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Why Do Dogs Eat Poop? I Everything You Need to Know

New dog owners may be familiar with that awkward dog park moment of seeing your pup eat its own feces. If you’ve experienced this, maybe you were a little embarrassed at the time and wondered, “why do dogs eat poop?” For many dog owners, it’s a complete mystery.

We all know how mortifying it can be to see your precious angel doing something so gross as poop eating. Many owners find it quite upsetting when their dogs eat their own feces, but it’s a more common behavior amongst canines than you might think.

This post will finally answer your question, “why does my dog eat poop?” All of the information below should explain this confusing canine behavior, possible medical issues and the real motivation behind why dogs eat poop in the first place.

fluffy white dog with poop emoji pillow why do dogs eat poop

Why Do Dogs Eat Poop? 3 Causes

When people see a dog eating poop, they’re most likely to feel repulsed and a bit queasy. They wonder why a dog would eat something so foul, especially when it’s their own poop that they’re snacking on. But believe it or not, many dogs of all ages act this way (yes, your adult dog, too), and it is a natural behavior for them to see their poop as a tasty treat.

1. Coprophagia Explained

Dogs consuming their feces is so common that there is actually a scientific name for it. The action of eating one’s own feces is called coprophagia, a practice common in young dogs and young puppies. While many dogs grow out of coprophagia as they get older, some continue the practice far into their senior years.

This issue is not as disgusting as you may think, as dogs have several justifiable reasons for doing it. It’s just as common a behavioral issue as excessive howling, digging, or when dogs bark at night. Next time your puppy eats poop, go easy on him because this is normal behavior and he may be suffering from the medical health issues explained below.

dog paws and person picking up poop

2. Medical Causes

There are several possible reasons for dogs eating poop, both behavioral and health problems. Your dog may have an underlying medical problem. One possible medical reason is that your dog isn’t absorbing enough nutrients in its diet from dog food. These nutritional deficiencies don’t necessarily mean they have a poor diet. Instead, something is getting in the way of their nutrient absorption processes.

One likely suspect is intestinal parasites like ringworm, tapeworm, or hookworm, which your dog may have ingested from eating contaminated food, water, or soil.

These parasites can keep their host dog from receiving the nutrients they need, which could explain your canine’s sudden interest in eating its own poop. The dog could be malnourished, thanks to the parasite stealing essential minerals, vitamins and most nutritional value from your puppy’s diet.

3. Behavioural Causes

Another possibility is that your dog is practicing coprophagia for behavioral reasons rather than medical ones. This is the most common reason why puppies become poop eaters. They simply do it out of curiosity or as a form of playing.

This is not unlike human babies, who will often put anything in their mouths when they’re playing and investigating new tastes and sensations as they begin exploring their surroundings. Similarly, some puppies are only messing around when they eat their poop, which means you don’t need to worry about any underlying medical conditions. 

fluffy white dog on toilet

How to Stop Dogs Eating Poop – 3 Potential Solutions

If your puppy or young dog eats poop, I have good news. There are tricks and methods that you can follow to get your furry friend to stop practicing coprophagia. If you want to know how to stop your puppy from eating poop, keep reading for the best way to curb your dog from eating its own stool.

1. Preventative Measures

One of the easiest ways to stop your dog from eating poop is to make sure they never get the opportunity to do it in the first place. This means constant maintenance to ensure there is never any dog feces lying around the property that your dog can get to.

Where possible, go outside with your dog when they need to relieve themselves. Then you can pick up the feces straight away, eliminating any chance of your puppy eating poop that’s left lying around.

Another surefire preventative tactic is making sure your dog eats a healthy and balanced diet. Choose high-quality, nutrient-rich, breed-specific dog foods to make sure your pup is at peak health and happiness. In addition, keep in mind that the best dog foods for puppies are not always adequate for senior dogs.

You should also take your pet for regular check-ups to a veterinarian, who will confirm whether your dog is suffering from malnourishment or not.

fluffy white dog taking a poop

2. Corrective Measures

As mentioned, the reason why dogs eat their poop can sometimes be chalked up to behavioral issues. Keep reading to learn how to stop a dog from eating poop by implementing some simple training practices with your pooch.

When your dog goes out to relieve itself, follow along behind him to his chosen spot. Make sure he is wearing a leash every time you do this.

Once your dog has finished pooping, wait a moment to see what he does next. If he tries to sniff the poop or walk towards it, tug at his leash and give him a command he’s familiar with to indicate to him that you want him to stop.

Next, command your dog to sit or be still while you pick up the dog poop with a pooper scooper. It’s essential that you do not budge on this, as you want your dog to get used to the idea of being utterly behaved when he’s around feces.

If he tries to move again while you pick up the poop, command him again to be still and don’t give up. Keep commanding your dog until he behaves and sits entirely still, so you can finish picking up the dog’s poop. Once you’ve finished the task at hand, you can give your dog a reward treat or some other positive reinforcement to show him he’s done a good job.

It’s a good idea to repeat this process with your dog consistently until he exhibits the behavior you want to see.

spotted dog taking a poop

3. Home Remedies

If you’ve already tried changing your dog’s diet, consulting a veterinarian, and training them to stop eating poop, home remedies may be the answer you’re looking for. Some owners have found great success in this method, which can trick your dog into hating the act of eating its own poop.

Home remedies can stop dogs from eating poop by giving them a negative association with their own feces. All you need to make this happen is a few basic ingredients found in most homes.

Grab some vinegar from your pantry (any kind will do) and douse your dog’s stool with it. When your dog inevitably licks the poop, he will despise the taste of the vinegar and stop immediately.

This may not be effective the first time around, but after a few iterations, your dog will start to believe that all feces taste like vinegar. This should get your dog to stop eventually.

white dog with person picking up poop

Help! My Dog Eats Poop!

Hopefully, this article has given you all the information you need to get your dog to stop eating its own poop. Remember to keep your veterinarian in the loop to make sure your dog’s health is getting the best treatment possible, and good luck with the poop deterrents.

I covered all of the costs associated with writing this post on why do dogs eat poop. However, it does contain affiliate links. That means if you click through on some of the links in this article and end up making a purchase I may receive a small commission. It won’t affect the price that you pay. Just wanted to let you know.

labrador with toilet rolls

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