Why Dogs Eat Poop

Heed these takeaways:

  • The technical term for eating feces is coprophagia.
  • Eating poop is a common problem for dogs, but it’s also quite normal behavior.
  • There are many reasons dogs eat poop, including poor diet, boredom, health problems and even to get attention.
  • You can stop your dog eating poop by ruling out health problems, cleaning up after her and feeding a high-quality food.

While they have many wonderful and endearing traits, our pups are also capable of some pretty gross things.

Some love nothing more than rolling around in the stinkiest, messiest pile of God-knows-what straight after a bath. Others specialize in depositing a big, steaming pile of nastiness in the worst possible place (and at the worst possible time). 

But there are few things your pup can do that can gross you out more than eating poop. Whether they’re sampling some of their own or chowing down on another dog’s business, it’s more than enough to turn anyone’s stomach.

But why do dogs eat poop? Let’s take a closer look.

Why dogs eat poop

The act of eating feces is more formally known as coprophagia. You might be surprised to learn that eating poo is actually a quite common, and perfectly normal, behavior for dogs.

But why do they do it? There are actually several potential reasons, such as:

  • A poor diet that doesn’t provide all the nutrients and calories they need.
  • Worms and intestinal parasites that steal nutrients from the dog.
  • Health problems, for example pancreatic insufficiency or diabetes.
  • Boredom, particularly if left alone for long periods of time.
  • Emotional stress and anxiety. For example, if you punish your dog for any accidents during the house training process, she may try to eat the “evidence” of any future accidents.
  • To get attention — if eating poop has elicited a big response from you in the past, your pup might decide to do it again.

But while eating poop is perfectly normal behavior, it’s obviously something you’ll want to put a stop to as soon as possible. Not only is it downright disgusting, but there are several illnesses that can be transferred through coprophagia, including everything from worms to the dreaded parvovirus.

How to stop your dog eating poop

There are several simple things you can do to ensure that your dog no longer feels the need to feast on feces:

  • Feed a high-quality diet. Make sure your pet is eating a high-quality diet that satisfies all her nutritional needs, like Heed.
  • Eliminate any health problems. Stay up to date with your pup’s worm control and monitor them for any signs of illness. And if you think there may be a health problem causing your dog to eat poop, get her checked out by a vet.
  • Make sure all your pup’s needs are met. To prevent coprophagia due to boredom or anxiety, make sure your pup is getting plenty of regular exercise and mental stimulation. Lots of attention and TLC from you are also essential.
  • Keep it clean. Remove the temptation to eat poop by keeping your yard as clean as possible. You’ll also need to supervise your dog closely when out on a walk or at your local park to keep them away from other dogs’ poo.
  • Train your pup. You can also work on training your dog to come to you for a tasty treat straight after doing a poo. This will hopefully help eliminate the urge to taste-test the mess they’ve just made.

Finally, if none of the above methods work, ask your vet for advice. He or she may be able to recommend other potential solutions, such as a vitamin supplement or medication, to help solve the problem.

Overcoming coprophagia can take a little while, but it’s well worth it. Not only will it help your pet stay healthy, it’ll also make it a whole lot more hygienic when your pup decides to smother you with kisses!