Last Updated on May 14, 2023 by The Puppy Mag
I can definitely understand how distressing it can be to witness your Shih Tzu engaging in this rather unsavory behavior.
That’s why I’ve put together this comprehensive guide on why Shih Tzus eat poop, whether or not it’s safe, when you should worry, and how to put an end to this undesirable habit.
So, let’s dive right in and learn everything there is to know about this peculiar behavior.
6 Reasons Why Shih Tzus Eat Poop
First and foremost, let’s talk about the reasons why your Shih Tzu might be snacking on their own waste. There are several potential factors at play here, so let’s break them down one by one:
- Natural Instincts: Canines have evolved from wild animals, and their ancestors would sometimes eat their own feces to keep their environment clean and eliminate any traces that might attract predators. This could be one reason why your Shih Tzu is displaying this behavior.
- Nutritional Deficiencies: If your Shih Tzu is lacking certain nutrients in their diet, they might resort to eating poop in an attempt to make up for it. This is especially common when pets are fed a low-quality or unbalanced diet.
- Curiosity: Sometimes, dogs are simply curious and may try eating poop just to see what it’s like. Puppies, in particular, are more likely to engage in this behavior as they explore their surroundings.
- Boredom: Dogs that don’t receive enough mental stimulation might resort to eating poop as a way to entertain themselves.
- Stress or Anxiety: Eating poop can be a stress-related coping mechanism for some dogs, and Shih Tzus are known to be prone to stress and anxiety.
- Attention Seeking: If your Shih Tzu has learned that eating poop gets a reaction from you, they might continue doing it to get your attention.
How would you know which one relates to your Shih Tzu? Let’s run through this below
Wrong or right? 7 Reasons Shih Tzus are The Worst Dogs
What Is It For Your Shih Tzu?
Now that we’ve covered the possible reasons behind your Shih Tzu’s coprophagia, it’s important to identify the specific cause in your pet’s case to effectively address the issue.
Here are some steps to help you pinpoint the reason:
Rule Out Medical Issues
- Schedule a check-up with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions that could be causing your Shih Tzu to eat poop. Your vet may perform a physical examination, blood tests, or fecal tests to determine if there’s a health issue at play.
Assess Your Shih Tzu’s Diet
- Take a closer look at your pet’s diet to ensure it’s well-balanced and meets their nutritional needs. Consult your veterinarian for recommendations on the best food for your Shih Tzu and consider adding a digestive enzyme supplement if necessary.
Observe Your Shih Tzu’s Behavior and Environment
- Pay close attention to your Shih Tzu’s behavior and environment to identify any potential sources of stress, anxiety, or boredom. Are there any recent changes in their routine or living situation? Is your dog receiving enough mental and physical stimulation?
Monitor Your Shih Tzu’s Interactions with You
- Reflect on how you react when your Shih Tzu eats poop. Are you inadvertently reinforcing the behavior by giving them attention or displaying strong reactions? If so, work on staying calm and redirecting your pet’s attention to more appropriate activities.
Evaluate Your Shih Tzu’s Age and Development
- Keep in mind that puppies are more likely to engage in coprophagia out of curiosity and exploration. If your Shih Tzu is still young, they may naturally grow out of this behavior as they mature.
By taking these steps to identify the specific cause of your Shih Tzu’s poop-eating habit, you’ll be better equipped to address the issue and help your pet develop healthier behaviors.
Remember, it’s crucial to work closely with your veterinarian throughout this process, as they can provide valuable guidance and support tailored to your Shih Tzu’s unique needs.
Is This Behavior Safe or Unsafe?
While eating poop might seem disgusting to us, it’s not always a cause for concern. In most cases, coprophagia (the scientific term for poop-eating) is relatively harmless. However, there are some potential risks involved:
- Parasites: Poop can contain parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms, which can cause a variety of health problems if ingested.
- Bacterial Infections: Feces can also harbor harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli, which can lead to gastrointestinal infections.
- Toxic Substances: If another animal has ingested toxic substances, their feces could contain these toxins and pose a risk to your Shih Tzu if ingested.
To minimize these risks, it’s essential to keep your Shih Tzu up-to-date on their vaccinations, deworming treatments, and other preventive care measures. Additionally, promptly clean up after your pet to reduce the likelihood of them coming into contact with feces.
When to Worry
While coprophagia is generally harmless, there are certain situations where it can be a cause for concern:
- If your Shih Tzu is eating poop frequently and doesn’t seem to be able to stop, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue or behavioral problem.
- If your Shih Tzu develops diarrhea, vomiting, or other signs of gastrointestinal distress after eating poop, consult your veterinarian immediately.
- If you suspect that your Shih Tzu has ingested feces containing parasites, bacteria, or toxins, seek veterinary attention right away.
In general, it’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian if you’re concerned about your Shih Tzu’s poop-eating habit, as they can help determine whether there’s an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.
How to Stop Your Shih Tzu from Eating Poop
Now that we’ve covered the reasons behind this behavior and when to worry, let’s discuss some strategies to help you put an end to your Shih Tzu’s poop-eating habit.
Address Nutritional Deficiencies
- Ensure your Shih Tzu is on a high-quality, well-balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs. Consult with your veterinarian for recommendations on the best food for your pet.
- Consider adding a digestive enzyme supplement to your dog’s diet to help them better absorb nutrients from their food. This can help reduce the likelihood that they’ll seek out poop for additional nutrients.
Increase Mental and Physical Stimulation
- Provide your Shih Tzu with plenty of toys, puzzle feeders, and interactive playtime to keep their mind and body occupied.
- Make sure your Shih Tzu is getting enough exercise to help alleviate boredom and expend excess energy.
Manage Stress and Anxiety
- Identify any sources of stress or anxiety in your Shih Tzu’s environment and work on addressing them. This could include loud noises, changes in routine, or separation anxiety.
- Consider using calming aids such as pheromone diffusers, calming collars, or even calming treats to help your Shih Tzu feel more relaxed and secure in their environment.
Teach the “Leave It” Command
- Train your Shih Tzu to respond to the “leave it” command, which can be used to redirect their attention away from feces and towards more appropriate items.
- For a detailed guide on how to teach this command, visit The American Kennel Club.
Clean Up Promptly
- Be diligent about cleaning up your Shih Tzu’s waste as soon as they’re done doing their business. This will help reduce the opportunity for them to eat their poop.
- Consider using a poop scooper or dog waste bags to make the clean-up process more efficient and hygienic.
Use Deterrent Products
- There are products available, such as taste deterrent sprays, that can be applied to your Shih Tzu’s feces to make them less appealing. Some pet owners have found success with these products, although results may vary.
- For more information on taste deterrents, check out this article from PetMD.
By following these tips and working closely with your veterinarian, you can help put an end to your Shih Tzu’s poop-eating habit and ensure their health and well-being.
Remember, patience and consistency are key, so don’t give up if you don’t see immediate results. With time and effort, your Shih Tzu should eventually learn to leave their poop where it belongs.