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Why Do My Dogs Eat Poop? How to Stop Dog from Eating Poop?

Updated by Sheryl on Oct 14, 2021

You have seen your dog eating poop; it's disturbing. But you are more worried than disgusted. Poop eating in dogs has the scientific term 'canine conspecific coprophagy'. It's a canine nature. Every one out of six dogs eat poop, and some vets call it normal in some canine stages of life.

However, if your adult dog who never had this habit of eating poop suddenly becomes a poop eater. There may be something else behind this behavior. But, for the most part, it's just an unappealing habit.

dog find items in the outdoor
  • Is it normal for dogs to eat poop
  • Risks of dog eating poop
  • Why do dogs eat poop
  • How to stop dogs from eating poop
  • FAQs

It is normal and common for a nursing female dog to eat the poop of her babies. Female dogs perform this behavior to keep their puppies clean.

Puppies, on the other hand, are always curious about everything, including poop. They also take part in the act of eating the poop of their own as well as other dogs, which is also considered normal by vets. Puppies outgrow this behavior before reaching adulthood. If your puppy is around 9 months or older and you still catch him eating poop, it's not a normal behavior anymore.

Eating poop of other animals is considered normal for some dogs. But you should stop this behavior because it's unhygienic and has potential health risks.

If an adult dog who has never been a poop eater suddenly shows interest in poop, there is something wrong with your dog.

hungry dog

Although it's not a worthwhile trait, it's harmless for a dog to eat his own poop. But, eating the poop of other animals or other dogs can cause health problems if the poop contains harmful bacteria or parasites. It's possible that your dog has ingested harmful intestinal parasites and their eggs which can easily cause a deadly disease.

dogs eating on the grass

Dogs eat poop for a number of reasons. Some poop eating behaviors in dogs are normal, while some indicate anxiety, stress, or an underlying medical issue. It may because of:

  • A dog instinct: Mother dogs instinctively eat the poop of their babies to keep them clean. It's normal for female nursing dogs. Puppies also eat poop at a young age. But they outgrow this behavior after 9 months or so.
  • Anxiety and stress: Anxiety and stress in dogs can make them eat their own poop. It can be general anxiety, separation anxiety, anxiety from worrying about being confined, etc. A dog, when punished for soiling inside the house, may try to eat his stool out of anxiety.
  • Poop fetish: Some dogs have this poop fetish. They will eat and ingest anything that tastes good to them, especially cat poop; dogs are obsessed with it. It's believed that cat poop contains protein, and a dog will often eat that even if he's well-nourished.  If he craves to eat his own poop, there may be some medical issues.
  • Hunger: Stray dogs, dogs born in mills are more likely to eat poop. Dogs have evolved as scavengers, so they have this natural notion to eat anything to avoid going hungry.
  • Attracting your attention: Poop eating is also a type of attention-seeking behavior similar to whining, barking, jumping, or stealing things to make you chase him.
  • A disease: Sudden urge of coprophagy in dogs often indicates an illness. Pica, a common disease in dogs, makes them eat non-food substances. Eating poop is one of the most common symptoms of Pica. Intestinal infections, liver infections, diabetes, dementia, or brain disease can make your dog eating his poop. Talk to a vet if you notice sudden coprophagia in an adult dog.
take puppy see the vet

First, check with your veterinarian and make sure there's no underlying medical condition behind your dog's fascination with poop. If you vets say that's it's a bad habit or a behavioral issue, here are some ways on how to stop your dog from eating poop:

  • Pick feces immediately after elimination. Keeping your yard clean will make sure your dog doesn't have any poop to eat. And don't leave your dog alone in the yard with time to search for nasty things. Lure him with treats and toys to make him come to you as soon as he's done pooping.
  • If you have a cat, keep the litter box clean. Put its feces in a place where your dog can't reach.
  • Walk your dog on a leash. If he gets to a poop, retract him and give him treats instead of shifting his attention towards you. Teach him to follow commands like 'live it' or 'come' use. This may take some time, but it can break his revolting habit of eating fecal matter.
  • Talk to your vet about switching to a new dog food formula to ensure your dog gets all the nutrients. Add digestive enzyme supplements to dog food, or feed canned pumpkin, which can make poop smell terrible to dogs.
Harsh punishment for pooping inside the house often causes anxiety in dogs. If he's punished more, his poop-eating habit may turn into a vicious cycle. So, be patient with him, distract him from eating poop with treats.
What to put in dog food to stop eating poop?
Feed a few tablespoons of canned pumpkin to your dog, or mix it with dog food every day. Pumpkin tastes good to dogs, but it makes their poop smell terrible. Another option is to give meat-tenderizers. It contains papain enzyme, which also makes the poop less appetizing for dogs. There are also dog poop deterrents available in the market.
How to clean my dog's mouth after eating poop?
Dog's saliva has the ability to clean and remove germs. Wipe the poop with a clean, soft cloth and then brush his teeth.
Sheryl is an editor from iPetor, owns extensive pet care experience. As a professional writer, she can provide useful pet care tips for all "parents".
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