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5 Reasons Why Dogs Eat Poop

why do dogs eat poop

Like humans, dogs each have their own motives for their individual behavior. Dogs eat poop for various reasons, based on their age, their training, their living conditions and their diet. There are basically 5 different classifications, or reasons that your dog may be eating poop.

PRO TIP: Here’s the most effective way to stop poop eating right away. This super simple method works better than anything else.

Your Dog Was Born to Eat Poop!

Before dogs were domesticated they were scavengers, living off of whatever they could find. Dogs commonly fed on the waste of other animals (and other dogs) thousands of years ago. Poop eating may just be a remnant of dog history.

In certain situations, as with a newborn litter of puppies, eating poop is instinctual and completely normal. A mother with pups is wired to keep her den clean so as not to attract predators with scent cues. Thus, she quite often will clean up after her young by consuming their poop.

For households with multiple dogs there is often a pecking order of dominant and submissive roles. Submissive dogs will sometimes eat the stool of their dominant counterparts.

Dogs Are “A” Students

Dogs pick up things quickly and will often learn things that you don’t want them to. For instance, consider a dog that is punished for a housebreaking accident. If he is punished by having his nose rubbed in poop (which is absolutely not a good way to deal with the problem) he may try to “dispose of the evidence” the next time around.

If you clean up after your dog while he looks on, he may misunderstand your intent and try to copy your actions in some fashion by “picking up after himself”. Your dog might also see other dogs eating poop and learn the behavior from them.

For puppies, eating feces may simply be a learning experience. Puppies learn things by putting nearly everything that comes in front of them in their mouth. Most puppies will develop a distaste for poop in fairly short order. So, if your dog is a puppy, you can relax… chances are that they will change their behavior in due time. Just make sure you keep an eye on things and try to remove waste whenever possible so that your dog doesn’t develop bad habits.

Why You Should Take Your Poop Eating Dog to the Vet

If your dog eats poop, you should make sure it’s not because of a health issue. Some dogs will start eating poop when they aren’t absorbing enough nutrients, they have parasites, or they have issues with their pancreas. All coprophagic dogs should be examined by a veterinarian. Please read my other post on coprophagia and dog health.

Another, rather interesting phenomenon is when multiple dogs are in the same household and one gets sick, the healthy dog will sometimes eat the feces of the unhealthy dog. This may be an instinctual reaction to hide the weaker dog from “predators” much as a mother does with pups (see the section on instinct below).

Why Your Dog Sometimes Prefers Poop to Dog Food

A dog’s digestive system is dependent on a specific mix of enzymes to break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats. There is some evidence that suggests that dog digestive systems haven’t quite caught up to modern diets that include less animal protein and far more carbohydrates and plant proteins. Some veterinary nutritionists have suggested that dogs eat stool to replenish enzymes so that they are better prepared to digest their food.

There is also evidence that dogs that aren’t getting enough of certain nutrients will resort to eating poop. A lack of vitamin B is often said to be a cause of coprophagia.

Another common theory is that overfeeding a dog can lead to coprophagia. A dog that is overfed can’t absorb all of the nutrients in his food, and thus may try to “recycle” his nutrient rich waste.

Neglectful Parents

In many cases, a dog’s behavior can be linked directly to the owner’s behavior. Many dogs will eat stool simply for the attention that they get from their owner. Negative attention is still attention, and owners who scold their dogs for the behavior will quite often only reinforce it.

Dogs that are bored and lonely may play with and eat stool as a pastime. And, some dogs may resort to eating stool because they are not getting enough real food. If a dog’s living area is not kept clean, some dogs will resort to their own “housekeeping” efforts by eating stool.

Solving The Problem

Here’s a short video that explains the best way to solve the problem:
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{ 250 comments… add one }
  • Phyl March 31, 2018, 8:50 am

    Eve It’s very rare when people write such things about themselves.

  • Laury March 29, 2018, 9:08 am

    My lovely dog hope is so amazing and such a great puppy shes About A year old and has good food. For about a month now ive seen her eat her own poop its really gross to see since she licks my face alot and i want it to stop. I do clean the poop infront of her and i think she just wants to help or get attention but she always get attention from me and my sister so i dont really no…if you have any tips pls tell me to help my puppy hope 🙂

  • Kyle March 5, 2018, 1:50 pm

    Eve,

    Your that single aunt that has to deal with a dog once a year when you go to your relatives house for the holidays? Your small apartment or trailer can’t accommodate more then your obese self and loads of cats. Why navigate to a dog page, and talk shit about dogs? You really really must have a horrible life. Best of luck.

  • filmcom March 4, 2018, 3:42 pm

    Eve has a mental problem feel sorry for her

  • Melissa March 4, 2018, 12:13 pm

    My 10 month old shepherd has been house trained since several weeks after we got him and the only area he ever had accidents in was our finished basement. He just started to pee and poop down here but he is eating the poop the last 2 times! We give him plenty of food and he can never get enough attention but he is p ur only child and is not fixed yet. He had severe panosteitis from 5month until now (its getting less frequent for flare ups) so he hasn’t been around many other people or dogs but I’m home all day with him and we go for walks and play outside and we buy refrigerated food plus expensive dry food. The house is immaculate, the only thing I can think of is that now it’s warmed up a bit again that the cat hair from the previous homeowner is coming through the air somehow. I will be calling my vet tomorrow… just curious!

  • Nola70119 March 4, 2018, 7:10 am

    Eve is just trying to rile people up, so don’t take the bait. As for cats crawling on countertops, I couldn’t agree more in that is the most vile thing. I don’t eat from any homes that have cats. Litter boxes are the most foul things I’ve ever witnessed. I’d rather pick dog crap up from the floor than empty a box of clay-encrusted s**t!

  • Vivek March 2, 2018, 6:09 pm

    Quite an intuitive article. I found it very informative. Covers a wide range of reasons.

  • MBethy February 28, 2018, 11:18 pm

    To Eve, you disgusting ,ignorant POS, I hope someone shoves some dog feces down your throat until you choke. You clearly do not like dogs, can you read? This is about DOGS! You are one of those grossly obese and dirty cat ladies whose nasty cats crawl all over the counter tops of your trailer and poop in your bed so you can roll around in it.
    You need to be Baker Acted for your unhealthy,dirty lifestyle and then put down with all your cats.

  • ComeGetIt February 16, 2018, 9:43 am

    How did a website page about Dogs eating poop, become so hostile?! Is this Really how negative the human race has become? Everyone gets butt-hurt over the dumbest things. Just read the article and be thankful, that there’s actually a helpful article about poop eating. Don’t get so upset by other “opinions”. You’re better than that.

  • AEG February 14, 2018, 8:32 am

    I feel very sorry for Eve. She must have a very difficult and sad life void of any form of compassion and love. I’m glad that dogs provide “unconditional” love and acceptance. Eve should be happy that dogs do not want cruel people euthanized for NOT being empathetic and caring.

  • Jessie Rayne February 9, 2018, 1:43 pm

    Eve…you must be one miserable SOB…you hate dogs, why would you leave a comment?…..attention I suppose. I hope you don’t have any children….you don’t appear to know anything about love or respect.

  • Gig February 8, 2018, 8:00 am

    *DOG…not dawg. Stupid talk to text. Have a great day dog lovers

  • Gig February 8, 2018, 7:59 am

    One of the most common reasons is a lack of vitamin B.
    Dawgs by Nature do this. But if you have a dog … an older dog that has never done it and then begins to do it then you want to rule out health issues.
    Adding a quality wet food to your dry dog diet is also a good choice. Quality is key.

  • Chucky February 4, 2018, 12:46 am

    Dogs are man’s bestest friend wether you like it or not. Be nice to each other . Don’t say not nice things. We should all get together and sing the bingo song for a good cause. What do you say ?

  • Alison January 31, 2018, 12:37 pm

    Wow
    Well I’m not going to get any advice on here am I?
    Think I’ll ask at my little grandchild’s school. Might get a more sensible answer there.
    Just childish.

  • Deb January 31, 2018, 10:00 am

    Everyone on this forum….if you’re rattled about Eve’s comments or anyone elses’, it would be far more productive and respectful to self, much less another human being, if we don’t attack the person, but get that each of us has a right to our thoughts and feelings, regardless of how unsavory they might be, better results can come from it on so many levels. She may be discussing unpopular things in this crowd, but she is still a human being. You love dogs…but beat the living daylights out of another human!?!? Try to respect others rights to their thoughts and feelings without discounting them as people! Your ugliness is extremely unattractive…you were created better than that.

  • Brenda January 23, 2018, 10:36 am

    Everyone else,
    Thank you for the input about why dogs eat feces and how to make them stop.

  • Brenda January 23, 2018, 10:32 am

    Eve,
    That you use so much profanity, and can recognize when dogs are asking for human food, suggests to me that, compared to you, dogs are superior communicators. It is also clear that you are unlikable. Perhaps you are jealous because most people like dogs and few people like you. You need a therapist.

  • @thepersonbelowme January 21, 2018, 2:01 am

    Please just shut up idiot. If you really think an animal that eats poop is a clean animal your sorely mistaken. And I’m pretty sure you hate animals too; except for dogs of course.

  • Rachell January 16, 2018, 8:55 am

    Poor Eve, your name alone says it all.
    I’d say it’s you that should be “put down”, your ignorance is outstandimg. Nuff said

  • Polly Punctuation January 14, 2018, 3:57 pm

    To the comment “Wow”. Before you call anyone stupid, consider how many stupid errors you made. “Your so miserable” should be you’re. Both Hell and God should be capitalized. Oh I forgot. Have you heard of a run-on sentence?

  • Wow January 7, 2018, 9:57 pm

    I have never seen so many stupid people in my life all you people who hate animals that much hate your own lives and your so miserable your mother and father should have actually used protection and never made the mistake and had you hopefully god will have a place in hell for people like you

  • Jon January 7, 2018, 5:16 pm

    Eve all I have to say to your comment is that somebody should put you down but then again ignorant is what ignorant does

  • DobermanMom2014 January 7, 2018, 3:31 pm

    My male Doberman is 4 yrs old and just recently started eating poop. I’m not really sure why? He eats his food regular, has a yard to play in, and gets plenty of attention. The only thing I can figure out is that he was the only”child” for 3 1/2 yrs until 5 months ago I got a new Dobie puppy and had him for 5 months. We lived in Florida at that time and things did not work out with the pup so I had to send him back. I then started to go through a divorce after 5 yrs so me and Cyrus (my Dobie ) had to move home to Kentucky with my dad, My dad has 2 dogs of his own, a female Boxer, and a female Dobie which happens to be Cyrus’ half sister….. Cyrus is cut but the girls have not been fixed….. Anyway, we have been here for about 2 months and for about a week now, every time I let him out he goes straight and starts eating poop!!! I’m SOOO aggrivated and can not figure it out!!! Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated!! … And to the individual that made the comment that dogs are stupid, annoying, gross, etc… I really think that you should take a LONG HARD LOOK IN THE MIRROR and you will probolly find that YOU are the disgusting one….. right down to the DUMB LOOK you had on your face when you wrote that REPULSIVE comment in which you were OBVIOUSLY BEGGING FOR ATTENTION YOURSELF…… Now back to the matter at hand, any advice of suggestions that anyone could offer would be great, as he has never displayed this behavior before….. THANKS IN ADVANCE!!!!!

  • Yi January 6, 2018, 6:29 pm

    To stop a dog eating poo, remove it first, determine if it is all poop, their poop, a submissive/dominant/clean up activity. Motivation and analyise consistency – still warm, firm etc. Determine the pattern. Does the dog eat poop after laxitives? (Single dose, not a long term solution, it loose poop and tummy ache may break pattern). Once homework done, leave it and sprinkle something unpalletable but not poisonous, a TINY amount of cyene pepper has a strong smell, or some bitter herbs on every poop. Remove poop at the same time daily. If this is not a deterant, and it is not stress, over crowding, boredom (try treat filled toys), over/under feeding, or a passing phase, a specimin of fresh poop & urine (if you can get it) with a trip to vet, or finally a behavioural vet might be warranted.

    Dogs bond closely with their owner and react to their moods, self examination and adjust accordingly if possible, will impact the dog’s behaviour if that is the cause. The dog wants you happy and if picking up is seen a chore, the dog may alleviate you of this.

    Talking to poop happily when picking up from the desired place, and grumpily when moving it to a desired place, (and later picking it up happily,) will not only train a dog to poop in an area (and not randomly over the place.) By using and repeating simple ‘dog words’ = good poop/not here poop/good place poop – consistantly having the dog see and hear this behaviour has great rewards. Avoid using the words “bad,” “naughty,” “here” and other words that will have other meanings for the dog.

    Hope this helps

  • Robin January 5, 2018, 11:13 am

    YUMMY!!!!!

  • LaDonica Nelson January 5, 2018, 5:14 am

    I found Janet Burkes post to be hilarious. If you are going to call people “stupid fucking morans” you should at least spell morons correctly. I think her use of profanity shows who the moron is in this situation

  • Dill weaver January 2, 2018, 6:11 pm

    Who gives a shit! When your dog gets tired of eating shit! Itll stop! Just like when you get tired of the same ol shit! Youll soon quit that shit!! Lol

  • Rose January 1, 2018, 1:04 am

    My boxer brindle just turned 12 in Nov over the summer the doctor told us he had cancer n things will. Start shutting down he back legs now are shutting down when he walks around our place now i just caught him eating his feces he never did this why now

  • ALM December 31, 2017, 7:41 pm

    Eve, you stupid, evil, fucking CUNT! You need to be put down so the rest of the world is out of misery from your presence.

  • DENISE GIANGRANTE December 28, 2017, 12:20 pm

    Eve you sound like an evil lonely person,and a animal abuser,hope you never get an animal,

  • Alaine deBreaux December 27, 2017, 11:43 am

    For Janet Burke and all her cuss words……Some people may not be aware that parasites are a big issue in puppies who eat their feces…….parasites are hard to get rid of if the pup keeps eating the stool, and a vet is very much necessary to examine the parasites and administer antibiotics…..so don’t be so flippant about stupidity…..it can mean the difference between a healthy dog and a dead one. I have a 4-month-old who came from a very reputable kennel who, so obviously, did not get enough food and came to me underweight and with two serious parasites. Its been a huge expense with the vet over the parasites and a big battle over getting her to stop eating the feces. Its no fun and its certainly not stupidity. This forum seems to be replete with people who prefer cussing to common sense.

  • Laura A Keib December 25, 2017, 7:44 pm

    To Carrie
    Definitely call your Vet, it could be another worm problem. Do you have someone cleaning up his poop regularly? If not, you need to. The dog eating his own poop also leads to worms. He could be eating the poop of other animals, like squirrels, rabbits, or a stray cat. By doing that, your dog could be contracting the worms that way, and eating his poop, just keeps the worm cycle going. Best thing: Keep the yard as clean as you can. And there is a product you can buy, that you can sprinkle on other animals’ poop, that will make it undesirable to your dog. Also watch your dog when he goes out, and use the command “leave it”, when you see him eating something (anything) on the ground. It will keep the yard cleaner, and your dog may learn to stop eating, not just poop, but other garbage they shouldn’t be.

    Good luck! But definitely call your Vet right away, and get those worms under control!
    Dec 25, 2017

  • willow December 23, 2017, 2:31 pm

    Eve, why are you on this website? You’re either full of bull shit or you’re a despicable, evil human being. If what you’re saying is what you truly believe then you’re inhumane, devoid of empathy and compassion and soulless. Plus a very unhappy, sad person. Please do animals and the rest of us a favor and get permanently lost.

  • Jonny Hardy December 22, 2017, 4:32 pm

    My patterjack is 3 months old and every now and again when she has an accident in the house in front of you she resorts to eating it, but she goes out everyday with her mother eats good food in good order is mollycoddled everyday and sleeps with me but eats her own poo I think she eats it when your there so you don’t tell her off. I’ve always been told to show them what they’ve done wrong in a nice mannered voice and clean it up in front of them

  • Janet Burke December 20, 2017, 6:04 am

    FOR all u stupid fucking morans who HAVE written badly about this topic I have raised4 dogs in my life and they ALL did that and 1 passed at 13 then the 2nd passed at 13 the 3rd died at 18 and 2 yeas ago my last one passed at 14 so they all long healthy lives and now I have a miniature Pomeranian who is 5 months old and as a puppy she eats her feces it will stop in time so the idiots who wrote those stupid comments don’t have a fucking clue about animals or they would have known better geeze get your facts

  • Doglover476 December 19, 2017, 3:19 pm

    Don’t say that dogs are stupid, dumb, or any other insults I have a dog. If u r a cat person y r u even on this site. U r the fuckin idiot.

  • Dog Lover December 19, 2017, 1:05 pm

    To the one that thinks all dogs should be put down… You’re the one that is disqusting & should be euthanized, you piece of shit! You’re a perfect example of an asshole with zero brains.

  • Sophie king December 16, 2017, 4:26 pm

    My puppy angel I have noticed she has been eating her poop I’ve not had this with my other 2 , she is very loved and eating good food, maybe it’s because I’ve been in hospital and I’ve been in a lot of pain and she’s reacting to that, she was all so taken and weened very early as the mum was unable to feed as of a nipple problem as I was told!! I’m hoping she’s not unwell as I love my dogs as much as my child that’s now 24 and it’s just myself and my baby’s please can someone give me some advice.

  • Eve December 10, 2017, 7:44 am

    My conclusion….. Dogs are just fucking stupid AND disgusting. Almost all their behaviour is annoying, gross, dumb and pointless. Everything about dogs, right down to the stupid fucking look they give you when they beg for human food pisses me right the fuck off. Just put the shit-eating retards down FFS. Problem solved.

  • Miner64 December 9, 2017, 1:18 am

    How can a chiweenie puppy be papered ? They are a mixed breed and there fore can not be registered as a pure breed dog. So I think your barking up the wrong tree with this one carrie

  • Julie November 30, 2017, 10:08 pm

    My dog eats his poop now and then, he does it when he’s locked in his area and I’m not around. I’m wondering if it’s normal? he’s 5 months, and I am a good owner I love dogs. I give him two types of food he loves it but he rather eat poop sometimes instead of his food Wich I find weird. I dont know if he is just bored and curious ? because I don’t starve him that’s fersure.

  • Dick November 30, 2017, 8:21 pm

    How the fuck can a Cheweeniepoo be well papered? Unless you are referring to the amount of paper used to house train your mutt?

  • DQ November 25, 2017, 6:09 am

    I have 2 dogs that are siblings. I feed them both the same dog food. The male eats his food normally. The female eats half of her food and then eats poop…..I’ve seen her doing that couple of times and I’m so confused…

  • RoseMary November 22, 2017, 7:36 am

    My dog will drag you all over the yard to find cat poop, and that is not an exaggeration . I live rural and there are a few semi-feral cats and she will smell out an area to see if she can get a good nugget of poop .. I’m at wits end with this .

  • Johnny 5 November 8, 2017, 8:23 pm

    What on earth is wrong with some people? Didn’t you read the article?
    Makes me think some of you aren’t fit to care for a dog.
    FYI. If your neighbours dog is chained up all the time, and eats poo to survive. What the hell are you doing posting comments here. You should have call the RSPCA long ago. You’re just as bad as the dogs owner. Shame on you.

  • seepe mj October 28, 2017, 10:09 am

    My dog is eating human poo . what must i do.

    Seepe MJ

    RSA[

  • Carrie October 22, 2017, 8:50 am

    My 5 month old Chiweenie puppy, Jax, is well papered and even had health insurance. He’s feed fresh pets puppy refrigerated food from the grocery and IAMS Proactive Smart Puppy dry food. He’s an only dog and he’s got a huge fenced in back yard we play in especially fetch several times a day. He’s my service dog and I’ve been scratching my head as to why he’s doing this. If he poops outside or has an accident inside I catch him playing with it and ingesting his poop. He’s going to be completely vaccinated in 2 1/2 weeks and he’s been wormed 3 times. I’ve just not sure what to do. Do I call the vet and let her know? What advice can you give me? I’m going to start cleaning up his poop in the yard and from accidents when he’s not looking. But he’s still eating it when he doesn’t see me clean it up. Please help.

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