Why A Dog Eats Poop | Tricks To Help

Disgusting, horrific, and embarrassing are just a few ways to describe how it feels when you realize your dog is eating poop!  When a dog eats poop, it is called Coprophagia.  I don’t think it is better or worse if they are eating their own poop or eating another dogs.  Just the act of seeing your dog eating poop can be traumatic.

dog poopingq
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Your first instinct is to yell and run towards them to quickly stop the behavior from happening.  You need to stop yourself from having this reaction.  Startling your puppy or dog can do more harm than good.  Causing this type of alarm to your pet can have the opposite effect you are looking for.  Not to mention that it could cause your dog to have other behavioral issues.

The first thing that comes to your mind the first time you catch your dog eating poop, is WHY?  Well let’s go through some reasons why a dog eats poop and some helpful tricks you can use to curb this behavior quickly.  We don’t want this to become a recurring habit.

Natural behavior

A puppy will often start eating poop right from in the litter days.  It is not uncommon for mother dogs to keep their den clean for her puppies.  Instinctually they have that need from being in the wild to try to protect her puppies from predators that may smell the feces’ and come near the den.

mothers den

The mother cleaning the den can be done by her eating her puppies feces’.  She usually does this until the puppies are weaned from her and eating solid food.

Just like any good puppy, they may see their mother doing this behavior and mimic her.  Puppies that may initially act on this watched behavior can many times outgrow it once they start defecating outside.  Other puppies may not, and they can continue this into their puppy years and even into adulthood.

Illnesses

A dog can do very strange things when they are sick or have an illness.  Eating poop can be one of those drastic side effects of illness and you may not even realize it.  Some illness that can cause this behavior are:

  1. Digestion troubles – Inflammatory bowl disease, lack of nutrition or nutrition absorption, Celiac disease, food allergies.
  2. Pica – Ingestion of items that are not food related.  This is a compulsive behavior, that requires Vet attention.
  3. Dementia – Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.  A dog that shows odd signs like confusion, anxiety, listlessness and neurological issues.
  4. Parasites – A dog that is infected with a type of parasite.
  5. Thyroid issues – When a dogs thyroid is not functioning properly.
  6. Diabetes – A dog that has diabetes without anyone knowing they have it.

If your dog is experiencing any of these suspected illnesses, please don’t wait and take your dog to the Vet as soon as possible.  Catching any illness in your dog is much easier to treat, the sooner it is discovered.

Stress, fear and anxiety

I know it sounds strange to thing that a dog can suffer from things like anxiety, but simply put they can.  A dog that is exhibiting fearfulness, or in a high stress situation can eat feces’ as a way to alert you that something is wrong.

Oddly enough, this can be a self-soothing behavior for your dog.

scared dog

Going back to the beginning of my article when I said that catching your dog eating feces’ and startling them by yelling can make the situation worse.  Well one other thing that can cause this to happen is because they now associate them defecating in the wrong spot and the need to eat the evidence away.

Hard to believe, but rationally the dog thinks that they can avoid punishment for the behavior if there is no evidence to find.

Boredom

I have talked before about what can happen when your dog is bored and looks for things to do on their own without direction.  Most of the time the things they find to do, are not things that we want them doing.

When a dog is bored, things like a dog digging holes in your backyard is just one example of how a bored dog can react negatively.

Well you guessed it, a dog that is bored in the backyard can also lead to them eat their own feces’.  The thing is that although you may think it happened just one time, because that is the only time you seen them do it, you think it’s not an issue. Honestly though, it is more likely to have happened before.

Keeping this behavior from becoming a reoccurring problem is important.  Nobody wants a dog that comes inside with a mouth full or poop.  Let me tell you, it is nasty.  As the parent, we are tasked with cleaning up the mess, and that is a tough task to get through.

dog boredom

I had a dog when I was younger and her name was Quinn.  She was an Alaskan Malamute dog.  Quinn was very sweet and cuddly, but had the nasty behavior of eating her own poop in the backyard.  It started when she was young and stayed with her into adulthood.

Anyone that knows anything about Malamutes, they are what I consider a working dog breed.  I was very young when I got Quinn, and didn’t realize what getting that breed would mean.  It was just a complete lack of education on my part.

So unfortunately for Quinn her boredom was one of the main reasons that she would eat dog poop in the backyard. Making sure you are attentive and aware of what your dog is doing while alone outside.  Ever since than, I was always the dog owner that would pay complete attention to my dog when I would let them outside.

Are there risks to eating feces

If you are a dog owner that has a dog that eats their own feces’, than you will want to know, if there are risks for your dog from this behavior.

A dog that eats the poop of another dog or animal, can ingest eggs from intestinal parasites.  This is full of bacteria that can actually make your dog sick.

why a dog eats poop

Although the risk of your dog getting sick is small, the greater risk is to yourself.  Humans are at risk of having these parasites and bacteria transmitted to us through our dog’s saliva and mouth.  Other dogs, can also become infected if they come into contact with your dog’s mouth.

If your dog is a feces’ eater, making sure to wash your hands often and regularly after coming into contact with your dog’s saliva or mouth is crucial.  This can help contain any bacteria from spreading.

Even though having bad breath isn’t really a health risk to your dog, it can sure be a terrible situation for you when to deal with when you try to get close to cuddle with your dog. Using a dog dental kit for cleaning can help with this situation.

Helpful tricks

The most important part of this article is to first be sure that your dog is not suffering from any illness or sickness that is causing them to eat feces’.

Why a dog eats poop can, as I said be linked to health reasons, boredom and mental behavior issues.

Once you have ruled out an illness as the cause, dealing with the behavior is the next step.  Now this can be a challenging behavior to cope with and be successful, but it is possible.

The easiest thing you can do right off the bat, is to keep your backyard clean of any feces’.  Yes that means picking it up every time your dog goes out to do their business.  If there is nothing out there for your dog to eat, than controlling that behavior becomes possible.

Putting your dog on a leash when you take them outside, can ensure that you quickly remove any mess as soon as it happens.  Many dogs will go to eat the feces’ almost right after it happens.  Picking it up right away, while also turning your dogs attention to you is important.  The distraction can than be topped off with a treat for the good behavior.  Using the proper commands along the way with your dog, will also help them learn how to behave when you tell them what to do.

stopping my dog from eating poop

 

Another option of ways to deter your dog from eating their own feces’, is to add something to their food, that actually makes their poop taste bad.  Make sure to discuss this method with your Vet, to find what the best and safest product you could try would be.

Using a sensory deterrent on the remains outside, can also be sprayed on the feces’.  This can help change the acidity and aroma of the feces’ simply by spraying things like a 1/2 water and 1/2 vinegar mixed together.  You could also buy a Bitter Apple type product.

Depending on your individual situation with your dog, I hope some of my information has been helpful.  With every issue when it comes to dogs, the solution is always equal to the level of problem that you are dealing with.

Perseverance, patience and supervision are the 3 things, that I feel are keys to success. Best of luck!

17 thoughts on “Why A Dog Eats Poop | Tricks To Help”

  1. OMG what a great article! I’ve always wondered! Our dog used to eat rabbit poop. It made me feel sick but he seemed to enjoy it. He also likes to sniff other dogs’ urine. YUK! But now I understand more why dogs might do such a thing…. Thanks! Good pictures and good topic matching affiliate advertisements!

    Reply
    • Hi Angelique,

      Funny enough, the topic isn’t one that is an easy one to have with a dog owner.  There is certainly some embarrassing and guilt feelings that we take on if it is our dog that is doing the eating. LOL!

      I am so glad that you found the post to be relatable and I appreciate your feedback. Thank you.

      Coralie 

      Reply
  2. OMG what a great article! I’ve always wondered! Our dog used to eat rabbit poop. It made me feel sick but he seemed to enjoy it. He also likes to sniff other dogs’ urine. YUK! BUt now I understand more why dogs might do such a thing…. Thanks!

    Reply
  3. Thanks a lot for sharing with us such an amazing article about What are Articles in a Sentence?

    I noticed that my dog sometimes eats his shit and we don’t know why. I read many articles about it, but this is the best I have read. I will definitely help my dog get rid of this.

    Thanks again and keep in touch!

    Reply
    • Hello,

      Sorry to hear that your dog deals with this issue at times.  It is a tough think to get a handle on.  I am happy to hear that you found my post to be helpful to you.

      When I get comments on a post that tackles a tough dog issue, that is when I feel that sharing it really can help someone.  Dog owners are special people and having a community that can help with tips, stories and great information is so helpful.

      Thank you for being part of my dog community and I appreciate you sharing.

      Coralie 

      Reply
  4. Lol was the shit pic necessary? 😹😹.. But I love your post anyways, out neighbour’s dog always eating his poop, and when he does, it’s like he’s ashamed of it you knw? Like he does not have a choice. I feel though that they are not taking care of him properly anyways. And this Pica illness too, I think that’s what disturbs the dog, because sometimes he kinda like pukes, the process of him doing that is disgusting; like gbu gbu, then gubahh (the vomit comes out) 

    Thanks for this post, they seriously need it 💙 

    Reply
    • Hello,

      Your neighbours dog certainly sounds like he is not being properly cared for.  Leaving a dog to continue with this behaviour without at least looking into it doesn’t seem like a responsible dog owner to me.

      Unfortunately this does happen a lot, and its always that the dog is the one that suffers.

      Thank you for sharing your story and providing feedback on my post.

      Coralie 

      Reply
  5. Recently I have noticed my labradoodle has started doing this and to be honest, I haven’t been sure what to do. I have kind of just allowed them to do that as I had a feeling it may just be what dogs do.

    However, reading this is given me the information I needed to know so now I know how to act and what could be the contributing factors behind it.

    I will get my dog checked out next week so I can rule out any possible illnesses. I am happy I came across this post when I did so thank you.

    Josh

    Reply
    • Hi Josh,

      I am so excited to hear that you have a Labradoodle, they are the best dogs.

      Thank you for sharing your story about your dog and this tough issue.  At times, we just allow our dogs to do things, without knowing why they are doing something.  This issue is certainly one that is hard to talk about and can be a challenge to get a handle on. 

      That really is the reason that I decided to write this post, was in hopes that I could provide some possible solutions or answers to help dog owners like yourself.

      Getting your dog checked out is a really great start first to see what the Vet has to say.  I wish you and your Doodle the best of luck. I really appreciate hearing your comments, so thank you.

      Coralie 

      Reply
  6. I must tell you that I have been experiencing this particular habit from my dogs for sometime now and I have been wondering how to crib this situation…….. I think this tricks you have given would work well. Thanks for this awesome article it would be of great help to the public as it has been of help to me.

    Reply
    • Hi,

      I am so sorry to hear that your dog is experiencing this difficult situation. Hearing that you found the information helpful makes me so happy. 

      Listening to other dog owners and there stories really makes me happy. Every dog is so different, and each experience is unique. 

      Thank your for sharing your story with me.

      Coralie 

      Reply
  7. Tobby used to do that, and also he used to sniff around the yard looking for some herbs to eat them. After getting to the Veterinarian, he explained as you mention here. They are instinctively looking for getting purge themself in some cases or avoid loosing needed vitamins and nutrients they somehow know their bodies were not in the condition to absorb properly.

    I didn’t know about your first recommendation “Coprofagia” but the vet recommendation was the Bitter Apple. I used it from time to time (some times it passes a month without using it and Tobby hasn’t come back to that awful practice! I felt desperate then, thanks for sharing your experience on this issue on your site!

    Great post!

    Reply
    • Hello,

      I am glad that your dog Tobby has stopped with this behaviour.  We always feel so responsible when our dog does something that is less than cool! This certainly falls under that category. 

      Sounds like you did all the right things with success, so good for you, Tobby is very lucky to have you.

      Sharing your story with me gives me great joy and I love to hear other dog owners stories or experiences.

      Thank you

      Coralie 

      Reply
  8. Hello Coralie,

    It is truly a disgusting sight to see your dog eating poop whether it is his poop or that of another dog. But I have to admit, you make some compelling revelations. I had absolutely no idea that illness could contribute greatly to the bad behavior of eating poop. The good news though, is that the behavior can quite easily be controlled. I think these tips would be really helpful. Thanks for sharing

    Reply
    • Hi Rhain,

      You are so right, it is absolutely the most disgusting thing to see.  Especially the first time you see it.  I think I just stood there in shock really.

      Thank you for your kind words and support.  Getting to hear comments on my post is so important and the reason I continue looking for topics that are interesting to learn about.

      Coralie 

      Reply
  9. Watching your dog really is one thing that is disgusting , I watched my small puppy do it once and couldn’t understand why. Could it also be possible that the dog may be hungry as well because I keep some rabbits and they also do the same thing when hungry. I doubt I would be able to remove the item after every time the dogs go relieve himself because I have 3 of them and a very big yard. I guess I’ll have to go see the VET on what to give that they poop doesn’t taste so delicious to them.  Thanks a lot and I hope to be back soon with the results.

    Reply
    • Hi Donny,

      Yes a dog that eats feces, can be a sign of poor nutrition and yes even hunger.  If the dog is not getting all the proper things in it’s body to grow, then they will certainly find another way to help themselves.  Unfortunately that can lead to this problem.

      I had 2 dogs with a big yard for a long time, so yes I understand that daily pick up is almost impossible.  In this case, I still think that supervising your dog when they are outside is an easy solution, to at least monitor what they are doing out there.

      Best of luck to you and thank you for sharing.

      Coralie 

      Reply

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