Anna Olson

Anna has a passion for keeping pets healthy and happy. She grew up with a Great Pyrenees as a family dog. Currently and currently has an orange tabby. She worked at a dog grooming and bathing salon where she learnt more about canine behavior and bathing. She lives in Wisconsin, in the United States. When she is not writing, she helps her partner run their small business, knitting, and enjoying local parks.

SHARE
Health Learn About Dogs Raising a Dog

Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

user
Anna Olson
Jul 27 ·

Why do dogs eat poop? You may have noticed your dog eating poop out in your yard. Maybe they’re drawn to the poop of other animals, like rabbits and geese. Is this normal? Is there an underlying reason why they engage in this gross behavior?

There are a number of reasons why dogs eat poop. The act of eating feces is called coprophagia. It’s also very common among dogs and other animals, like rabbits.

There are some instances of poop-eating that are just normal for a dog of your dog’s age. Some, however, should be addressed. We have more reasons to explain why your dog may be eating poop, and how to help them break the habit.

It’s Part Of Their DNA

All domestic dogs have evolutionary roots from the wild. Wild canids, like wolves, coyotes, and foxes, evolved not only to hunt in packs but also to scavenge. In periods when not much food was available, they turned to eating stuff we find gross and offensive. This included not just garbage and carrion, but, sometimes, poop.

Poop, both their own and those from other animals, provided nutrition and important supplemental vitamins and minerals. In serious situations, eating poop could save the lives of the pack. When your dog eats some poop, it’s part of a legacy of preventing starvation in their wild ancestors.

why do dogs eat poop

It’s Normal At Certain Ages

Coprophagia is considered normal behavior for puppies and their mothers. A mother dog has to teach her puppies to poop and pee, since they can’t do it on their own for a while. She does this by licking their back ends, stimulating them. For the first three weeks of their lives, she’ll also take care of her puppies’ poop by eating it.

Once the puppies are old enough, they’ll start exploring. Like many animal babies, puppies are just learning about the world around them. They do this with all their senses, including taste. Often, this means putting something in their mouths, and this something is often poop.

Puppies are most often drawn to eat their own or other dogs’ feces. However, some are also attracted to the feces of other animals, including geese, cats, and horses. Eating their own poop, or that of other dogs, should not cause any harm. However, the poop of other animals is more likely to contain harmful viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Since a puppy still has a developing immune system, this could present a real problem. If you’re caring for a puppy, do your best to keep it away from the poop of other animals.

Most puppies outgrow this exploratory poop-eating by the time they’re nine months old. There are some instances where an older dog will revert to eating poop.

Why Do Older Dogs Eat Poop?

There are a few reasons why a dog older than puppy age may start eating poop again. Some have to do with nutrition. Others are related to the dog’s upbringing or current environment. Whatever the reason, there are solutions to help your dog get over this undesirable habit.

They Eat Poop To Get Supplemental Nutrients

Like their wild ancestors, your dog may be eating poop to get some vitamin or mineral they’re lacking in their current diet. According to expert research, eating poop can help provide essential B vitamins, including thiamine, which aren’t produced by the body. Changing your dog’s diet to include more B-vitamins, or supplementing with a multivitamin, may be the solution your dog needs to stop eating poop. As always, consult with your veterinarian or a certified pet nutritionist before changing your dog’s diet or trying out a supplement.

They’re Living With Other Dogs

Poop-eating is more common in households with multiple dogs than single dogs. This is especially true of the 85% of poop-eating dogs who only like to eat other dogs’ poop. Sometimes, a healthy dog will eat the feces of a weaker or sicker dog in their household. This behavior stems from a pack instinct to protect the weaker members from predators.

The best solution here is prevention. Make sure to pick up any poop in your dogs’ yard. Pick up poop right away when you’re walking together. If there are any other animals in your house, like cats, make sure to keep their litterbox clean and out of reach of your dogs.

They’re Trying To Get Your Attention

Some dogs use undesirable behavior to get the attention of their owner. Sometimes, this involves poop-eating. It doesn’t matter in these instances if the attention is positive or negative. If you pay attention to them because of their bad behavior, they’ll continue to do it.

If this is the case for your dog, ignore them when they eat poop. Focus positive praise and attention on behaviors you want to encourage.

They’ve Been Punished For Housebreaking Mistakes In The Past

Unfortunately, poop-eating for your dog may be a behavioral result of past abuse. A dog who was punished for going to the bathroom in inappropriate places may start to eat it to get rid of it. Of course, the owner may then punish the dog for eating it, creating a negative and vicious punishment cycle. The same is true of dogs who were kept in small spaces only, like kennels or basements.

While it will take some work, you can counteract the results of this trauma with patience and kindness. Instead of punishing your dog with harsh words and rubbing their face in their “mistake,” teach them to “leave it” and to come when called. This is a much more effective and kinder way to encourage desirable behavior. You should also be able to consult your veterinarian on more effective training strategies for your dog.

What Else Can I Do?

The best first step when trying to get your dog to stop eating poop is to consult with your veterinarian. They’ll be better able to determine a cause for this behavior. They should also be able to recommend proper nutritional and enzyme supplements if necessary. If the cause is behavioral, your vet can recommend better training strategies.

Whatever the reason for it, you can help stop your dog from eating poop.

You might also wonder…Why do dogs eat grass?

user
WRITTEN BY
Anna Olson

Anna has a passion for keeping pets healthy and happy. She grew up with a Great Pyrenees as a family dog. Currently and currently has an orange tabby. She worked at a dog grooming and bathing salon where she learnt more about canine behavior and bathing. She lives in Wisconsin, in the United States. When she is not writing, she helps her partner run their small business, knitting, and enjoying local parks.

Recent posts
Pomeagle Names
Are you looking for the best Pomeagle names? Picking a name for your dog can be one of the hardest things to do but we have a little help here to get you started. These breed specific names should be a great help in terms of finding something that matches perfectly. You can read more about the Pomeagle breed in detail here if you are still thinking about getting a...
The 50 Best Girl Dog Names
Are you looking for some classic girl dog names? We have you covered. It can be hard when choosing between names. There are so many great ones that settling on just one and being sure you like it a few years down the line can seem almost impossible. However, the sooner you name your dog, the better. Dogs can learn their name, and it’ll come in handy in their life. It...
Samoyed Puppies
The Samoyed is also known as “Sammie” or “Smiley,” an adorable dog breed with a well-known fluffy white coat. They are friendly and make great companion dogs. This doggo will be good for most households, so if you’re thinking of getting a puppy, consider looking into Samoyed puppies. A brief overview of the Samoyed The Samoyed looks smaller than they seem. They are a medium-to-large-sized dog breed, standing about 19...
Find by breed
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Next