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Image of a fox in a field for article on why do dogs roll in fox poo

Why do dogs roll in fox poo?

Dogs rolling in fox poo is a common and puzzling behaviour that has long intrigued pet owners.

Understanding why dogs roll in fox poo and how to manage this behaviour is part of responsible pet ownership. Focusing on engaging walks and effective training can lead to a more pleasant walking experience without the unwanted and frankly disgusting fragrance of fox poo.

Brief summary

  • Dogs roll in fox poo for sensory stimulation, possibly as an evolutionary tactic for scent masking or communication.
  • Speak to your vet if your dog eats fox poo, and discuss preventive measures like regular worming.
  • Recognisable by its dark, twisted appearance, knowing what fox poo looks like helps owners steer their dogs clear.
  • Thorough cleaning is vital for health reasons; methods include tomato ketchup for the smell and a full bath.
  • Engaging walks, obedience training, and consistent recall exercises help prevent dogs from rolling in fox poo.

Why do dogs like fox poo?

Dogs are often drawn to fox poo due to their strong sense of smell. Fox poo has a potent, distinctive odour that can be intriguing to dogs. This behaviour might be an evolutionary survival tactic, helping to mask a dog's scent from predators or prey. There's also a theory that rolling in strong smells like fox poo could be a way for dogs to communicate with other animals or mark their territory. Some experts also believe that dogs might find the act of rolling in fox poo enjoyable or stimulating, giving them a sensory or dopamine rush. Perhaps this odd behaviour is a combination of all of these reasons.

What to do if your dog eats fox poo

If your dog eats fox poo, it's important to act quickly due to the risk of parasites and bacteria. Contact your vet for advice. Ensure your dog is up-to-date with worming treatments, as fox poo can contain harmful parasites. Pet Health Club members get this as part of their membership. Keep an eye on your dog for any signs of illness, such as diarrhoea or changes in behaviour, and call your vet if you notice any concerning symptoms. Preventative measures, like effective recall training and keeping your dog on a lead in high-risk areas, can help avoid these incidents. More information on this can be found in the article about lungworm in dogs.

Read more: Dog vaccinations: keeping your puppy happy and healthy

What does fox poo look like?

Fox poo is distinct and recognisable. It typically appears as dark and twisted and often contains remnants of what the fox has been eating, such as berries, fur, or seeds. It's usually about 5-10cm long and about 1-2cm in diameter. The poo is often left in prominent places, like on rocks or along paths, as foxes use it to mark their territory. Being familiar with its appearance can help dog owners recognise and steer their dogs away from it during walks. The image below is typical of the fox poo you'd find on a walk in the UK.

fox poo for article on why do dogs roll in fox poo

What to do if your dog rolls in fox poo

As we've already said, fox poo carries parasites and bacteria harmful to both dogs and humans. Cleaning your dog thoroughly after a fox poo incident is essential for health reasons. For more tips on grooming and caring for your dog, check out how to groom your dog.

Read more: Everything you ever wanted to know about dog mites

How to stop your dog rolling in fox poo

To prevent your dog from rolling in fox poo, try to keep your walks engaging and interesting. Use toys and play to keep your dog's attention. Practice obedience commands in various settings, especially 'leave it' and 'recall'. Teach 'leave it' using treats and rewards for avoiding unwanted items. Recall training for dogs should be consistent and rewarding, ensuring your dog comes back immediately when called. Regular exercise and engaging walks can significantly reduce the likelihood of your dog indulging in this undesirable behaviour. 

What's the best way to clean fox poo from a dog?

Wipes can be used for quick clean-ups but may only partially eliminate the smell. Tomato ketchup is an effective home remedy for neutralising the fox poo smell. However, caution is advised as it may tint dogs with porous coats. For a thorough cleaning, gloves (preferably latex-free to avoid potential allergies) and a good scrub in the bath are recommended. No quick fix completely replaces a proper bath, especially after your dog has rolled in something as smelly as fox poo. If you need help on how to bathe your dog check out our article.

dog wit tomato ketchup bottle for article on why dogs roll in fox poop

Need more info?

For more information on dog hygiene, speak to your local vet or vet nurse. 

Find your nearest vet using our find a vet page, or speak to one of our vets online using our video vets service.