Most dog owners taking their dogs for walks in the countryside will have noticed that their beloved pet loves to rub themselves, roll in or even eat fox poo, much to their disgust. There are several reasons and theories for this which we'll explain.
It's worth knowing first of all that smell is much more important to dogs than it is to humans, and their sense of smell much more developed.
Dogs have over 300 million scent receptors in their nose compared to 6 million in humans, and the part of their brain devoted to analysing scent is 40 times bigger than ours, making dogs' sense of smell 10,000 times better than ours.
They seek out and are attracted to strong odours, particularly wee and poo.
Reasons & Theories
The main reason dogs roll in fox poo is an old hunting technique that is rooted in their evolution when dogs wanted to disguise their own scent from prey animals, predators and other competitor species.
Another reason could have been to hide their young from predators.
Yet another theory is that dogs try to cover the scent of fox poo with their own smell by rolling in it.
Lastly it is believed that dogs roll in fox poo simply because they love the smell of it.
Domestic dogs still love intense and pungent odours, much more than clean smells, so it is not surprising to see a dog rolling in poo just after coming back from the groomer or after a bath at home, to get rid of the "clean" smell that is not appealing to them.
Whilst it is not always possible to avoid if you let your dog off the lead when walking in the countryside, it is not advisable to let him go near fox poo, even less eating it or rubing himself in it, as it can carry diseases dangerous for humans.
Dangers of Echinococcosis
Foxes can carry a parasite that can be deadly to humans: echinococcus, tapeworms, 2 to 3 mm long, that live in the intestines of its host and can do a lot of damage, especially when passed on to humans by dogs.
This parasite lays its eggs in its host, which are then excreted in the fox's poo. A dog rubbing in or eating fox poo can therefore become infected with echinococcosis, and in turn pass it on to humans.
Worm your dog (and cats !) regularly with worming tablets containing praziquantel (the only active molecule against echinococcus) every 3 months.
Watch the video by tailored dog food brand Tails.com filmed at DogStroll Doggy Daycare center.