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Owner picking up poop for dog

Why Does My Dog Eat Poop and How to Stop It

Why Does My Dog Eat Poop and How to Stop It

We all love our furmily, but there’s no doubt that they can be pretty weird sometimes. Our pups do a lot of strange things, from chasing their tail, digging holes to butt sniffing. But really nothing is stranger than eating poop. This leaves us wondering: what’s behind this bizarre behavior?

Poop eating is scientifically referred to as coprophagia, and it is not rare among dogs. It is a condition caused by both behavioral and physiological reasons; some are normal while some are not.  


Normal reasons why dogs eat poop:

Normal reasons for dog eats poop

Caring for their babies

Nursing female dogs might eat the feces of their babies from birth to 3 months to keep their den clean. 

Imitating their mother’s behavior

Since puppies do not know any better, they will naturally engage in poop eating as an act of following their mother’s lead.


Dogs in multi-dog households may assert dominance by consuming the feces of another dog and replacing it with their own. This is similar, but perhaps more "extreme" to marking over top of another dog's urine and defecating on top of another dog's feces. 


Abnormal reasons why dogs eat poop:

Abnormal reasons for dogs eat poop


Dogs might eat the stool of their own or other animals, such as cats and horses, when their diets are deficient in nutrients or when they are constantly hungry or malnourished. Other animals’ poop can contain harmful bacteria or substances, therefore it is best to discourage this behavior.


Dogs who are left alone or confined in restricted, small spaces such as crowded shelters, kennels, basements are more likely have poop-consuming problem than those dogs who live close with their humans.


It’s almost inevitable for us to react to seeing our dog eats poop. Dogs learn from the interactions they have with us. They can misunderstand it as a way to get a reaction from their humans.

Inappropriate association

If you place your dog’s food near where they do their business, the chance is they might confuse the odor of food and feces, causing them to associate poop with meals.


If they have been repeatedly scolded or punished or by their humans for defecating in the house, some dogs might develop poop-eating behavior to hide the evidence as they are worried about being penalized for the accident.

Not feeling well

In some cases, coprophagia (aka poop eating) is associated with parasites, intestinal tract diseases and health conditions in other parts of the body such as liver and brain. Dogs with diabetes might suddenly start eating poop due to an increase in appetite.

How to stop my dog from eating poop?

Although poop eating is common among dogs, it is not something we should ignore since it can make your dog sick. Here are a few strategies you can employ to curb and prevent your pups from eating poop.

Feed your dog a complete and balanced diet

If your dog is fed a diet that does not provide complete nutrition, consider switching to a "complete and balanced" diet, with a nutritional adequacy claim in accordance with your regional pet food associations (in North America this is the Association of American Feed Control Officials, known as AAFCO). 

Feed your dogs supplements

If your dog is fed a "complete and balanced" diet but has been demonstrated to have specific nutrient deficiencies, speak with your veterinarian to determine appropriate supplementation, which may include B vitamins, probiotics and enzyme supplements

Stop punishment and start positive training

Do not yell at or punish your dog for defecating. Instead, praise them and give them a treat when they have finished their business and returned without consuming feces in order to reinforce their potty training in a positive way. Over the time, they will learn that their poop will not get them into trouble and there is no reason to hide the evidence by eating them.

Redirect your dog’s attention

Sometimes dogs eat poop to get your attention or when they are lonely. Spend some quality time with your pup to build a healthy relationship with them. There is no shortcut for this. Dogs are just like children. They need a secured relationship with the people that are important to them in order to feel safe and settled.

Walk your dog

If your dog is confined to the house or small areas for a long period of time, they will get bored. Boredom in dogs can lead to problematic behaviors, and more importantly, unhappy dogs. You are truly everything to your dog, and they really rely on you to take them out on outdoor adventures to explore the world.

If your adult or senior dog suddenly develops the poop eating habit or other abnormal signs, including loss or sudden increase in appetite, drastic weight change, lethargy, diarrhea or other behavior changes, consult your veterinarian immediately.