eye on your dog’s environment to prevent them from eating poop.

Q: How can I stop my Shih Tzu from eating poop?
A: There are several ways to discourage poop eating behavior in dogs. First, ensure that your dog is getting enough nutrients from their diet to prevent nutrient deficiencies. You can also try to keep your dog’s environment clean and pick up their poop as soon as possible. Redirecting your dog’s attention to toys or treats during walks can also be helpful. Lastly, there are products available that you can add to your dog’s food to make their poop less appealing, although it’s best to consult with a veterinarian before using any of these products.

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