Why Does My Dog Eat Poop?

Does Your Dog Eat Poop?   Is this a problem?

Dog eating poopOkay, I’ll admit it, asking “Does your dog eat poop?” is a tacky subject.   However, just because it is a little gross, that doesn’t mean we should ignore it.  It is a common issue and one of the top questions that vets hear from their clients (the human ones 🙂 ).


Why Does a Dog Eat Poop?

One of the prevalent theories is that dogs descended from wolves and wolves are hunters and scavengers.  Any source of protein is a good source when you are dependent upon what you can find or catch to survive.   While it seems a little gross, feces are a source of protein and minerals.  Just be clear, many fur-baby owners run into coprophagia (the medical term for “eating feces”) with their dogs.  It is especially common among puppies, but seeing your dog eat poop can occur at any time in a dog’s life.  (via Patch)

Does That Mean My Dog Isn’t Getting Enough Protein and Minerals?

This is a common and logical follow-on question and the answer is usually NO.  You dog is probably getting plenty of proteins and minerals if you are feeding them quality food.   It is just part of nature that something that has been a quality source of sustenance for millenniums is still seen as a quality source at some instinctual level.

What Should I Do When I See My Dog Eat Poop?

That is certainly one of the next logical and common follow-on questions.   There are two parts to this question:  a) eating poop that they find and b) eating their own poop.

Eating poop that they find while walking in the woods can be a hard behavior to extinguish.  Your fur-baby will have a hard time understanding why you are forbidding this behavior.

Even if you can’t stop it, there is a concern.   Your fur-baby can pick up diseases or parasites from things that they eat in the wilds.  Vomiting and diarrhea are common symptoms.  Parasites can be harder to detect early on. This means that you should have your four-legged child checked at least once a year, especially if you regularly let them run in the woods.

Your dog eating their own poop  is another issue entirely.  There is a remedy known as For-Bid. This is a food additive that will make the poop unappealing to your dog. This remedy can be used as part of an overall training program to try to deter the behavior.

Remember We Are Different

Human’s don’t usually enjoy the smell of rotting meat or feces.  That same smell can be very enticing to our four-legged family members.  (On the other hand, most of them don’t enjoy sweets.  To each his own. 🙂 )

Here is a list of possible reasons that have been put forth for why you will see a dog eat poop.

  • They like the taste, especially when there is undigested food present.. Dogs seem to especially enjoy the taste of cat feces.  It appears to be because of the flavor of high-protein cat food.
  • They are bored
  • They are stressed and experiencing anxiety.
  • Dog’s don’t tend to poop in “their place.”  If there is poop around the yard and the yard is “their place,” they may be trying to clean it up.
  • They are trying to get attention.
  • They are attempting to “hide” the evidence that they pooped in the “wrong place”.
  • They have learned the behavior from other dogs.

A lot of these reasons are similar to the reasons that dogs scratch obsessively.

In Conclusion:

Don’t think it is weird or a sign of some rare disease if you see your dog eat poop.  It is natural behavior.  The biggest concern is diseases and parasites that your fur-baby can be exposed to.

Note:   This article is one of a multi-part series on questions that are commonly asked at the vet’s office.

  1.  Why does my dog compulsively scratch?
  2. Why does my dog scoot across the floor on his or her rear?
  3. Why does my dog eat poop?

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