Are you someone who frequently loves to take their dogs in the woods for a walk, and all you see is their immense love for deer poop! Dogs love to put their nose to the nasty stuff, right?
Some owners have reported no ill effects in their dogs from consuming deer poop, but does it make the deer poop safe to be consumed? No, it can make your dog sick!
This article will help you with all your questions by providing knowledgeable insight!
Can dogs eat deer poop safely?
The short answer is no, and dogs cant consume deer poop safely. Deer droppings do have the potential to transmit both E. coli and chronic wasting disease (CWD).
What does deer poop look like?
In an area where the presence of deer is constant, cleaning up the feces before the dog eats them is a good idea. To help you more, here’s a vivid description of deer poop: pellet- or pill-shaped, also produce solid scats of clumped pellets. They are over an inch in length and dark.
5 Reasons Why Do Dogs Eat Deer Poop
After inspecting the health risks associated with consuming deer poop, the next most important question is why do they eat it in the first place? It’s a primary concern!
At least once in its life, each dog will engage in this poop-eating behavior, and it’s completely normal.
1. Observed other dogs doing it
Dogs learn such disgusting behaviors from their mothers before they go out and learn them from other dogs. About three weeks from the birth of puppies, the mother dog would clean them by licking their feces. So the puppies also engage in such behavior by licking their poop, and other dogs poop from the litter.
There’s a specific term for the act of eating poop:
- Autocoprophagia: eating poop from other dogs
- Allocoprophagia: eating poop from animals such as cats, horses, deer, rabbits, etc.
What about puppies?
When a puppy eats poop, it is considered normal exploring behavior. Some puppies would eat it due to the urge to put everything in their mouth, just like human babies; for other pups, a sniff is enough.
Dogs can sometimes learn this behavior from their owner; while you are cleaning their poop right in front of their eyes, they will mimic this act to impress you. One reason you are told not to clean poop in front of your dogs during the training sessions.
2. Nutrient deficient
A malnourished dog is more likely to put his face in deer poop. This issue would come under Underlying Medical Conditions.
With so many dog food options in the market, there can be massive confusion about which one suits best for your breed, and a wrong choice can slip your dog into such habits.
Let’s see the loopholes in your dog’s diet:
If some ingredients in your dog’s food are hard to digest, their system will not absorb them. Your dog will always be hungry in such circumstances, which means that your dog will eat anything that comes insight.
Need for digestive enzymes:
The feces of deer, horses, and other such herbivorous animals are a good source of digestive enzymes.
Food is broken down into tiny pieces by digestive enzymes to fuel vital bodily functions in your dog’s digestive system. When dogs are deprived of such enzymes in their diet, they will be more inclined towards the food that gives them all.
Earlier, the ancestral diet of dogs was a punch of more meat-based proteins and fats, whereas now their diet is richer in carbohydrates and less meat-based proteins.
Therefore, you should spend more time selecting the best dog food for your dog,
3. Do dogs love the taste of deer poop?
Not all dogs are dumb enough to anciently munch on the fresh poop of deer, and some do it purposely! Yes, your dog can eat that deer poop because he likes its taste; on top of that, they prefer the poop to be fresh, not two or three days old.
Though our dogs are carnivorous, you would find them munching grass from your backyard because they have a natural urge to eat grass and veggies.
Now the diet of deer is all about green grass and vegetables, dogs can smell it, and eventually, it’s hard to resist.
The powerful smelling sense of our dog is a thousand times better than humans, so basically, they know more about the poop content than you.
4. Your dog can be bored or anxious
The power of being anxious or bored can get humans into all sorts of crazy and scary stuff depending upon the level of insanity, and you can say the same for our dogs! Deer poop eating can be seen as a displacement behaviour.
Dogs can feel anxiousness in the following situations:
1. Separation anxiety
When dogs are separated from their guardians or the people they are attached to develop separation anxiety. This kind of behaviour is widespread in dogs of any age. Separation anxiety will make your dog frightened to be alone in the house, and it is entirely different from everyday anxiety issues.
As soon as you leave them alone, to cope with the anxious feeling, they will get involved in destructive behaviour, weird unexplained behaviour such as eating poop, and the list would go on.
But separation anxiety can be cured in dogs if you discover the root cause.
2. General anxiety
Lack of social or physical activity(boredom)
Adopting a dog is a job full of responsibility. You need to take care of its food, sleep, exercise, and a good amount of play. Bad behaviour shows up when a dog is deprived of these!
Especially when a dog is left in his kennel for too long, they develop a habit of eating poop. Try spending more time with your dog; take them out from isolation and boredom.
5. Coprophagia in dogs
The practice of eating stool is known as coprophagia. In dogs, this is not considered abnormal behaviour. Mother dogs tend to eat the poop of their puppies as a survival benefit, as it prevents the nest from becoming unhygienic.
Usually, the puppies pick up the poop-eating habit from their birth mothers; however, most of them grow out of this habit after one year.
So the coprophagia becomes a problem in puppies that are slow learners. Later on, it can be nature, nurture, or a combination of factors that trigger this conduction in dogs.
Dear Poop: Can It Make Your Dog Sick?
Yes, dogs can get sick from eating dog poop; most of the time, it’s not about the poop but its content. Some owners state that they have witnessed no adverse health issues in their dogs after eating deer poop; some do!
That’s major because of what’s on the inside; here are a few harmful contents found in deer poop:
1. Intestinal parasites
Coccidia or roundworm and whipworms are a few parasites found in deer poop. If your dog is unlucky enough to consume such parasites with deer poop, they will face a great deal of discomfort.
The vet might suggest some anti-parasite medication for this conduction.
If the deer poop contains the Leptospira bacteria, and your poor dog happens to eat it, he can quickly get infected. Mainly, leptospirosis is a disease, and any wild animal can get infected by it; later, they spread this by drinking water from a shared space, urinating in the soil, etc.
Sings of leptospirosis in dogs:
In some dogs, there may or may not be any symptoms of leptospirosis, while in others, there could be a mild to severe illness and even death in the worst-case scenario.
- Increased thirst
- Muscle tenderness
- Change in the frequency of urination
- Loss of appetite
The list is quite long, but we have given you enough signs to watch out for in your dogs, especially if they have eaten deer poop.
Note: if you take your dog to the vet after a history of exposure, there are chances of a speedy recovery.
3. Tooth decay
The simple math is that when dogs eat deer poop, the bacteria in them will rot your dog’s teeth, so don’t leave them unsupervised!
6 ways to stop your dog from eating poop!
To avoid further accidents of your dog eating deer poop, all you need to do is follow the below-mentioned steps,
1. Know why your dog is eating deer poop
Knowing the cause behind such a motive is also necessary rather than only finding its cure! Dogs may get engaged in weird activities, but it’s our job to find the reasons behind it.
We have mentioned above all the possible reasons for your dog to munch on deer poop, and now it’s your job to find the right one and take the necessary steps.
2. Fulfill the nutritional requirements
Dogs need special care when it comes to the food choices we make. Don’t just go for any food that’s available in the market!
Know the basic needs of your breed, how many calories, nutrition, protein, and healthy fats they require according to their age, weight, and activity level.
Especially, a malnourished dog is more likely to engage in poop eating behavior! So make sure that your dog is getting all the necessary nutritional values.
You can add the following things to your dog’s diet:
- Vitamin supplements
- Enzyme supplements
3. Distract your dog
Your dog must keep the focus on you no matter what; with planning and management, you can teach your dog to listen to all your commands.
Distraction training: take your dog’s favorite toy and keep it on the floor quite farther than usual and command him to stay. Bring the toy closer if he agrees to the command and acts as a good boy.
After then, keep the toy in your hand. Toss it in your hand after that. Toss the toy past your dog as a final test. This form of training may take weeks to complete, but it will help to boost your dog’s confidence as they improve.
This is the easiest way of distraction training, and once your dog can follow all commands, you can take him out freely.
4. Bitter tasting spray
We would suggest you correct your dog’s poop-eating behavior with the proper training and medical attention if they need any. The last resort should be a bitter-tasting spray, which is to be sprayed on the poop off deer to make it taste horrible.
5. Keep your dog busy
If a dog is left on its own for most of the day, there are 100% chances to get involved in poop eating habits. Therefore, it’s very necessary to:
- To stimulate his senses
- Eliminate boredom at home
- To foster a healthy lifestyle with regular exercises
- To bring him on travels, so he’s not left alone at home
How to make the above mention points effective:
- Take out time to play with your dog.
- Take them out on regular walks.
- Buy dog toys.
- Keep treating your dogs with their favorite and special treats to encourage good behavior.
6. Change your routine, maybe:
We know this might look like an escape solution, but It’s for the best if your dog doesn’t respond well to the above-mentioned ways. This will work as a preventive measure!
How should you wash your dog’s mouth after he’s eaten deer poop?
Once you catch your dog eating deer poop, the next thing you can do is clean their mouth as a prevention measure.
- Brush your dog’s teeth
- Wash your dog’s mouth with wipes.
Though dog saliva is a natural cleaner, by doing this you can eradicate the foul smell, as well as spread off any disease in your home.
1. Can dogs catch worms from eating deer poop?
Unfortunately, yes, if the deer is infected it can give your dog worms.
2. Can dogs pick up bacteria from eating deer poop?
Yes, Deer poop can carry bacteria such as Salmonella and E.coli, so your deer can pick up bacteria from eating poop.
3. Can dogs catch viruses from deer poop?
The majority of viral illnesses spread by deer excrement are dangerous to other ruminants, such as livestock. They pose a very low risk to dogs, so the short answer is no.
4. Can dogs get giardia from deer poop?
If you have a healthy dog, the chances of catching severe giardia are low. But yes, they can still catch giardia from eating deer poop.
There are a lot of better things for your dog to munch on, no owner would appreciate its pal for munching onto fresh deer poop. It’s better to keep your dog occupied enough to understand the difference between a good and bad play!
In this article, we have exhaustively gone through the risk and reasons of your dog eating deer poop. As a sensible pet parent, you need to detect the issue and work on it. Both mental and physical issues play an important role in forming and breaking such habits.
We hope that this article was helpful!
Dr. Aram Baker has been with Santa Clarita Animal Hospital since 1995 and his special interests include behaviour medicine and dermatology. He graduated from the Cleveland Humanities Magnet Program in Reseda, CA and attended California State University at Northridge where he received a Bachelor’s degree in biology. He went on to pursue his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine at the University of California at Davis. He also spent time in the zoological medicine department at U.C. Davis during his Junior and Senior years. He is dedicated to caring for all pets big or small, young or old with compassion, patience, kindness, and love.