Why Does My Dog Eat Poop? A Quick Guide on How to Stop It

Why Does My Dog Eat Poop? A Quick Guide on How to Stop It

As embarrassing as it is to admit, we all have seen our doggos eat poop at one time or another. Among the many disgusting things we find them doing (drinking from the toilet bowl, rolling in the mud, etc.), this is probably the worst. Let's find out why dogs eat poop and what we can do to stop it.

They Do It Out of Habit

If you've seen a mama dog give birth, you'll know that they lick their puppies' genital areas to stimulate defecation. They will then eat the stool, which stems from a primitive and evolutionary behavior. This keeps their den clean while preventing the smell from drawing unwanted attention, especially from predators.

Dog mamas will do this for the next three weeks of their pups' lives which the little doggos may mimic. This behavior will soon fade during adulthood. However, some dogs continue to do it throughout life.

They May Lack Nutrients

You may not be aware of it, but your dog's dietary needs change throughout their lifetime. This is why you'll see dog food specifically made for puppies, adults, and senior dogs. Their diets also differ depending on their breed or health conditions.

If you discover your dog eating poop, it may be a sign that they lack the nutrients they need for their age, breed, or health. They do this as their way of getting those nutrients.

They're Lonely

Studies show that dogs who are kept alone in cages, kennels, or basements have a bigger tendency to eat poop than those who live with humans. The stress and boredom that comes with isolation can lead to unusual behaviors, which include coprophagia (poop-eating). They are social creatures who crave companionship, and being deprived of it may result in this behavior.

They're Anxious or Stressed

Often, poop-eating in dogs comes from harsh punishment methods during house training. Dogs eat their own poop in the hopes of getting rid of something that they will get punished for. This causes them anxiety and stress.

They Have Parasites

Intestinal parasites such as hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms can lead your dogs to eat poop. These creatures suck the nutrients out of your doggy's diet, leaving them with almost none. They will then try to find nutrition from other sources. 

Another similar cause of poop-eating in dogs is malabsorption. This is the condition where your dog does not fully absorb the nutrients in the food they eat. Their bodies' instinct is to consume more to try and find nutrition that can fulfill their needs.

They Like the Taste

Most common in puppies, poop eating is fun to them as these taste good. As revolting as it may sound, dogs eat poop not because of some tragic reason but only because they like the taste of it. It is digested food, if you think about it.

Also, poop of other species may seem appetizing to them, the reason your dog eats your cat's poop. Or other animals like horses, which have a different make from dogs' and cats' feces.

They Want Attention

What's your first reaction when you see your doggo eating poop? You'd probably scream for them to stop! This means they have your undivided attention, which can be a valid reason for them to do it. They may see this as a fun game they want to play again and again, until you find the most effective ways to stop it.

How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Poop

Depending on the reasons why they do it, here are several ways to stop your dog from eating poop:

  • First, talk to your vet about it. This helps you rule out any health conditions that may be the cause of the behavior. And if it is indeed due to a medical condition, your vet can start treatment and help you get your dog to stop.
  • If your dog lacks nutrition, you may want to review what you're feeding them and consult your veterinarian for dietary and vitamin supplementation. They may refer you to a veterinary nutritionist for further observations and treatment.
  • If your dog likes eating your cat's poop, you should put the litter tray somewhere your dog won't reach or one which only your cat can access. You can also try using baby gates to keep them off the litter box.
  • Supervise your dog's time when they're outside. This helps you stop them from eating things they aren't supposed to which can have parasites that can enter their bloodstream.
  • Give your pups games and puzzles they find interesting. This will keep them distracted and take their minds off eating poop.
  • Reward their good behavior instead of punishing them. This reinforces what they learned during house training.
  • Get rid of poop right away. Ensure that there isn't any lying around for them to get into, this prevents your dogs from scavenging, which comes as instinct to them.
  • Train your dog to keep off poop. Just as you can train them to do things, you can also teach them not to go near poop. If it proves to be difficult, you can always try and try. Remember to be patient and consistent so they can learn this.
  • Try giving them pineapples. While no scientific study proves this, it's a common 'treatment' for coprophagia in dogs. Even if it does not work, pineapples are a good source of nutrition for dogs. Chop a few small pieces and give them to your dogs, there really is no harm in trying.
  • For dogs that are confined, you may want to change a few areas of their cages, crates, or kennels. A bigger area or a few more toys can help ease the boredom of their isolation.
  • For dogs that eat poop due to anxiety, you may consider seeking the help of a veterinary behaviorist to get recommendations and treatment.
  • You may find poop-eating deterrent products in stores or online shops. While these are not verified to be effective, you may want to give it a try. Alternatively, you can try a natural approach by giving them pre and probiotics, digestive enzymes, or vitamin B supplements. Ask your vet about it to ensure you give them the right ones.
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