Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

While walking a client’s new 4-month-old Golden Retriever puppy and watching in horror as she started to eat her own poop, I wondered why on earth would they do that?  It’s bad enough when they eat cat poop but their own?  Of course, one’s immediate thought after witnessing this vomit-inducing scene is, I just let you lick my face!

Poop Eating: Behavioral or Medical?

The medical term for eating poop is coprophagy. It’s a combination of behavioral and physiological reasons. First, let’s look at the physiological reasons.

Digestion is never complete so they will eat their feces as a nutritional snack. It sounds gross but it is true. Dogs are often attracted to undigested corn, peanuts, or rice. Ugh! As a word of caution, you really should never feed your dog peanuts or corn so they should never be attracted to those two things if you feed them properly.

What about the behavioral reasons your dog might be eating their poop.  Puppies that are going through house training can become confused. If you are training with pads, they are not sure if they are supposed to go to the bathroom outside or inside. Plus, the world is new to them, so they don’t know right from wrong yet.  You need to be the alpha dog by firmly letting your puppy know it is wrong to eat their feces.
Another reason your dog might eat their poop is because they are bored.  Some dogs go around the yard and will pick things up and put them down or they will chew them and sometimes that is poop. The health ramifications of digesting feces are extensive, and more details can be found on our Poop Scooping page.  This is yet another reason you should pick up your dog’s poop in your yard every day if possible.

How to Stop Your Dog’s Poop Eating

The first thing you should do is talk to your vet. Your dog may have a vitamin or mineral condition that can be taken care of through medicine.

Some people add a little pineapple, pumpkin, or spinach to their dog’s meal, as they taste horrible in poop.  You can also try putting a repellant substance like hot pepper or Tabasco sauce directly onto the feces to make it unpleasant to eat, but that takes a lot more time and effort that one is usually willing to give on matters of poop.

Still others help their dogs by maximizing digestion. To do so, add enzyme supplements to their food, such as meat tenderizer (from the supermarket), papaya extract (available at health food stores) or products from pet supply stores especially designed to help dogs digest food easily. This should eliminate the presence of anything they view as “good” in their stool.

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