The ick factor for their people is the biggest issue with dogs eating excrement.
Dogs, especially pups, eat a lot of stuff they shouldn’t, including their excrement and the feces of other dogs and even other animals.
As disgusting as it may appear, dogs eating excrement is fairly common. That being said, here are some reasons your dog could eat poop.
Do you have a specific question about dogs eating poop? Then use the table of contents below to jump to the most relevant section. And you can always go back by clicking on the black arrow in the right bottom corner of the page. Also, please note that some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. For more details, check the Disclosure section at the bottom of the page.
Here's what we'll cover:
- They enjoy the taste of other animals’ poop
- Anxiety and stress
- They Want to Get Your Attention
- Deficiency of Enzymes
- Certain medical conditions or meds
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- EPI – Exocrine Pancreative Insufficiency
- What Are the Dangers of Eating Poop?
- Tips to Train Your Dog to Stop Eating Poop
They enjoy the taste of other animals’ poop
Dogs will occasionally consume the feces of another species. Other animals’ feces, such as horses’ or cats,’ contains minerals that can be healthy (although it can also include hazardous bacteria, so it’s better to avoid).
It’s in a dog’s genome. Dogs are omnivores, with their intestines adjusted to digest meat, who scavenge, forage, and enjoy carrion smells/tastes like nasty, intense aromas and things to play with and eat. According to Hartstein, dogs eat a variety of non-nutritional items for enjoyment or because they find them interesting.
Coprophagia may be an inherited trait from dogs’ predecessors, wolves, according to a 2018 study.
Because their excrement included parasite eggs, wolves defecated outside their dens. If a wolf was too sick or injured to go poop elsewhere, it would consume the poop to defend the pack.
The researchers emphasized that parasite eggs can become infective after a few days. This could also explain why dogs eat only a day or two old feces.
Poop eating is a natural behavior in certain periods of a dog’s life, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Mother dogs, for example, lick their puppies to get them to perform their business. They also clean up after their puppies for the first three weeks after birth by eating their feces.
Puppies instinctively emulate this behavior by eating their own feces as well as the poop of other dogs.
Anxiety and stress
Stressed dogs may soothe their anxiety by eating things they shouldn’t, such as excrement. But, unfortunately, it’s also a sad fact that puppies from puppy factories are raised in stressful circumstances and are undernourished.
When other dogs are anxious, they will consume poop as a distraction. A stressed dog may defecate and eat its own poop if confined.
Anxiety can produce coprophagia in the following situations:
- General anxiety
- Concerned about confinement
- You being separated from them (separation anxiety)
- When restricted, there is a lack of enrichment activities.
They Want to Get Your Attention
Some dogs may have started eating excrement when they were young because it seemed like a game to them. Puppies, for example, may investigate by grabbing their feces with their mouths while they are young. If your dog does this, you will most likely run towards them and yell something like “drop it!”
When this occurs, some puppies may be scared and drop the dung, never to be touched again. Other puppies may take the yelling as an enthusiastic invitation to play.
As a result, they dart away, and an impromptu chase ensues. These puppies have discovered a new way to entice their owners to play with them.
Your dog may not even want to play or simply want you to interact with them. This is then passed down to your dog as an adult as a taught behavior that attracts their attention.
It’s really tough not to notice a dog eating poop.
Deficiency of Enzymes
Dogs today eat fewer diversified diets than wild dogs did before domestication. As a result, their bodies frequently lack sufficient digestive enzymes to digest their food. You may ensure your dog’s vitamin absorption by supplementing his diet with a good digestive enzyme.
Certain medical conditions or meds
Thyroid disease, diabetes, and Cushing’s disease are some disorders that might cause dogs to become hungry and eat their feces.
As a side effect, drugs such as steroids, benzodiazepines, and some antihistamines can cause increased hunger.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Because IBD’s persistent inflammation can prevent your dog from absorbing nutrition, he may turn to feces eating. Chronic diarrhea and unexplained weight loss are two further signs.
EPI – Exocrine Pancreative Insufficiency
Dogs with EPI cannot break down and absorb nutrients. Thus they require supplements to avoid starvation. Weight loss, ravenous appetite, stool eating, and diarrhea are all symptoms. However, EPI is a dangerous condition that can be controlled with diet and supplements.
Parasites rob your dog of nutrients. You may need to take a fecal sample to your veterinarian for testing to determine whether your dog has worms or other parasites such as giardia or coccidia.
Many meals can help your dog get rid of parasites.
Diabetes and hypothyroidism might cause your dog to crave food. Steroids, for example, can make your dog ravenous. If your dog is deficient in nutrients, he will look for them in his excrement. When dogs are malnourished, they consume their feces.
If your dog is losing weight, he may require additional food. Feed a fresh, whole food meal to ensure an array of nutrients.
What Are the Dangers of Eating Poop?
Eating their own feces poses only minor health dangers to dogs. However, if your dog kisses, you may be concerned about him transmitting bacteria and parasites to you and your family. If your dog persists in eating excrement, you should dissuade him from licking people and, if required, properly wash your face and hands! Teach your children to do the same.
If your dog consumes the feces of other animals, especially wild animals, keep an eye out for parasites. It’s simple to send a fecal sample to the vet for testing.
Because your dog may have bad breath from eating poop, you should wash his teeth more frequently.
Tips to Train Your Dog to Stop Eating Poop
First, be sure no underlying medical issues are causing the behavior. If your veterinarian determines that the problem is behavioral, you can train your dog to quit.
- Limit your exposure to poop. Dogs who want to eat excrement prefer fresh feces, so tidy up waste from your yard as soon as possible. If you have cats, this includes cleaning out the litter box immediately after your cat uses it and putting the trash somewhere your dog cannot access.
- Make a toy available for potty breaks. Bring a toy or a treat with you if your dog is seeking items to eat in the yard when you let them out to do their business. Please don’t give them time to look for themselves.
- Maintain a cheerful attitude during training. To teach orders like leave it, use positive reinforcement and incentives. Breaking a bad habit might take time, so be patient.
- Consider using dietary supplements. If you’ve recently reduced your dog’s calorie intake, consider switching to a high-fiber recipe. Taking enzyme pills can make their own excrement taste less appetizing. Adding papaya, cottage cheese, or crushed pineapple to dog chow has helped some owners quit the habit.
Thanks for the blog graphics: Canva.com
Doghint.com is a participant of several affiliate programs. The list includes (but not limited to) the following: VigLink, Refersion, ShareASale, and Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a mean for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Doghint.com does not intend to provide veterinary advice. All published articles are meant for informational purposes only and not substitute the professional veterinary consultation.