Why do our pets eat poop?
The act of eating feces, also known as coprophagia, is common in the animal kingdom. From flies to elephants, many species will actively seek out feces for consumption. Our beloved pets are no exceptions. To answer this question, we must consider the condition of the gastrointestinal system.
Within the guts of every organism contains thousands to billions of beneficial bacteria working in harmony to help regulate metabolism, absorb necessary nutrients, and support the immune system. In fact, a good portion of our immune system comes from our guts (also called a micro-biome or biome) as it produces important antibodies known as immunoglobulins. Although it’s unknown what every bacteria strain does, what is known is that a healthy body has a healthy gut environment.
Unfortunately in today’s society, the biome of our pet’s and our own are exposed to many damaging modern chemicals. From the fluoride in the drinking water to the lingering pesticides on conventional food, these chemicals harm the microbes in the body. Even disinfecting cleansers can damage the micro-biome, as the chemicals used in those wipes destroy all bacteria, good and bad.
Once the community of microbes becomes imbalanced, our pets (and ourselves) must find a way to restore the micro-biome. How do we do that? By ingesting the beneficial bacteria.
Just as we eat yogurt and other food to obtain pro-biotics, our pets can consume their pro-biotics from a diet of raw meat, fruits, and vegetables. They can also ingest the feces of other pets with a healthy gut in order to re-balance their biome. You see, part of a pet’s micro-biome is excreted with the digested and undigested food material. That stool then becomes valuable to any pet that needs to reinstate his or her own biome. In a way, pets that eat feces may be attempting to self-medicate their digestive upsets.
Animals are not the only organisms that use poop for medicine. The first recorded use of stools for treating
digestive issues began in 4th century China. In the 17th century, a German physician named Dr. Christian Franz Paullini created a stool recipe book for treating dysentery and other gastrointestinal illnesses. Currently in the United States, fecal enemas are used to treat resistant Clostridium difficile infections with a 93% success rate, all thanks to Dr. Ben Eiseman who started the innovative treatments in 1958.
It is safe to say that to restore your pet’s health is to restore its guts. That’s why eating the poop of a healthy animal will hopefully revive a sick pet by reinstating the guts with beneficial microbes.