So, your dog eats poop. Is it deviant? Or an elegant evolutionary solution?
In this podcast, Jane and Mark look at the research and talk about the possible functions of poop-eating, what works and does not work to stop it, and why.
We won’t say you’ll come away happy that your dog eats poop, but for sure you’ll see it in a different light.
Referenced Courses and Titles
Further reading and citations to the referenced studies and findings
The Paradox of Canine Conspecific Coprophagy - Veterinary Medicine and Science. 4. 10.1002/vms3.92.
Hart, Benjamin & Hart, Lynette & Thigpen, Abigail & Tran, Alisha & Bain, Melissa. (2018).
UC Davis study of stool-eating dogs that examined the effectiveness of various methods to stop stool eating and also looked at correlations between stool eating and other behaviors.
Gastric Acidity, Digesting Bones, Gut Transit Time and Salmonella - Vets All Natural
Article on the canine digestive system and the acidic properties of the canine digestive tract.
I found this fragment copied onto a number of websites without any attribution, nor were the studies linked or the citations included. I did search up the studies cited and linked them (with one exception). I was unable to find where the original text came from but I’m including it because it’s out there already many times and it’s a great summary of the workings of the canine digestive system. If anyone knows the original source, please let me know - I would be delighted to include attribution.
“…The dog has a simple, very acidic gut, typical of a carnivore, designed to process large quantities of meat and bone. At it's most acidic (during digestion) the dog's gut can reach below pH1.0, equivalent to car battery acid, a level it can remain at for 5 hours (Itoh et al. 1980, Sagawa et al., 2009). Youngberg et al. (1985) found the average gastric pH of dogs ranges from pH1.5 ranging to pH2.1 a couple of hours after consuming a meal, when gastric juices would be in full flow. At this sort of acidity a meat and bone is rapidly broken down, often reduced to chyme within an hour (Lonsdale, 2001). Furthermore, this acidic environment is inhospitable to all but the most specialized of microbiology, protecting healthy scavenging dogs from common meat-borne pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli. Great quantities of mucous protect the dog from doing itself damage. Post-digestion the stomach will abruptly change to neutral, presumably to neutralise the corrosive acid before it hits the duodenum and intestines that are less equipped to withstand the corrosive power of a pH1 acid broth. Data on dry-fed dogs cite the pH of food bolus to rise to a near neutral pH6-7 in the duodenum (Itoh et al., 1980; Sagawa et al., 2009) but as high as pH 8.3 by the time it reaches the colon. There is little data available for dogs fed a fresh meat meal. It is well established omnivores have less acidic digestive juices than carnivores due to their larger inclusion of alkaline-forming legumes and vegetables. Carnivores on the other hand spend their time eating protein and fat and the more protein in a meal, the lower the stomach pH (Carpentier et al. 1988) [note from Jane: an abstract was unavailable for this study but I did find this study that referenced it.]…
The Role of the Canine Gut Microbiome and Metabolome in Health and Gastrointestinal Disease
- Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Rachel Pilla and Jan S. Suchodolski
Study on the role of canine gut biome in health and gastrointestinal disease, where authors hypothesize that coprophagia inoculates the gut of the stool-eating dogs.
Fecal Microbiota Transplantation in Puppies with Canine Parvovirus Infectio
- Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Giorgio Q. Pereira, Lucas A. Gomes, Iago S. Santos, Alice F. Alfieri, J. S. Weese, Marcio C. Costa
Jane Messineo Lindquist (Killion) is the director of "Puppy Culture the Powerful First Twelve Weeks That Can Shape Your Puppies' Future" as well as the author of "When Pigs Fly: Training Success With Impossible Dogs" and founder of Madcap University.