When we say poop, all we think about is its stinky smell and awful appearance.
But when dogs spot a ‘smelly treasure’ on the ground…
They’ll be attracted to it like bees to honey.
Why are they doing this?
And should you be concerned about this poop-sniffing behavior?
Read on to find out:
- 7 reasons why dogs love to smell other dogs’ poop.
- If you should let your dog sniff other dogs’ stools or not.
- Whether canines can get sick from smelling other dogs’ feces.
- 5 potential dangers and things you should do if they keep on doing this.
- And a lot more…
Table of contents
- Why do dogs smell other dogs’ poop?
- 7 reasons why dogs smell other dogs’ poop
- #1: They’re gathering some info about other dogs
- #2: They’re trying to know other dogs’ reproductive status
- #3: They’re determining other dogs’ territories
- #4: They’re reading today’s ‘dog-mails’
- #5: They’re collecting an update about the neighborhood dogs
- #6: It’s a normal canine behavior
- #7: They’re detecting something…
- Should I let my dog smell other dogs’ poop? 5 potential dangers
- Can dogs get sick from sniffing other dogs’ poop?
Why do dogs smell other dogs’ poop?
Dogs smell other dogs’ poop to get some information. This is because stools have pheromones. These give off a smell that’s unique in every dog. So, canines will be able to tell another dog’s identity by sniffing their poop. As well as if they’re ready to mate or not. Or whose territory they’re in.
7 reasons why dogs smell other dogs’ poop
#1: They’re gathering some info about other dogs
First, you might be wondering,
“Do dogs love the smell of poop?”
Well, they don’t love it the way we like the scent of freshly baked cookies or brewing coffee.
Canines are only sniffing it because they’re more interested in the information it holds.
“Wait. What do you mean?”
What happens is, when dogs poop, they also release a smelly brownish fluid. And this is squeezed from their anal sacs or tiny pouches inside their anus.
Now for us, this liquid only smells awful like a skunk spray. But for canines, it’s more than that.
This is because it contains pheromones.
“What are those?”
Those are substances that are unique in every canine.
And they’re used to convey messages to the same species. As well as some info about the owner such as:
- Health condition.
- The mood at the moment.
- Diet (things they’ve just eaten).
So, dogs aren’t sniffing poop just because they want to.
They’re doing it to ‘read’ the business cards or IDs left by other dogs.
Or when you compare it to today’s modern world, it’ll be similar to viewing a Facebook or Twitter profile.
By the way, pheromones aren’t only found in poop. Because they could also be in a dog’s pee, sweat, or saliva.
Interesting fact: How do dogs smell these substances? Well, it’s all thanks to their ‘Jacobson’s organ.’ A study says that it’s responsible for detecting these signals from other Fidos. As it serves as a second nose that processes this kind of information.
#2: They’re trying to know other dogs’ reproductive status
Besides the info I mentioned earlier, a dog’s poop can also tell if a dog’s sexually ready or not.
And again, this is possible due to their pheromones.
Male dogs can mate any time of the year. But female canines only go in season twice annually.
So to find a potential mate, they’ll give off an irresistible scent.
This could be released in their poop or urine. So, dogs might also pee everywhere when they’re sexually mature. Like they’re spreading the news all over the area.
Now, this certain scent can make male dogs out of control. And this is because they could sniff a female’s chemical signal.
They’ll be so frustrated as they can’t do anything with their instinct. So some may refuse to eat and become restless. While others will whine a lot.
“Is this really possible?”
Okay, we don’t know how it smells.
But, research shows that males are indeed more attracted to the scent of females in heat.
Interesting fact: A study found that many dogs mate during the rainy season. And this might be due to the increase in humidity. As pheromones in the ground smell stronger when damp. And this triggers more sexual excitement in canines.
#3: They’re determining other dogs’ territories
Are you familiar with urine marking?
This is when dogs pee in certain areas. And vets say that it might be due to anxiety or sexual excitement.
But, it can also be done to mark things they consider as their property. Like their usual spots in the house. Upright objects such as fire hydrants in front of their place.
And sometimes, even their parents. (We’re an important resource too!)
It’s a smart (but smelly) strategy. Because as I said earlier, their urine contains pheromones. And it’s also the same for their stools.
So upon sniffing a poop, other dogs will know whose territory they’re on.
Don’t forget to check out: 9 Reasons Why Dogs Scratch The Ground After They Pee Or Poop
#4: They’re reading today’s ‘dog-mails’
In other cases, it could also be that dogs left a simple message on the ground. Which is enveloped in their ‘dookie.’
They’re not claiming the area as their territory. Instead, they’re only dropping by to say “Hi!”
Or to make their presence known to other hounds.
So, dogs might also sniff others’ poop to read these messages. Or should I say ‘dog-mails.’
#5: They’re collecting an update about the neighborhood dogs
A pooch who’s busy sniffing may only be gathering the latest news in their area.
We’ve talked about how much info a small poop has. So by smelling it, they’ll know what happened outside.
They can determine the dogs who were there. As well as the time or day of their visit.
Fidos could also tell if there’s a new dog neighbor around. Or if there’s a hound they should be wary of.
According to AKC, dogs might also release a scent from their anal sacs when they’re scared.
And this can be used to notify other Fidos about a certain threat.
#6: It’s a normal canine behavior
Have you seen a dog who’s not much into sniffing?
Well, probably not.
A pooch who isn’t using their snouts and smells anything they see is unusual.
This is because dogs sniff to see the world around them.
We humans usually depend on our sight to collect information about our surroundings.
But, canines mostly use their smell. As it’s the strongest among their senses.
Experts say that their olfactory receptors are 50 times greater than ours.
(Dogs have about 300 million of these. While we only have around 6 million.)
So, they smell everything to have a better understanding of their environment. And other dogs’ poop is no exception in this.
You might also like: 7 Reasons Why Your Dog Constantly Sniffs The Ground
#7: They’re detecting something…
Lastly, if a dog is so interested in another Fido’s poop…
They might have sensed something in it. Like a new odor, virus, or parasites.
This isn’t impossible as their noses are way superior to ours. And as I said earlier, dogs can tell about the health of a certain pooch through the smell of their poop.
Some dogs could even sniff illnesses, such as:
- Breast cancer.
- Prostate cancer.
- Parkinson’s disease.
Interesting fact: Other Fidos are also now being trained to detect the COVID-19 virus. Based on a 2020 study, 2 dogs were able to identify all the positive samples correctly.
Speaking of diseases…
Should I let my dog smell other dogs’ poop? 5 potential dangers
We already know that poop sniffing is normal in dogs.
But, this doesn’t mean that this behavior is completely harmless.
This is because aside from pheromones, your dog may also sniff some dangerous matter in it.
One example of this is parvovirus (or ‘parvo’ for short).
It’s the most common disease spread by smelling a dog’s feces. And it’s also one of the deadliest viruses in canines.
“So, what does it do to dogs?”
Vets say that the virus attacks the cells in their bodies. Especially in the bone marrow and intestines.
The damage will then reduce their protection from bacteria. And it’ll also cause their intestines to not absorb nutrients.
Then, this will become more severe. Which could lead to diarrhea. As well as an infection.
“How do dogs get this?”
Infected canines will shed the virus in their poop.
So dogs who will sniff, lick, eat, or touch the stool can get this in an instant. And also if they come into contact with any contaminated surfaces.
“What are its symptoms?”
Lethargy is usually the first sign of this disease.
But other symptoms will also appear, such as:
- Reduced appetite.
And these might appear within 3 to 7 days after the contact.
“How can this be treated?”
PetMD says that there’s no specific cure for this.
But to prevent dehydration, dogs will be given IV fluids. As well as antibiotics to fight the virus.
However, this could be avoided with vaccination. Which is usually done in puppies ages 14 to 16 weeks.
Note: Parvovirus can live long on surfaces. Based on VCA Hospitals, it’s resistant to detergents and heat. So for this, they recommend a 1:30 bleach solution.
Don’t forget to check out: 9 Reasons Why Your New Puppy Isn’t Eating Or Drinking Much
Apart from viruses…
Dogs can also get parasites from stools.
The most common one is roundworms. Or ones that look like spaghetti noodles.
According to vets, they live in the intestines. Where they lay a thousand eggs a day.
Then, some eggs will be released in their feces. Which are highly contagious.
So, if other dogs smell or lick the infected stool, they’ll also get these pesky worms.
“What does it do to dogs?”
Roundworms aren’t usually fatal to adult canines.
But, they can be dangerous for small puppies.
These could also stunt their growth. And this is because they’re taking away the nutrients they need. Since they live in the intestines.
Its common signs are:
- Recurring diarrhea.
But, there may be adult roundworms in their poop as well.
Interesting fact: Roundworm eggs aren’t infectious at first. But, they will after 2 to 4 weeks. This is based on experts. And they say that it’s because they have reached the 3rd larvae stage.
There’s also one more parasite that you should be wary of.
These are hookworms. And just like roundworms, they also live in the intestines.
These worms feed on dogs’ blood. And they get this from the intestinal walls.
This usually causes anemia in puppies. But, adult Fidos aren’t safe either.
“How do dogs get these?”
It’s similar to roundworms.
Their eggs are also passed down into their stools. And these will be infectious after 5 to 10 days.
Dogs can get the eggs by simply sniffing an infected poop. But skin penetration is also common in this case.
While these may also be transferred from a mother dog to her litter. Which is by drinking contaminated milk.
This is a condition caused by a parasite called ‘Giardia duodenalis.’
Based on vets, it’s not a virus or a worm. And it has 2 different forms.
The first one is found in the stomach of their host. While the other one is formed in their stools.
Now, if this goes into the environment, it could also live for many months like parvovirus. And they’ll thrive in moist areas.
“How can this be transferred to dogs?”
Same with the others, this can spread by smelling or touching the infected poop.
But, dogs might also get this by drinking contaminated water.
“What are its signs?”
Its common symptoms are:
- Weight loss.
- Mucus in the stools.
- Foul smelling-diarrhea (sometimes, greenish).
And these will continue for weeks.
This is also a disease that affects a dog’s intestines. And it’s caused by an organism called ‘Coccidia.’
It’s similar to giardiasis. As the parasite can survive in the environment for so long.
And dogs could also get this by exposure to infected feces.
But in this case, most dogs don’t show any signs at all.
However, some pups and sick adult Fidos can experience vomiting. As well as severe diarrhea and stomach pain.
#BONUS: Harmful bacteria
Lastly, a dog’s stool can have harmful bacteria too. Like E.coli and Salmonella.
Research found that E.coli is present in ⅓ of the 16 canine stool samples. And it often causes diarrhea in Fidos.
Salmonella can infect their stomachs. And it could also cause miscarriages. As well as blood infections.
Can dogs get sick from sniffing other dogs’ poop?
Dogs can get sick from sniffing other dogs’ poop. They could get viruses and bacteria from it. As well as parasites.
This is called fecal-oral transmission. And parvovirus is usually spread in dogs through this.
It’s also possible for canines to acquire worms this way. Such as roundworms and hookworms.
We can also get sick from it.
This is because most of the diseases above are ‘zoonotic.’ (Except for parvovirus.)
Meaning, they can’t only be transmitted between dogs. As these could also be transferred to us humans.
What to do?
Sniffing is a natural instinct in dogs.
For this, prevention is always better than cure, so:
- Try to keep your dog away from any feces outside.
- Dispose of the stools you see outdoors using a scooper.
- If you have multiple Fidos at home, see to it that you’re tidying any poop as fast you can. And disinfect the area.
- Ensure that your dog’s feet are clean after walks. Wash them with mild soap and lukewarm water. Or get rid of any dirt on their paws and legs using dog grooming wipes.