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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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{ 150 comments… add one }
  • Ginga July 9, 2016, 6:48 am

    Thanks for the advice of changing the dogs diet. My husband saw our dog lick some poop this morning. He was appalled. Now maybe I have a solution

  • Carrie June 23, 2016, 12:13 pm

    We have a 2 year old foster dog that eats her poop. I try to keep the yard clean but I can’t patrol it every time the dogs go outside. It doesn’t seem like she is eating our dogs poop, just her own and not always. She is on proin for incontinence and I wonder if this could be related to the medication. She is already on probiotics and enzymes.

  • Jasmin June 18, 2016, 12:01 pm

    My dog started that practice so I just clean the yard every time I let him out!!! Right now everyone is stuck in the house it is 120 out side. So I think he is just acting out!!!
    CLEAN YOUR YARD 2-4 X A DAY AND ADD SOME green beans with wet & dry mixed with water that’s what I did!
    Have a good one good luck!!

  • BetterFood June 4, 2016, 11:20 am

    Oh, and to CHIZa1357, tell your father Renal failure and gastrointestinal issues are really common in dogs that consume kitty litter/cat poop.

  • BetterFood June 4, 2016, 11:16 am

    To all the people on here, I implore you to inspect what you feed your dog. Brands like Nutro, Blue Buffalo, Castor and Pollux and Taste of the Wild are excellent foods with lots of B vitamins(nutrients that make poop taste awful). If you are feeding lesser brands (like cooking host-inspired food, Beneful, or grocery store brands) then there is a highly likely chance that the food has a LOT of corn in it. Corn has no nutritional value and comes out a dog almost the same as it went in. Chicken flavored is not chicken. It is flavoring like salt or bullion. What you feed your pets is really important. It is the difference between feeding McDonalds and making a home cooked meal. You will feed your dogs less and their poop will not be appetizing. There is also a pill sold at Petsmart that is specifically made to make the food taste bad. Best of luck Pet owners!

  • collonzo April 16, 2016, 11:06 pm

    I have a 6months old mongrel always eating its poop,why

  • CHIZa1357 March 27, 2016, 9:38 pm

    Hi, I’ve skimmed through the article and was just after an opinion from someone. I just Witnessed my Father take the kitty litter (which had faeces in it from my newly bought kitten) out to our 2 dogs to LET them eat it. I was disgusted and took it up with him, he is saying that its normal and they would eat our other cats poo normally. keeping in midn that these dogs are small dogs that guest pick up and let them lick and play with them when we have guests. after explaining whats wrong with him doing this he still thinks its ok and nothing is wrong.
    What are some arguments i can explain to him to change his view and what he is doing.

  • Anne Davis March 25, 2016, 7:32 pm

    I have a 7 yr old Beagle, named Daisy. We had to rehome our other dog bc my 1 yr. Old son was deathly allergic to her and almost died. But since Lily has been gone, Daisy has literally been going into the changing room, and getting the dirty diapers out of the diaper bin and eating the poop out of them. She never did this before, and she doesnt eat dog poop, just occasionally a poopy diaper. I dont know why, she is healthy, the vet cant find anything wrong with her, but it worries me and I dont know how to keep her from doing it?!!

  • Cindy March 24, 2016, 4:58 pm

    Snicker doodle….where do you get dog hating out of these comments? People wants help and the best for their pets. Your vulgarity is only a sign of your pea brain

  • Sharon March 23, 2016, 10:53 am

    My dog’s problem isn’t that she eats her and our other dogs(we have 3other dog’s) its that she eats the cats and she’s not alone. We hide the litter box put up gates. What can I do and why do they do it?

  • HearnoSeenoSpeakno March 20, 2016, 5:36 am

    Does retardation run in dogs as well — sure sounds like it. For whatever reason I can’t quite understand without imminent fear of a predatory species near (all else equal) ANY animal with tastes buds and olfactory senses can eat feces.

    …well there were those Two Girls and a Cup!

  • Rae March 16, 2016, 7:33 am

    SNICKERDOODLE: Why are people on here talking s*** about dogs? Go the f*** away if you hate dogs. Why are you even reading this article dumbass? This article is obviously not for you. It’s for dog owners who are concerned about their dog eating poop which is COMMON. I feel bad for your poor cold soul. If you don’t have love for animals you are the problem in this f***ed up world. Bye piece of s*** (snickerdoodle)

  • Tired ofdog shit March 14, 2016, 4:43 pm

    I wish my frigging neighbors dogs would eat their own s***!
    They don’t clean their yard.

  • Snikerdoodle March 8, 2016, 7:35 pm

    Honestly, dogs are disgusting. Any animal that happily eats its own s*** is gross. They smell all the time and eating theirs and others shit is truly appalling. Please people if you insist on these creatures wash your hands before touching anything else-especially if you have young children!

  • Ann Marshall March 3, 2016, 11:24 am

    Rich13, there is a product you can buy to sprinkle on their food, it doesn’t make their food taste bad, but it does make their poops nasty so they don’t want to eat them. Check it out with your vet.

  • Rich13 February 26, 2016, 7:38 pm

    We have a Chihuahua and cross jack Russell chihuahua. The chi’ is always eating the others poop. Only recently we have adopted to spray him before he gets there, also when possible let the jack Russell out first, clean up the mess then let the other out. It’s disgusting, and at times his breath is atrocious.
    We are at our wits ends.

  • Random February 21, 2016, 1:06 pm

    Some of these comments are ridiculously funny 😛

  • uallrdumases February 17, 2016, 11:56 am

    Me and my man are always with are new pup. We took him knowing we were making a hands on commitment to always be with our little one. We took time and had to study his breed and how to properly care for him. In the beginning, he wanted to smell everything. We never let him go near poop and he was 2 when we rescued him from an abusive previous owner. I would Never put him in harms Way by giving him poop to eat sick with parasites. folks should Not have pets if they don’t know how or don’t have time to properly care for them.

  • uallrdumases February 17, 2016, 11:40 am

    My friends dog is covered in fleas and goes to the pet shop every month to get a flea bath and still comes home covered in fleas. Her dog eats poop and even if a human popped on the grass this dog would eat it. It eats old white poop, big horse poop, rolls its body around in poop, it smiles when it’s chewing on poop and licks its mouth all happy and goes back to playing and if he sees poop, he has to stop and chew up all the poop he will have a big mouth full. It’s so gross. I think he has to have worms or under fed

  • uallrdumases February 17, 2016, 11:31 am

    Don’t let your dog Eat s***. If dog has to be alone, get the type of kennel that has a grate bottom so the dogs s*** falls through the grate on to the pad. And when you are with your pet as you should be, supervising him because even in you back yard it’s not safe for your pet to be alone because of a rodent with rabies, stray cats and Tacoma and please don’t let him near any poop! Flies lay eggs on poop and maggots are in poop from eating road kill. Your pet can have huge intestinal worms that are very smart to come only when you are asleep and lay eggs around the anus at night only and go back inside. The dogs butter itches and scrapes his but by scooting it across the carpet And then please scrub your hands with hot soapy water with a brush under your nails.

  • hey February 16, 2016, 11:50 pm

    yo

  • Sharon Jaymes February 16, 2016, 12:36 pm

    I caught my new pup of now 10wks old eating his poop, Wuts that about?

  • Expensive February 14, 2016, 5:31 am

    Why does my x-wife eat my dogs poop?

  • Dorkel February 11, 2016, 10:20 pm

    How do I stopped eating my dogs poop? Oh we were talking about dogs?

  • Jp faddz February 7, 2016, 1:03 pm

    And the puppy continually eats & brings it in from the yard and plays & eats it like it best thing sense dogg food & i wanna break him from that disgusting habit because he brings it up on the furniture and the other 2 olders never had that happen and need few scenarios to break the nasty puppy habit pls if any -1 has any suggestions feel free to write me email or txt me (614) 886-9171 names porkchoppp

  • Brandi January 27, 2016, 3:49 am

    I found in the past that giving your dog pineapple defers them from eating faeces. My Yorkie was eating her puppies poop so he didn’t get in trouble. But she stopped & 2 days ago my dachshund past away & this morning she was eating her poop I wonder if it’s from depression? But I gave her some pineapple we’ll see. It worked for my mom’s German Shepherd that loved eating his poop yuck…

  • Joani January 10, 2016, 3:04 pm

    We have a beagle who never seems to be full….ever…he will ask to go out after eating his food and trying to eat the terriers food…and commence to “cleaning up the yard”…he then chows down on all the poop in the back yard…we clean it regularly but with the snow don’t always see it…he will unbury it and well…you know…if we try to pull him away or stop him he shows his teeth and howls at us like we are taking away his last meal…I find it so disgusting I have avoided him at times…his breath is atrocious…I,m about at my wits end…all the reasons you give are not the reasons he does this….beagles are always hungry…they will literally eat themselves to death….they will eat just about anything…this is a breed of dog I will never get again…he is well cared for and my husband loves him to bits but I can’t find him very endearing when he does this….

  • Tammy January 6, 2016, 8:23 am

    I have a 7 month old teddy bear pomeranian. He has recently started “nibbling” on his poop. He is in a “pen” when we are not at home. It is a big area which includes a kennel that he can go in to sleep, his food and water bowls, a soft comfy bed that he lays in and his puppy pad for going to the bathroom. He pees and poops on the puppy pad but then he takes his poop off the pad and it almost looks like he “breaks it up” on the floor but mostly he puts it in his soft comfy bed WHERE HE LAYS?? I just dont understand. Anyone know a reason for this? If I see the poop on the pad first, I clean it up. But if i am at work or something, i come home to it all over the pen.

  • Mkke December 13, 2015, 3:12 pm

    My dog is half mini pinscher, half Chihuahua. I used to get angry at him when he was younger for using the bathroom inside the house. I believe this is the main reason he eats his poo. As it says in the article, they could be hiding the evidence. He is a really good dog and this only happens when I leave him alone for an extended period of time. I learned not to be angry at him anymore for a lot of situations, because most of them I could have prevented.

  • Darlene December 12, 2015, 9:52 pm

    I have 6 dogs, all of a smaller breed basically chihuahuas ranging from ages 1-14 although that’s counting in ages my mom’s two I’m babysitting as she’s going through cancer so that puts it to 8 dogs at the present. Yes a lot. Now they all have shots and they all are pretty well mannered dogs, I got my last addition my 6th Lil man about 5 months ago and he was displaying signs of coprophagia so I had broken him from it being that I rescued him from a bad environment I assumed that was the reasoning, since then he has been to the vets for several examinations though I never thought to bring it up. But now my middle dog has started hers I think might be because she is the princess of the family and now she has to share yet more of her time plus she’s seen Lil man do it. Now I feed all my dogs Kibble and bits small breed. I also buy pro plan to mix with it because they hate regular brown foid. I feed them wet cedars or Iams in a can lamb not rice just a few table spoons as a treat but they always have a cess to the kibble mixed with either pro plan or Iams and I always buy what fits them like the small breed or I’ll feed the oldest man for senior or healthy joints so I’m asking do you think this might have been aquire from my Lil youngest guy who’s right at about a year because he came from where most likely he had to eat do to make it a meal and my female saw it or does it sound like something else. I’m about 98% sure it’s not health related it’s been a month since my dogs have been to the vets though. But all else and everyone else seem fine any ideas??

  • Deb November 30, 2015, 5:34 am

    I’ve noticed several people posting keep asking for help on what to do when their dog eats poop. You really need to download the free guide this author has graciously offered! The answers are all there and it’s free!

  • June Montgomery November 24, 2015, 12:26 pm

    I have two Shih Tzu’s. One nine and a half, 2nd one is one year old. The older one ate poop at first but started again when the new puppy began eating poop. I now take them out on a leash in different areas but can still see each other. I have had several dogs at one time and even my German Shepherd lived to be 12 years old and others have had long lives so think I do a good job with my dogs. I have read your book and will begin trying your suggestions. First will take poop to Vet before. I begin. They have regular vet appointments and have always been healthy. The Vet is excellent and have been seeing him for eighteen years. He like most vets doesn’t have answer. I use recommended food at age appropiate. Just began feeding them the same food when younger one hit one year about 10 days ago. Eat separately and taken out right afterwards. Pick up poop and dispose it after dropping it. Doing fuss but they started going several times a day. This makes it hard. ????

  • Barack O'Bobo November 12, 2015, 5:31 pm

    Your mom has been eating my dogs poop.

  • Ryan November 8, 2015, 9:43 pm

    These comments are golden

  • Hamish mackie November 4, 2015, 2:15 pm

    I EAT MY DOGS POOOOOP

  • ernie November 4, 2015, 12:09 pm

    My dog eats her poop.
    Help me, it stinks.

  • Cassie October 20, 2015, 10:27 am

    I have a female shih tzu who will be a yes in December. She has developed this habit of eating her poop and I don’t understand why. I he changed her food 3 times and she now is on Science diet which supposed to be better than her previous brands but the habit still persists.. what should I do?

  • anusha August 31, 2015, 3:47 am

    Thank you for the colume will try the different options . Really concerned about my Levi a german shepherd 3months old . He is only on Eukunuba puppy for large breed .

  • tricia fohey June 30, 2015, 8:06 pm

    I have a male and female bichon both age 7,my female does not eat her own stool,but my male bichon will eat hers and his stool. He is a rescue dog we have had for about 4 years.
    I decided to make their dog food when my female started having skin alergies.
    The dog food ingredients are raw gr turkey,raw eggs,aleo vera juices,apples,peas,lima beans,spinach,sweet potatoes, reg potatos,oatmeal mixed all together.
    They have one cup each morning and apple treats through out the day.
    I just dont understand why he does these.

  • Deborah Vanzella June 10, 2015, 1:02 pm

    I need to know why my male dachshund eats my female dachshund poop. They are not related. He does not eat his own poop. He is not undernourished he goes to the vet regularly has his blood work done regularly so I don’t know why he does it. He tries to hide his by pushing the grass over it to cover his. I never ever hit my dogs or put their nose in their poop. I don’t hit them at all. I’ve never had a dog do this.

  • brenda marino May 27, 2015, 7:36 am

    HELP !! I GIVE TABS THAT MAKE HIM DILIKE THE TADTE -BUT ITS NOT WORKING -HELP ##

  • Delaney May 27, 2015, 5:00 am

    i think dogs do eat poop!!!!!

  • Prabu May 25, 2015, 10:29 pm

    I have two St. Bernard pups male and female . Male one z having this habit

  • Aleesha May 14, 2015, 7:52 pm

    my dog loves to eat kangaroo and bird poop.EKKKKKKKKKK

  • madelyn cruzbaez April 17, 2015, 5:56 pm

    Por que los perro comen caca

  • Lauren April 16, 2015, 2:50 am

    My Weimarana eats her poop, she has been sterilised and is currently 4 years old. She’s been eating her poop since she was a puppy and we have tried everything to make her stop but she just won’t! She has anxiety and even when my dad is home all day with her she still does it, she eats well and has lots of toys and we always spend time playing with her but I don’t understand why she still does it.

    If anyone has any advice, please share

  • chris April 3, 2015, 8:28 pm

    That was a very enjoyable read and some great information on Coprophagia. i thought the idea of the stronger dog covering up the weaker dogs smell was especially interesting.
    Thanks a lot

    Chris

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