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Admit it or not, as much as we love our dogs, there is one behavior that seems to bother us (and disgusts us) for the longest time. For so many years, we ask: “Why do our beloved dogs eat their poop?” It is super hard to reconcile the look of the cute looking canine who is perfect for cuddling and idea that he or she just finished a hot pile moments ago when you were out for a walk. Why can’t they smell the disgusting staunch of feces when they supposedly have this super acute sense of smell.

More questions bother us—and experts try to explain this dog behavior. According to experts, poop eating is scientifically referred to as “Coprophagia”. This is regarded as a normal dog behavior, and has been observed since time and age. According to a study (publication in a Veterinary Medicine and Science Journal), this dog behavior is often connected to instinct modern day dogs have inherited from wolves– their wild ancestors.

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Looking further into the studies, specifically one led by Dr. Benjamin Hart, a renowned veterinarian, wolves practiced eating of feces of their other pack members—specifically those of elderly and sickly pack members who couldn’t leave their hideouts or dens. Surprisingly, it is observed that wolves and dogs in general do not want a dirty living place. So in order to assure their dens’ living conditions, they ate poop instead. It might be a funny thing to consider but it’s just how it goes for them.

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With this, Dr. Hart (who also happens to Head of Center for Animal Behavior at the University of California) said this behavior has helped wolves to cleanse their stomachs off worms and other parasites. The presence of fecal matter inside the stomach of the dogs prevents the worms and other parasites from developing. Although dogs may not know this particular rationale as they go about this eating behavior, experts say the wild dogs were provided with some sort of comfort after some time of eating feces.

Experts also links the poop eating to the nature of dogs as scavengers.  According to the book The Domestic Dog: Its Evolution, dogs as scavengers would eat almost anything- unfortunately even feces. This behavior is just an instinct remnant.

Another plausible explanation for this poop eating behavior is the fact that dogs (and other pets) sometimes have a hard time breaking down their food, meaning their waste can be misplaced as second hand food or left overs. It sounds weird but this is what it seems to be a good explanation for this behavior. Also linking to dogs being natural scavengers, they would see other dog’s poop as scraps.

Let’s just face this fact: Coprophagia, although it may be a little difficult to understand or accept, is a normal thing about dogs. With this, we still have to remember that what they eat greatly affect their health—and it is still better to consult a vet about it.

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