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Why Dogs Eat Poop and How to Address It

The strange phenomenon of dogs eating poop, also known as coprophagia, is a behavior that baffles and concerns many dog owners. This behavior can be both perplexing and disgusting. It also leads pet parents to question why their four-legged companions engage in such a peculiar habit. While it may be tempting to jump to conclusions or view it as a mere quirk, there are various reasons why dogs eat poop. The reasons why dogs eat poop include medical conditions, dietary imbalances, behavioral issues, and natural instincts.

Understanding the causes behind this behavior can help pet owners address the issue and ensure their furry friends maintain optimal health and well-being.

Why Dogs Eat Poop and How to Address It

Reasons Behind Dogs Eating Poop

There are several reasons that can contribute to the unusual behavior of dogs eating poop, also known as coprophagia.

Stress, anxiety, and boredom are often associated with this behavior. Dogs who experience stress or anxiety may turn to eating poop as a way to self-soothe or relieve their emotional discomfort.

Boredom can also drive dogs to engage in this behavior as a way to alleviate their mental and physical restlessness.

Isolation and confinement can also be triggers for coprophagia.

Dogs who are left alone for long periods of time or are confined to small spaces may resort to eating poop out of sheer boredom and frustration.

Harsh training methods and punishment can also play a role in the development of this behavior.

Dogs who have been subjected to negative training experiences may exhibit coprophagia as a result of fear or anxiety.

It is important to address and correct this behavior for the well-being of both the dog and their owner.

This can be achieved through behavioral modification techniques, providing mental and physical stimulation, and ensuring a well-balanced diet.

If the behavior persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, it is recommended to consult with an animal behaviorist or veterinarian for further evaluation and guidance.

Medical Condition

In some cases, dogs may engage in coprophagia due to underlying medical conditions.

Intestinal parasites, such as hookworms, roundworms, or tapeworms can cause dogs to have increased appetite.

This can lead them to seek out and eat feces. Thyroid disease can also affect a dog’s appetite and metabolism, resulting in coprophagia.

Gastrointestinal disorders or malabsorption issues can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

In turn, dogs may try to compensate by eating their own or other animals’ feces in an attempt to obtain the necessary nutrients.

If your dog has developed a sudden or persistent habit of eating poop, it is important to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any potential medical issues that may be contributing to this behavior.

Addressing and treating the underlying medical condition can help resolve the coprophagia problem in these cases.

Intestinal Parasites

Intestinal parasites can be a possible reason why dogs engage in the unpleasant behavior of eating poop, also known as coprophagia.

Dogs infected with intestinal parasites may experience inflammation in the digestive system, leading to malabsorption of nutrients from their food.

This malabsorption can leave them deficient in certain key nutrients. To compensate, they will seek alternative sources of nutrition, such as feces.

Common intestinal parasites that can contribute to coprophagia include roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms.

These parasites can cause gastrointestinal issues in dogs, including inflammation and malabsorption.

Testing a fecal sample at the veterinarian can confirm whether a dog has intestinal parasites such as worms or other parasites like giardia or coccidia.

If your dog has a history of coprophagia and you suspect intestinal parasites, it is essential to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Treating the underlying parasite infection can help alleviate the inflammation and improve the dog’s nutrient absorption.

This may also decrease their desire to eat feces.

Thyroid Disease

Thyroid disease can contribute to coprophagia in dogs.

An underactive thyroid, known as hypothyroidism, can cause a variety of symptoms, including weight gain, lethargy, and increased appetite.

This increased appetite can lead dogs to seek out alternative sources of food, such as feces if their regular diet is not filling them up.

If your dog has thyroid disease and exhibits coprophagia, it is important to address the underlying issue.

Consult with a veterinarian to properly diagnose and treat the thyroid problem.

Medication, such as thyroid hormone replacement therapy, can help regulate thyroid levels and reduce the dog’s cravings for non-nutritive items like feces.

It is also crucial to rule out other health issues that may contribute to coprophagia.

Some dogs may have digestive disorders, malabsorption issues, or nutrient deficiencies that drive them to eat feces.

If your puppy is not thriving or showing signs of illness, it is best to schedule a veterinary appointment for a comprehensive examination and appropriate testing.

Small white dog sniffing the ground

Behavioral Issues

While there are various reasons why dogs eat poop, some cases can be attributed to behavioral issues.

Eating feces may be a form of attention-seeking behavior or a result of boredom or anxiety.

Dogs may also develop a habit of consuming waste due to a lack of proper training or discipline.

In some cases, puppies may mimic this behavior from their mother or littermates.

It is essential to address these behavioral issues through behavior modification techniques and training.

Providing plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and attention can help redirect your dog’s focus away from eating poop and towards healthier behaviors.

Consulting with an animal behaviorist or professional trainer can offer valuable guidance in overcoming and managing these behavioral issues.

Remember, with proper intervention, dogs can break this unwanted behavior and lead a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Attention-Seeking Behavior

Attention-seeking behavior in dogs can manifest in various ways, including when it comes to eating poop.

Some dogs engage in this behavior as a means to seek attention or partake in a “game” with their owners.

They may eat poop in the hopes of getting a reaction or extra attention from their human companions.

For example, a dog might intentionally seek out fresh feces and eat it in front of their owner.

It is almost as if they are playing a game of “catch me if you can.” The canine may enjoy the chase and subsequent attention they receive from their owner.

This behavior can also be a result of boredom or a lack of regular attention.

Dogs are social animals and require mental and physical stimulation. When they do not receive enough attention or playtime, they may resort to engaging in unwanted behaviors like eating poop.

It is their way of expressing their boredom or frustration and seeking attention from their owners, even if it is negative attention.

To address attention-seeking behavior in relation to poop eating, it is essential to provide dogs with regular attention, play, and exercise.

Dog owners should engage in interactive play sessions, provide mental stimulation through puzzle toys, and ensure that their pets are receiving enough physical activity.

Additionally, maintaining a clean and accessible outdoor environment can help prevent dogs from developing this behavior.

Understanding and addressing attention-seeking behavior is key to curbing a dog’s poop-eating habit.

Regular attention and a well-balanced diet can help redirect their behavior towards healthy alternatives. this will create a more harmonious relationship between the dog and the owner.

Bad Habits and Greedy Eaters

Bad habits can contribute to dogs becoming greedy eaters, leading them to develop a tendency to eat poop.

One common bad habit is gulping down food.

Dogs that eat too quickly may not feel satisfied and may seek out other sources of food, including poop.

This behavior can stem from their natural instinct to consume as much food as possible, which may have been an ingrained survival tactic in their ancestors.

Another bad habit that contributes to greedy eating is stealing food from other pets or humans.

Dogs that are not properly trained or disciplined may see an opportunity to snatch food from others, including food left unattended or within reach.

This behavior reinforces their desire to eat more and can lead them to develop a mentality of constantly seeking out food, even if it means resorting to eating poop.

Scavenging for scraps is another bad habit that can contribute to dogs becoming greedy eaters.

Dogs that have developed a habit of searching for leftover food or scraps in the environment may resort to eating poop as a way to satiate their hunger.

This behavior can be exaggerated if the dog has had a prior history of food scarcity or if they have not been provided with a consistent and balanced diet.

By addressing and correcting these bad habits, dog owners can help prevent their pets from developing a tendency to eat poop.

This can include providing proper training, feeding dogs in controlled portions using puzzle toys to slow down eating, and ensuring that they are well-fed and satisfied with a balanced diet.

Access to Cat Poop

Access to cat poop is another possible reason why dogs may engage in this behavior.

Cats, like dogs, have their own litter boxes, which are often left accessible to them throughout the day.

This means that dogs can easily find and consume cat feces if they have access to areas where cats relieve themselves.

The smell and taste of cat poop may be intriguing to dogs.

It contains remnants of undigested food that can resemble the flavors of their own meals.

Additionally, cat poop is often softer and easier to consume compared to dry dog food.

This attraction to the smell and taste of cat feces can lead dogs to see it as a potential food source, especially if they are particularly hungry or have a scavenging instinct.

It is important to note that this behavior may not necessarily be a sign of a medical issue.

Dogs have a natural instinct to scavenge for food, and exploring and consuming feces can be considered typical dog behavior.

However, it is still essential to monitor your dog’s behavior.

You will need to ensure they have a well-balanced diet to minimize any potential nutritional deficiencies.

Common in Puppy Mill Dogs

In some cases, dogs eating poop can be a result of their past experiences in puppy mills.

Puppy mills are commercial dog breeding facilities where dogs are often kept in inhumane conditions.

Dogs in these environments may have limited access to proper nutrition.

They may even be forced to live in unsanitary conditions. As a result, they may develop a habit of eating their own feces or the feces of other dogs just to survive.

They do this as a way to obtain extra nutrients or to cope with their environment.

This behavior can persist even after they leave the puppy mill.

If this is the cause, they may require appropriate training and behavior modification to overcome.

Addressing Poop-Eating in Dogs

A balanced diet plays a crucial role in addressing poop-eating behavior in dogs.

Providing a well-balanced diet can help prevent nutrient deficiencies and minimize the dog’s desire to eat feces.

When a dog’s nutritional needs are met through their regular diet, they are less likely to seek out feces for additional nutrients.

Furthermore, using tasty treats during training sessions can be a helpful tool in redirecting the dog’s focus and reinforcing positive behaviors.

High-value treats can be highly motivating for dogs and can serve as a rewarding alternative to consuming feces.

By rewarding the dog with tasty treats for desired behaviors, such as following commands or using the bathroom appropriately, their attention can be redirected away from poop-eating and towards more desirable actions.

It is important to choose treats that are not only palatable to the dog but also nutritionally beneficial.

This ensures that the dog is receiving the necessary nutrients to maintain a healthy and well-rounded diet. Homemade treats or treats made with real food ingredients can be a great option.

It is also necessary to clean and remove any poop from the environment as soon as possible. This will limit your dog’s access.

Do Food Additives Work to Stop Poop Eating

Food additives can be used to discourage dogs from eating their own poop or the feces of other animals.

These products are designed to alter the taste and smell of feces, making it less appealing to the dog.

Some food additives also contain ingredients that help boost the dog’s nutrient levels so they are less likely to seek out other sources of nutrition, such as stool.

It is important to note that food additives should be used in moderation and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Additionally, it is important to consult with a veterinarian before using any type of additive.

They can help ensure that the product is safe and appropriate for your dog’s specific needs.

In Conclusion

While the act of dogs eating poop may seem gross and puzzling, there are several reasons behind this behavior.

From seeking attention to nutritional deficiencies, understanding the why behind this habit can help you address it effectively.

Remember, a little patience and guidance can go a long way in ensuring your furry friend’s well-being.

So, next time you catch your dog in the act, don’t panic!

Instead, use this knowledge to keep your pup healthy and happy.

Anne Perry

Wednesday 25th of October 2023

Great info. Currently none of the dogs are doing this.

Debbie P

Tuesday 24th of October 2023

This is a great and yes gross, but very interesting. Thanks.


Monday 23rd of October 2023

Thanks for the info on kind of a funny topic.


Sunday 22nd of October 2023

Icky but informative!


Saturday 21st of October 2023

So gross - had a dog that would sneak into the cat litter boxes

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