Why Do Dogs Eat Poop? Top 7 Reasons and How to Stop It

why do dogs eat poop

From licking their own butts to drinking from the toilet bowl, dogs have many repulsive habits that can at times leave you feeling nauseated. But the one that tops the list of disgusting dog habits is eating poop. Why do dogs eat poop and how can you stop it? Continue reading to find out the answers.

Top 7 Reasons Why Dogs Eat Poop

Top 7 Reasons Why Dogs Eat Poop

Sometimes a dog will eat its own poop or that of other animals including cats, horses, birds, and goats. This behavior can start at any stage of your dog’s growth. So, why do dogs behave this way? There are many reasons why your dog might start to eat poop.

In most cases, a dog will start to eat poop because of various kinds of environmental stresses and behavioral triggers. Here are the top 7 reasons why your dog could be eating poop.

1. Isolation

Research has revealed that dogs that are kept in isolation, such as the ones living in kennels and basements, are more likely to eat their own poop than those living close to their owners and other pets. So, if your dog suddenly starts to eat its own poop, you need to check if it’s lonely or isolated.

2. Restrictive Confinement

Your dog might start to eat its own poop if it’s spending most of the time confined in a small space. Dogs living in confinement always display signs of coprophagia – the consumption of feces.

Coprophagy refers to different kinds of feces-eating, including eating feces of other animals (heterospecifics) or their own (autocoprophagy). Dogs with this condition will eat feces when it has been dropped on the ground or take it directly from the anus.

3. Anxiety

Anxiety can cause a dog to eat its own poop or that of other animals and humans. This often happens when a dog is punished harshly during house training. In this case, the dog will eat its own poop in an attempt to hide the evidence.

Unfortunately, most dog owners and trainers will punish their dogs more when they eat their own poop, making it a vicious cycle.

4. Seeking Attention

Sometimes a dog will eat its own poop or that of other pets to catch the attention of its owner. Unfortunately, most dog owners will overreact when their dog does this, causing apprehension. Punishing your dog for this behavior will most likely lead to defiance and an incessant poop-eating behavior.

5. Wrong Association with Food

If you are used to feeding your dog next to its feces or that of other animals, it might inappropriately associate the smell of food with that of the feces. Soon, the dog won’t be able to differentiate between the smell of real food and that of poop.

6. Scenting It On the Mother

Sometimes puppies will be confused by the fecal odor on their mother’s breath after she cleans them. In other instances, their mother may regurgitate food mixed with the puppies’ fecal matter. This leads to an appetitive inoculation, which sets the puppies up to develop the habit of eating poop.

7. Living with Sick or Elderly Dogs

Sometimes healthy dogs will eat poop from sickly or elderly dogs, especially those suffering from fecal incontinence – the inability to bowel movement. Research has also shown that this behavior is related to the urge to protect the sick and elderly dogs from predators.

What Diseases Can Dogs Get from Eating Poop?

What Diseases Can Dogs Get from Eating Poop

Although it is generally wrong and repulsive for dogs to eat poop, there are circumstances when it is considered normal.

For instance, when a mother dog deliberately ingests her puppies’ poop to conceal their scent as a way of protecting them against predators. But for purposes of health and cleanliness, it is important to stop your dog from ingesting poop.

What happens if your dog eats poop? Will it get sick? The truth is that a dog can get sick from eating poop but it rarely happens. Eating poop is almost considered a canine ritual that is passed down from mother to puppy. But although it is highly unlikely, it does happen depending on the situation.

If a dog eats poop from other dogs or even other animals, it might get sick because feces have remnants of whatever the animal ate. Therefore, it is highly likely that something in the poop won’t sit well with the dog.

For instance, if a dog eats feces from a sheep that has been given deworming medication, there will be remnants of the medicine in the poop, which could make the dog sick.

In most cases, the symptoms manifested by your dog after eating poop are not the direct result of ingesting poop, but rather eating poop that contains substances that your dog’s immune system isn’t familiar with or is sensitive to. Some of the most common symptoms of eating poop include:

• Nausea and vomiting

• Diarrhea

• Lethargy

• Loss of appetite

• Intestinal worms

As indicated above, some dogs will eat poop because they are suffering from coprophagia. Although this is a rudimentary and harmless habit, it can easily affect your dog’s health. This can lead to serious weight loss due to frequent diarrhea and loss of appetite.

Although it’s normal for a dog to eat poop, you should consult your veterinarian immediately if your dog experiences frequent stomach problems or eats nothing else but poop. Your veterinarian will examine the dog to determine if there are any underlying problems.

Is It Safe for Dogs to Eat Poop?

Is It Safe for Dogs to Eat Poop

Although it’s an undesirable trait, your dog’s ingestion of its own poop is normally harmless. Eating the feces of other animals, however, might expose your dog and your family to dangerous parasites and illnesses. Your dog can be infested with parasites from wild animals or stray pets, or it could keep re-infesting itself if it already has worms.

People can also contract harmful parasites from poop through their skin, such as hookworms. Furthermore, it is unhygienic and sickening to have a dog that eats its own poop or that of other animals.

How to Clean a Dog’s Mouth After Eating Poop

How to Clean a Dog's Mouth After Eating Poop

Most dog owners resort to punishing their dogs when they eat poop. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help. In fact, the dog might become even more defiant and continue with the habit of eating its own poop. So, instead of punishing your dog, you should help to clean its mouth. Here are a few simple ways to clean your dog’s mouth after eating feces.

1. Give It Food and Water

Since dogs produce excess saliva when eating, you should give your dog food immediately after eating poop. The excess saliva will help to clean the dog’s mouth naturally. Then give it water to naturally rinse away the germs and poop residue.

2. Give It Dental Chew

When your dog eats poop, give it a dental treat to chew on. This helps the dog to produce enough saliva to clean its mouth. The treat will also help to create friction in the dog’s mouth and get rid of the poop residue.

3. Wipe the Dog’s Mouth

Hold your dog still and wipe its gums, roof of the mouth, and tongue. But do not stick your fingers too deep into the mouth so that your dog doesn’t gag.

4. Use Mouth Wash

You can clean your dog’s mouth with a doggy mouthwash. There are many mouthwash products at your local pet store. Add a few drops of mouthwash to the water and use it to wipe your dog’s mouth.

How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Poop

How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Poop

The question on most people’s minds when they see their dogs eating feces is: How can I stop my dog from eating poop? Here are a few tips to help you end this disgusting behavior.

1. Prevent Access

Your dog won’t be tempted to eat poop if it’s not there. Therefore, you need to find a way to dispose of the feces in your home immediately. If your dog seems interested in your cat’s poop, restrict its access to the cat’s litter box. Also, make sure the litter box is emptied at least twice a day.

2. Proper Training

It is important to make it clear to your dog that eating its own poop and that of other animals is unacceptable. You can do this through positive reinforcement and proper training. But remember that punishing your dog won’t do the trick, especially if it is eating poop to catch your attention or due to anxiety.

You can train your dog to avoid its poop by consistently leashing it for bathroom breaks and redirecting its attention. Also, practice regularly important commands with your dog such as “leave it”. Rewarding your dog with treats and praises for appropriate behavior is also a perfect way to help it outgrow its interest in poop.

3. Provide Enough Exercise and Nutrition

Don’t keep your dog in isolation or a confined space for a long time. Keeping it busy helps to ward off many behavioral problems, including eating poop. Also, ensure that your dog gets all the necessary nutrients from its food.

If your dog’s food lacks vitamins and other essential minerals, it will end up seeking them out in poop. Ask your veterinarian for advice on how to make your dog’s meals well-balanced to meet its nutritional needs.

4. Make Poop Unpleasant

If you’ve tried all these tricks and none has borne fruits, it’s time to try a coprophagia deterrent. These are dietary supplements designed to alter the taste of your dog’s feces. This alteration in taste discourages your dog’s non-discerning appetite.

In Summary

By understanding the question why do dogs eat poop, you will be able to discourage your dog from ingesting its own poop and that of other animals. With these tips, you should be able to keep your dog off poop within a short time. Thankfully, most of these tricks do not require you to spend an extra dime.

Gretchen Walker
Gretchen is a homemaker by day and writer by night. She takes a keen interest in life as it unfolds around her and spends her free time observing people go about their everyday affairs.