Why Do Dogs Eat Deer Poop?

October 14, 2022 / Behavior / By: iPupster

My Dog Ate Deer Poop

Deer are peaceful and inquisitive animals. If you live in a region of the United States where deer roam freely, chances are you see them all the time. These animals are frightened of humans, and many of them will walk right up to you.

However, with free-ranging deer prancing through your backyard, they tend to feed on your shrubs, trees, and other plants in the yard. They also leave poop behind, and that can be a problem for dog owners.

A deer's diet consists of plant matter, so we would assume it's harmless. If you wander out onto the lawn in the morning to see your dog munching on a pile of deer droppings, it's not something you should let slide. Why do dogs eat deer poop? What makes deer poop so tantalizing that dogs lower themselves to dining on the excretions of other animals.

Sure, we've all seen dogs eat poop before, and it's not such an uncommon thing. However, it could have serious consequences. This post will look at why eating deer poop is not a good thing for your pet

If your dog has eaten deer poop and he is acting abnormally or suffering coprophagia-like symptoms such vomiting and diarrhea, be sure to consult with your veterinarian.

Help! My Dog Ate Deer Poop. Should I Be Worried?

That's a loaded question. If it's a one-off thing, you probably don't have to concern yourself. However, if you notice it becoming repetitive behavior, you have a problem you need to deal with right away.

If your dog decides to dine on the occasional deer poop, it's disgusting, but it's probably not going to do them much harm, provided they are up-to-date on all vaccines. Deer dropping contains vegetation like grass, leaves, and other roughage that's essential for the health of your dog's digestive system.

It's for this reason that you see dogs eating grass from time to time. They need it for fiber to help them keep the gut moving. However, deer poop is a fiber source. It's not ideal for your dog to start eating it regularly.

Sure, the fiber sounds great, but another side to deer poop makes it potentially dangerous for dogs. Deer are wild animals, and during its life cycle, it encounters parasites. As a part of the natural life cycle for wild animals, parasites come as part of the parcel – lie it or not. Several parasites cause tremendous damage to your dog's digestive system and internal organs.

There are several varieties of worms that you'll find in deer poop, and if your dog isn't up-to-date on its shots, you risk a worm infestation. Worms are horrible parasites, and your dog can spread the eggs to you by licking your face or hands.

Deer are also a carrier of the Lone Star tick, the insect responsible for spreading the notorious "Lyme Disease". There's a chance there could be ticks around the poop, and they might latch onto your dog, causing infection.

Other dangers posed by deer ticks and fleas include the spread of tularemia or – even worse – bubonic plague (yup, it's that serious).

Deer in the backyard

Parasites are a problem with deer, and so are bacteria and viruses. These pathogens reside in the digestive tract, and the deer passes them in its poop. Leptospirosis bacteria can cause kidney and liver damage in your dog, making them very sick.

Many intestinal parasites and bacteria feature zoonotic transfer to humans, allowing your dog to unintentionally infect your with a range of nasty problems due to its habit of eating deer poop.

Dogs that eat the feces of other animals can unintentionally infect themselves over-and-over again. Some of the dangerous parasites that come with eating poop include coccidia, giardia, whipworms, and roundworms.

Take Note

Ensure your dog is up-to-date on all canine vaccines, and give them a deworming course at least once a year to prevent parasite infestation.

Why Does My Dog Eat Deer Poop?

There are several reasons why dogs develop the desire to dine on deer droppings.

You need to understand the behavior and its triggers before you can prevent your dog from eating poop. Eating poop is a condition known as "Coprophagia".

Coprophagia describes poop-eating behavior in dogs, and they might enjoy eating poop from various animals, like cats, dogs, and deer.

So, what causes this unusual behavior in your pet? Here are a few reasons why your dog might dream of that deer-poop banquet.

  • Your dog's stomach lacks digestive enzymes, and they eat the poop as a fiber source.
  • Your dog is dealing with an intestinal parasite infestation.
  • Your dog is not getting the nutrition it needs from its food, and the mineral imbalance causes them to look to other sources.
  • Your dog is not getting enough calories in its meals, and you're under-feeding the animal.
  • Medical disorders and conditions like Cushing's disease and diabetes can cause poop eating behavior.
  • Attention-seeking behavior, boredom, stress, and anxiety can cause coprophagia in dogs.
  • Copying the behavior of other dogs is also a primary cause of the disorder.
  • Incorrect puppy training – you can train your dog out of this behavior early.
  • Curiosity – your dog might see the poop, find the smell intriguing, and then decides to snack on it.
  • Your dog has a thyroid problem.

Puppy Ate Deer Poop. Will He Be Sick?

symptoms of dog eating poop

Deer poop resemble pellets that have an indentation on one end and point on the other.

As mentioned, if your puppy dines on a few droppings once-off, it's probably not going to harm them, provided they have their shots. However, if the behavior starts occurring regularly, it's almost a guarantee your dog will begin experiencing health issues.

As mentioned, the parasites and bacteria found in deer poop can cause digestive disorders in your dog and worm infestations.

If you don't pay attention to your dog, and you don't notice the signs of coprophagia, then you're probably going to wonder what's wrong with them when they start getting sick.

Some of the classic hallmarks of coprophagia include the following clinical signs in dogs:

  • Stomach aches that cause whimpering and discomfort
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Intestinal parasite infections
  • Digestive tract infections

While deer poop itself doesn’t represent much of a serious risk to your dog, the actual deer may be dangerous.

If you suspect Fido is chowing down on deer poop and its causing health problems, take them to the vet for diagnosis. The vet orders a wide variety of tests and conducts a physical exam on your dog.

It's possible to stop coprophagia behavior in your dog with some lifestyle changes.

  • Always keep your dog on a leash when walking in parks that might have deer poop.
  • If your home has deer roaming through it, check the lawn every day for poop.
  • Keep treats on hand outside to distract your dog from eating poop.
  • Change your dog's diet based on your vet's advice.

If you follow the vet's advice and keep your dog away from poop, you should be able to change their behavior and avoid them dealing with the illness that comes with coprophagia.

Symptoms of Dog Eating Deer Poop

Coprophagia produces several symptoms in dogs. Most of them vary in severity, depending on your dog's condition, the type of poop they're eating, and how much of it they eat during the day.

According to vets, if your dog eats poop for more than five days in a row, they are dealing with a case of coprophagia. Some dogs deal with the changes in their digestive system and don't display symptoms right away.

However, they are still at risk of parasitic infections, and the infestation may get out of control before you notice it. Parasites can spread to you and your family through contact with your dog. The last thing you need is you're your kids to come down with roundworm, tapeworm, or hookworm infections.

However, if your dog is up-to-date on their shots, they shouldn't experience any issues with worms. However, there are other exotic parasites your dog might pick up when eating deer poop.

Some of the common symptoms your dog experiences due to the onset of coprophagia include digestive disorders like cramping, pain, vomiting, or diarrhea. If your dog displays these symptoms for more than 12-hours, take them to the vet for diagnosis.

Some dogs may also display behavior where they refuse to eat or only eat half the normal portion. Other dogs may become lethargic with the disorder, refusing to listen to your commands.

How to Stop Dogs Eating Deer Feces?

It's possible to get your dog to stop eating deer poop. You don't need any drugs; all you need is to spend some time and effort in looking after your animal to change their behavior.

Try the following ideas to get your dog to stop dining on that delicious, delectable, divine deer poop.

Supervise your dog when outside: To prevent and reduce the chances of your dog consuming deer poop, try and supervise him in the backyard

Train your dog: Take them to a training academy when they're young, and you can prevent them from getting food from other sources other than the dinner bowl. Teach him the "drop it" or "leave it" command and practice it regularly. 

Rule out medical conditions: Take your pup to the vet for a checkup.

Use a muzzle: If you're unable to supervise your dog when he goes outdoors, fit him with a muzzle, there are plenty of good muzzles on the market. 

Give your dog attention: Avoid boredom and anxiety that triggers poop-eating behavior by spending time with your furry friend.

Offer nutritious food: Make sure you're feeding your dog a vet-recommended brand, with the right serving quantities. Consider a change with added fresh foods to reduce his desire to eat the droppings.

Work with a canine behaviorist: If all else fails and the problem still persists, contact a canine behaviorist to help address the issue. 

Final Word

Ultimately, your dog’s deer-poop problem isn't likely to lead to serious health issues - if he's up to date with all vaccinations and doesn't excessive amounts. However it still makes sense to discourage your doggo from dining on these “yard treats.” 

Teaching your dog to leave the deer droppings will take some training and a keen eye. Practice the “leave it” or "drop it" command regularly, and reward with an appropriate tasty treat. As long as you keep an eye out for the deer pellets in the back yard, and are prepared with the new command, Fido should listen!

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