Your German Shepherd eats poop at every occasion they get…
It’s embarassing, worrying… and disgusting.
But your German Shepherd acts as if it’s the most tasty thing in the world! Is this even normal?
And most improtantly, how do you stop it?
Keep reading to find out:
- What your dog is feeling that made him act this way.
- How your dog’s health is associated with poop-eating.
- What other factors make dogs eat their feces and how to stop it.
- 9 easy things you can do immediately after your dog snacked on poop.
- And much much more…
Table of contents
Why does my German Shepherd eat poop?
Your German Shepherd eats poop because of health and behavioral reasons. Health conditions include malnutrition, malabsorption issues, and diseases like Cushing’s syndrome and diabetes. For behavioral, it may be an acquired behavior, or may be due to anxiety, stress, and imitation of other dogs.
People also ask:
7 reasons why your German Shepherd eats poop
#1: Innate behavior
Coprophagia, or poop-eating, is natural in dogs. They are food-seekers in nature. And the food they scavenge includes poop!
German Shepherds, and dogs in general, inherited this behavior from their wild wolf ancestors. And it is originally an aversion to feces that they have.
So, why do they eat poop if they don’t like it?
Veterinarian Benjamin Hart, Center of Animal Behavior at Davis, led a 2018 study that aims to explain why this is so.
The study revealed that even with wolves’ aversion to feces, they still eat it. This is to get rid of parasite eggs in poop.
Specifically, they only eat poop that is not older than 2 days. If feces is left longer than that, the eggs may hatch into larvae. And this can potentially infect their pack members.
#2: Undigested food particles
If you think poop is disgusting, your German Shepherd does not. It can be as tasty as the last meal he ate.
Yes, your dog’s feces usually contain food particles from the last thing you fed him. And these particles are closer to their original state when gobbled up in a matter of seconds.
Eating quickly prevents food from getting digested properly. This is the reason why some of it remains intact in their digestive system. And even so when dogs move their bowels.
Some of the most common food particles that are not easy to digest are vegetables. But it can also be meat, something that your canine buddy loves to eat.
So, make sure you check if your dog digests his food well. Take a look at his poop!
When you don’t feed your German Shepherd enough or give him an imbalanced diet, he will be malnourished. Your dog’s food might lack vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin B.
These nutrients are essential so your dog can function properly. But when your furry pal does not get the right nourishment, his metabolism will slow down. And it will impair his body functions.
But, you don’t see your dog looking thin and hungry. He might be snacking on poop – something that can provide the missing nutrients that his body needs.
Coprophagia is one way your dog solves his hunger. And it also addresses the bigger problem of malnutrition.
Yet, munching on his dump is a quick solution. Your fur buddy needs the vet, not to mention better meals.
Is your dog malnourished? These signs will help you know.
- Dull coat.
- Bad breath.
- Weakness or lethargy.
- Changes in appearance.
- Hair loss or excessive shedding.
#4: Absorption Issues
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) is a maldigestion and malabsorption syndrome. It is quite common in German Shepherds.
This dog breed comprises two-thirds of study cases identified with EPI, as revealed in the discussion of Edward J. Hall, MA, VetMD, PhD from the University of Bristol, Department of Clinical Veterinary Science.
Symptoms of this condition include:
- Weight loss.
- Dry, scurfy coat.
- Ravenous hunger.
- Foul-smelling, watery stool.
Dogs who suffer from the above symptoms become very hungry and are more likely to feast on anything. Poop included.
When your German Shepherd starts eating poop, it might be a sign of a medical condition. He might be sick with Cushing’s Syndrome or diabetes.
According to WebMD, Cushing’s syndrome happens when your dog’s body makes too much cortisol. This chemical is important in many body functions.
But too much of it causes a serious problem.
It could result in the following:
- Frequent urination.
- Increased thirst and hunger.
- Hair loss or slow growth of hair.
On another note, diabetes occurs when your dog has a problem with insulin. This condition shows increased sugar levels, just like with diabetic humans.
Similarly to people, dogs can also get excessively thirsty and hungry.
And with these kinds of diseases, the hunger that dogs experience leads to coprophagia.
#6: Stress and anxiety
Just like humans, German Shepherds also feel negative emotions. They experience stress and anxiety in the face of unfavorable situations.
And when they do, they won’t be able to focus and relax.
However, while people usually indulge in fun and relaxing activities to de-stress, dogs do it differently.
If people go shopping or take vacations, one way your German Shepherd copes with stress is by turning his attention to feces. And this is when coprophagia happens.
There are several factors that may cause stress and anxiety in dogs. And it can influence them to engage in gross poop-eating.
- Seeking attention.
- Feeding near feces.
- Being kept in isolation.
- Confinement in small spaces.
- Harsh punishment during house training.
#7: Imitation (Influence of other dogs)
A survey revealed that 16% of dogs, in general, are coprophagic, while 24% have eaten poop at least once.
And one important factor for this stinky act is the influence of other dogs.
And who is the most influential to your pooch? His mother, of course.
Mother dogs are known to eat their youngs’ wastes. They lick the puppies as a way of encouraging them to pass their bowels. And when the little ones do, mommy dog will clean them up by eating their feces.
Because of this, puppies develop the habit of eating poop. They smell fecal matter on mom’s breath and would also eat regurgitated food mixed with poop!
But it is not only mommy who is at fault.
Having more than one German Shepherd, or several dog breeds, under one roof leads to imitation. It is not surprising if they begin to act alike or share the same habits, like snacking on poop.
7 tips on what to do if your German Shepherd eats poop
So you caught him in the act! Your four-legged pal is snacking on poop! What’s the next thing you should do?
Stop him, of course!
While veterinarians like Dr. Hart revealed that eating poop is natural for canines, it is still important to end the behavior.
Well, for one, you would not want to kiss and cuddle with a pooch that reeks of stinking feces!
But that is the least of your concerns.
You will want to put an end to your German Shepherd’s poop-eating habit because it is dangerous. It can cause serious health issues, such as parasitic infections.
Now, here’s what you can do about it:
#1: Identify the reason for your dog’s behavior
The key to an effective solution is identifying the problem.
Why is your German Shepherd buddy feasting on disgusting feces?
Is he eating enough? And getting all the nutrients that his body needs? Are you giving him enough attention? Or maybe he is suffering from a medical condition?
Prompt identification of what is causing the problem is crucial in solving it. And pinning down the reason will help you develop a successful plan that will curb your fur baby’s craving for poop.
#2: Take your dog to the vet
Smelling feces on your dog’s breath will make you want to throw up. But more than that, it will frighten you.
“Did he just eat poop? Why? What is wrong with my furbaby?”
If you don’t know the answers, take your German Shepherd to the vet. A proper health check will reveal things that will help you understand why your dog is acting that way.
More importantly, you will be able to find out whether your canine buddy is suffering from an illness or not. And you can help him before it gets too late.
From there, you and the vet can develop a plan of action that can help your dog, like giving the necessary medications and administering proper treatments.
#3: Provide a healthy, balanced diet
Is underfeeding or malnourishment the reason for your dog’s coprophagia? If it is, then the solution is easy.
All you have to do is provide a complete and balanced meal for your big buddy.
And what is a German Shepherd’s balanced diet composed of?
- 1740-2100 calories per day.
- Omega 3 fatty acids from vegetables.
- Healthy fat from sources that contain fish oil.
- Small amounts of digestible carbohydrates from barley, oats, and rice.
- High-quality protein from whole meat sources like beef and organ meats.
#4: Give supplements
Dogs eat poop because their food may lack important vitamins and minerals. The most common deficiency is that of Vitamin B.
If this is the case, consider this:
What is in the food you give your German Shepherd? Do you feed him enough? Does he need supplements?
Consult your vet to find the answers. Then, you can give your pooch the proper supplements he needs to stay healthy and fit.
Note: You can give enzyme supplements if your dog’s diet is low in meat-based proteins and fats but high in carbohydrates.
#5: Keep your dog’s living environment clean
When your furry friend’s surrounding is clean and free from mess, there won’t be anything for him to pick up and munch on.
This does not only refer to the inside of the house. The yard also needs to be kept clean, especially if this is where your dog takes his dump.
As soon as your German Shepherd does his business, pick up his poop. This might sound like the simplest and most obvious thing to do.
But it’s often one of the most effective methods to unteach your German Shepherd from eating his poop.
Note: If you have a cat, keep the litter box clean and out of the big pooch’s reach.
#6: Always supervise your German Shepherd
Giving your canine pal enough attention is one great way of keeping him engaged. He won’t get bored easily, too.
Because when he gets bored, he can start munching on anything he finds, poop included.
But, attention alone is not enough to keep your pooch away from poop. Proper supervision is essential in stopping coprophagia.
Distract the eager canine when he starts sniffing on something debatable. And keep him away from places where there is bound to be dirt and poop.
Note: Put your German Shepherd on a leash when you go on walks. But also give him time to run freely in a safe environment, a dog park, for example. And don’t forget to pick up after him.
#7: Avoid punishment
Just like humans, dogs feel fear, too, especially when they get punished. And the best way to avoid this feeling is not to punish them.
If a German Shepherd is punished for pooping in the house, he may eat his poop in order to get rid of it. This is his attempt to remove the reason which he gets punished for.
So, instead of punishing your dog, you can potty train him more effectively.
Because if you are too hard on him, you can ruin your relationship. And chances are this will only worsen your dog’s behavior.
Note: Teach your German Shepherd the “leave it” and “come” command. When you successfully do this, your big buddy will slowly ignore his waste after taking a dump. Reward him with a quick treat when he comes to you afterward.
BONUS: After your German Shepherd eats poop, do this
If you found out, your German Shepherd just ate poop, clean his mouth as soon as possible. It will remove the taste of feces, and he won’t look for it anytime soon.
Here’s how to do it:
- Give your dog some food and water. This will make him salivate, allowing him to naturally wash his own mouth.
- Let your dog chew on a dental stick or treat. This is an effective way of cleaning your dog’s mouth, as well as clear his teeth from debris.
- You can use a wet cloth to clean your dog’s mouth. Just be careful not to push your fingers too far in or your dog might gag.
It is uncomfortable, disgusting, and quite disappointing to know that your German Shepherd is eating poop.
But remember, dogs are inclined to do it.
Don’t worry too much, though.
Once you put the tips above into action, your dog will surely steer away from the unwanted behavior. And you’ll be able to resume the kisses and cuddles.
Just make sure you couple your actions with patience, understanding, and love for your best buddy. 🙂