a cat and a Litter box

Image via Wikipedia


We’ve all seen it. You’re relaxing in the back yard watching your pooch chase a ball, or some rogue squirrel, and then it happens.  They stop on a dime and start sniffing the ground. You glance up from your People magazine (who am I kidding…The National Enquirer) and you can’t help but see it.  Your beloved dog is eating some old poo. Who knows how long it has been there. It’s not so bad when it’s the older poo, because it just looks like a dried up log. But when it’s the fresh variety poo, it tends to cause involuntary gagging on your part. You want to scream out…HEY!  DO YOU KISS YOUR MOMMY WITH THAT MOUTH YOU’RE USING TO EAT POO WITH! He looks sheepishly up at you.  He knows it’s wrong, but he can’t help it. He likes the poo.

So, the question is, WHY does he like the poo. After researching numerous articles, and interviewing countless pooches who like the poo, I think I might have narrowed down the answer. 

Dogs eat poo because poo contains vitamins produced by the intestinal bacteria that the animal can’t absorb through the intestinal wall. So, they get these vitamins by eating poop. Dogs also eat poo because it contains protein. Dogs are particularly fond of cat poo because cat poo is high in protein.  I also think dogs rifle through the kitty litter box because it really ticks cats off.

A female dog will eat the poo of her pups as a way to keep the den clean, and to prevent the scent of the poo from attracting predators. There is even a theory that some particularly dominant dogs will eat other dogs’ poo in order to remove it, and therefore remove the other dogs’ presence. This is because poo is one way in which dogs mark territory. It’s kind of like how street gangs tag their territory with graffiti, and then other street gangs come along and remove it, or replace the graffiti with their own. Ok, maybe it’s not like that, I’m just trying to give a visual. And, some veterinarians believe that eating poo is just a trait passed down to dogs from their ancestors. Coyotes and wolves have been known to eat their own poo during food shortages, and have also been known to eat the poo of herbivores (For those of us that can’t remember 9th grade Biology – Herbivores are plant-eating animals) because it contains many of the B vitamins needed in their diets.

It looks like dogs really aren’t trying to gross us out, it’s just a way for them to get vitamins they may be lacking from their diets…and they just plain like it.


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