So, your dog eats poop…
Gross…but actually a fairly normal dog behavior…
It’s also known as “Coprophagia”. That refers to dogs eating either their own feces, or snacking away on another dog’s or other animal’s droppings.
Think rabbits, cats, horses, etc.
Why Is My Dog Eating Poop?
This behavior is rooted in the early mother-puppy bond.
That’s when a nursing bitch licks her puppies’ behinds to entice them to eliminate. She mostly does this within the first 3 weeks.
Besides triggering elimination, she also ensures that no trace or smell will reveal her fragile litter’s presence to the outside world.
Yes, obviously there’s no actual threat to her litter in our homes, but this is instinctual behavior.
Puppies sometimes copy her behavior and start eating their very own poop. Don’t worry though, this should only be a temporary “thing”.
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Some dogs may “supplement” their menu if they aren’t fed a healthy, nutritious diet.
Another reason may be that they’re not fed enough and are actually hungry.
If a dog eats a poor diet and is not able to digest the majority of his food, he will likely be attracted to partial remainders left in said poop.
He may also be attracted to the feces left behind by herbivores as they contain nutrients.
For example, cows, horses, deer, etc.
Some dogs may also develop this habit due to boredom and being under-exercised.
Remember, bored and mentally unchallenged dogs will find ways to keep themselves busy…and these ways may very well include eating poop!
If your dog fits into this category, make some time for playtime with them.
Engage their braincells by teaching new tricks, and don’t forget to go for daily walks!
If your pup is confined to your backyard only, he may want to clean his personal space. That’s fair enough, too – you wouldn’t want to hang out in your feces either, right?
Also, a dog who never gets to leave their backyard views it as nothing more than a very large crate.
A dog needs to explore different places and migrate. This need is engraved in his genes and that’s why the daily walk is so important!
Dogs who eat poop on their walks may keep up with the behavior because of how we as their humans react to it!
So rather than acting all kinds of concerned and hysteric, just give a leash correction and move on without making a big deal about it.
How to stop your dog from eating poop
If your dog has coprophagia, take them to the vet for a health checkup in order to rule out any medical issues first.
If they get a clean bill of health and continue eating poop, try the following:
1) Pumpkin purée
Try adding pumpkin puree to their diet, regardless whether it’s kibble, wet dog food, home cooked or raw. It can help stop this nasty habit, but only works with some dogs.
Check out my post on how to make your dog’s own pumpkin puree below:
2) Covered cat litter box
If you caught your dog eating your cat’s poop out of the litter box, invest in a closed cat litter box he won’t be able to access.
An alternative is to simply place it out of your pup’s reach.
3) Spicy meal toppers
You can also try topping Fido’s leftovers with anything spicy such as really hot sauce or pepper…
4) Poop duty
… but quite frankly it would be much easier to monitor your dog’s potty routine and to just pick up the poop right away instead of having to go through all this trouble!
Positive side effect: You won’t step into piles of poop in your backyard.
Can Dogs Get Sick From Eating Poop?
It depends on the type of poop your dog eats.
If your pup is healthy and eats their own poop or that of another healthy animal, they’re unlikely to get sick.
However, if your pup eats a pile of poop from an unhealthy animal, specifically if it’s infested with intestinal worms, they’ll likely get sick.
You can try treating your pup on your own by giving them Slippery Elm bark syrup for a couple days. That’s my go-to home remedy when my pup ate something questionable on a walk or vomits/has diarrhea.
If your pup’s not better after a few days, you should schedule an appointment with your vet.
If you suspect your pup has worms, you can also help speed the recovery process by feeding pumpkin seeds.
My Dog Eats Poop: Bottom Line
As with so many other things, prevention is key.
Invest in a healthy, nutritious diet, pick up immediately after your dog has pooped, and pay attention when he’s on leash next to you.
I recommend feeding species-appropriate, raw dog food.
One of its many benefits is reduced stool volume.
That’s because dogs who eat raw dog food are able to absorb a lot more of the food they eat than when they eat kibble and/or wet dog food.
The latter contain a lot of empty fillers like grains and carbs that aren’t meant to be absorbed by a dog’s digestive system.
That’s why dogs who eat a highly processed diet have much larger poops than dogs who eat less processed food like raw or dehydrated/freeze-dried dog food.
Dehydrated or freeze-dried dog food is a good alternative to offering fresher dog food if you’re not ready to make the switch to a raw dog food diet quite yet.
I made the switch from kibble to raw via a little detour of dehydrated & freeze-dried dog food back in 2015.
But whatever the reason may be for your dog eating his own or another animal’s feces: Don’t punish your pup for it, and NEVER hit the pup or rub their face into it.
This method is extremely counter-effective, as it only teaches him that you can’t be trusted.
Have you had to deal with a case of coprophagia in your dog? How did you handle it? As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section!
- How to keep your dog from pooping inside the house – updated for 2022
- Why is my dog constipated on raw dog food?