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Why Do Dogs Roll in Dead Animals?

Much to their owners’ dismay, dogs are attracted to dead animals. Not only will a dog roll around in a spot where their owner has just killed a bug, but they will also actually roll in dead animals. Bugs, worms, rats, birds, or an unknown dead animal – dogs have an unexplained fascinating for all dead animals. Here’s why.

Why does my dog roll in dead animals?

Animal behavior specialists say dogs roll in dead animals for a couple of reasons. One is scent marking. When your dog rolls in dead animals - guts, goo and all - she is simply depositing her own scent on the carcass. This is your dog’s way of telling other animals, I’ve been here and I’ve claimed this dead animal. It’s her way of keeping scavengers away and also showing off the prey to other dogs.

The other reason dogs roll in dead animals is to hide their own scent. This behavior harks back to the days when dogs were wild animals who had to hunt for their food. Masking their own scent allowed them to approach dinner without being detected.

Why does my dog roll in stinky stuff in general?

Smell is a vital sense for dogs, much more so than humans. Dogs like to roll in stinky stuff, and this includes dead animals, because they want to hide their smell. In modern-day pet dogs, it is instinctual behavior. In ancient times, wild dogs used to roll in poop and other stinky stuff so they could sneak up on prey undetected.

Why do dogs roll on roadkill?

Besides scent marking and scent masking, another reason why dogs roll on roadkill, dead animals, and other stinky stuff is that they actually like the smell. Many smells that are gross to humans are actually interesting or appealing to dogs.

Can dogs get sick from rolling in dead animals?

Rolling in dead animals is not a behavior you should encourage or ignore. There are many potentially dangerous bacteria in animal carcasses that can make your dog very sick. For example, your dog can pick up bacteria called Clostridium botulinum from a dead animal that is neurotoxic. In general, it’s a good idea to educate yourself about some common neurotoxins in dogs, so you can keep your pooch safe at home and outdoors.

What to do if your dog rolls in a dead animal?

Sometimes, even the most highly trained and best-behaved dogs will dive-bomb an animal carcass before you have time to say “Leave it!” If your dog rolls in a dead animal, here’s what you should do:

  • Brush your dog’s coat thoroughly.
  • Bathe your dog with a degreasing shampoo to get rid of the stinky smell.
  • Leave the shampoo in for 5-10 minutes to allow it to work.
  • Rinse well and dry.
  • It may take a couple of washes to get the smell completely out. However, keep in mind that frequent washing can harm your dog’s coat. You can use baking soda in between baths to get rid of some of the disgusting smell. Sprinkle the baking soda on your dog’s fur and allow it to sit for 5 minutes, then brush it out.

How to stop my dog from rolling in dead animals?

Here are some quick tips on preventing your dog from rolling in dead animals:

  • Train your dog to respond to commands like “come back” or “leave it.”
  • Keep your dog on a short leash when outdoors until she is trained well in responding to these commands.
  • Fence in your yard to limit access to roadkill and other dead animals.
20 December, 2022