Ever have a dog who would get sick all over your floor, just to eat it all back up again? Curious why your pooch thinks cat puke is a delicacy? Ever wonder WHY dogs eat vomit?
You’re probably thinking, gross Katelyn! Why would you blog about such a distasteful subject as eating vomit? Well, perhaps if you understand WHY our dogs do this, you would be so disturbed by it.
The act of eating regurgitated food stems from the very beginning of life for dogs. After a mom gives birth to a litter of pups, they feed off her milk the first few weeks. About 3-4 weeks later, the pups begin the stage of weaning off mom’s milk. At this time, mother will regurgitate food for her pups to eat, providing easily digestible and chewable nourishment to help transition her litter to solid foods. So at a very young age, dogs learn it is advantageous to eat vomit!
When a pup is hungry, it will stand up and balance itself on it’s hind legs, and dive into mom’s muzzle to stimulate the regurgitation response. In an earlier blog, I mentioned that dogs have a quick reflex to vomit, a survival technique developed in case they were to eat something poisonous or spoiled. So puppy jumps up, reaches in, and makes mom bring up a meal. On a side note, this is when begging behaviors are learned! Ever have a puppy who would beg by dancing and balancing on their back quarters as you would bring the full food bowl closer? This behavior originates from jumping up at mom’s mouth to be fed!
For dogs, some old habits die hard. Many adult dogs continue to eat vomit throughout their life, a behavior that can be hard-wired from the very beginning. Dogs eat vomit, and it’s completely normal AND delicious to them. That’s probably because dogs have about 1/6 of our taste buds, so they are not nearly as sensitive to flavor. This probably explains why Fido doesn’t hesitate to re-eat the pile of food he just urped up after eating too fast. This may be why you never actually FIND cat vomit, just the ring of dried hair and crusted food, when you get home from work.
So next time, try not to be so disgusted by this natural habit… and just be grateful you’re not a canine. Bottom’s up!