Category: 

Why Do Dogs Eat Their Own Poop?

It is not known why dogs eat their own feces.
Most dog food contains meat, so the end waste products might be appetizing to a dog.
Mother dogs clean their environments by eating their young puppies' poop.
Article Details
  • Written By: Karyn Maier
  • Edited By: Jay Garcia
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
The CDC reported that eight foods, including peanuts and milk, account for 90% of food allergies.  more...

October 25 ,  1971 :  The United Nations expelled Taiwan and admitted China.  more...

Exasperated dog owners often ask this question. Multiple dog owners are just as perplexed as to why one or two of their dogs eat their own poop regularly while the other dogs in the pack never do. Unfortunately, the typical answers usually bring little satisfaction, much less help in getting their dogs to stop eating feces. The truth is, no one knows for certain why dogs eat poop. Many experts have different theories about what makes eating feces so enticing to some animals, however.

First, when dogs eat their own poop, they are said to be practicing a behavior known in veterinary medicine as coprophagia. It should also be noted that this behavior isn’t limited to the dog's own feces. Dogs will sometimes dine on the poop of other dogs, cats, horses, or other animals. In addition, some dogs enjoy "poopsicles" exclusively and prefer to just eat poop during the winter months.

Secondly, while the act of eating feces may seem revolting to humans, dogs simply consider it fair game. After all, dogs are pack animals, which means they are scavengers. From their point of view, anything that smells remotely edible left lying on the ground is permissible. Since most dogs are fed meat-based food, whether wet or dry, it’s reasonable to assume that the end waste product contains undigested portions with similar characteristics. This is one popular theory as to why some dogs eat poop.

Ad

Another theory offered to explain why dogs eat their own poop is poor nutritional status, or a deficiency in pancreatic enzymes. This theory also holds that dogs instinctively attempt to correct such imbalances by eating feces. To counter this activity, some veterinarians recommend adding an enzyme supplement such as papaya extract to the dog’s food, or even something as simple as powdered meat tenderizer. This approach has the added benefit of aiding digestion to make eating poop less attractive to the dog in the first place.

Puppy-hood presents a different psychology when it comes to eating feces, though. First, it is normal for the mother to eat the feces of her young pups since this is how she cleans the den. Secondly, she must teach her pups to defecate by stimulating them through licking, and no doubt partakes in a puppy poop snack now and then. In addition, puppies can easily become confused or frustrated during housebreaking and may eat their own poop to avoid the detection of accidents.

Several cures are offered to discourage dogs from eating poop. These usually involve some sort of post-poop deterrent, such as seasoning freshly made feces with hot sauce, powdered cayenne pepper, or a splash of vinegar. Of course, prevention is worth a pound of cure, and to that end, every effort to keep the yard free of poop should be made, in addition to keeping dogs away from cat litter boxes. If poop eating persists, or results in a parasitic infestation, a consultation with a veterinarian is a good idea.

Ad

More from Wisegeek

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

anon346463
Post 23

My puppy of 10 weeks is doing it too. I let him know all the time its "potty time". I pick him up and put him where I want him (puppy pad) and he is doing good there but he will eat his own feces if I don't stop him. It's horrible and now I am getting a dental bone. His breath is awful. Yuck!

anon336140
Post 22

I cover my puppy feces with flour when it's in the yard, then shovel it up and move it to a brush pile, cover it with dirt, sand, grass, yard weed waste and keep his poop spots marked with baking flour. That way, while walking him at night, I can see the spots. However, he still tries to eat other animal feces. I pull him away from it when I realize what he's doing and remove him from the area. I think this is a behavior he developed at a local Humane Society where I got him when he was 12 weeks old.

He's now 25 weeks and eats anything: sticks, rocks, flowers, others' poop. I started him on a multi vitamin already and he eats well. I'm worried he will get something lodge in his throat.

He came with a parasite and was treated with me. I'm ready to return/surrender him for fear of whats to come; he's a Pit/Shepherd mix. I read the description of "The 5 primary reason dogs eat Poop" so I think it's something he will do forever.

anon262987
Post 19

My dog eats her own poop and I hate it! I spank her but she still eats it!

anon166907
Post 18

Ok, to those who say don't keep them in a cage all day is not a factor. I am dog sitting for a friend, and I walk the dog daily, plenty of one on one time. This dog will still eat her waste. The cage idea is good and no one should think this is what causes this.

anon145724
Post 17

We have just recently gotten this year and a half old dog. She must have been confined most of the time. Does not want to poo outside however she does do it on a pad and then turns around and eats it.

I try to watch very carefully so that I can clean it up asap. disgusting. We have had many dogs in the past and never this kind of behavior. At night I do put her in her kennel and anywhere from 1:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. in the morning she starts to howl so I do take her to the pad, where she poops and I pick it up and back to her kennel for the rest of the night.

The people who had her said she eats at such and such a time goes poo 1/2 hour after that and pees two hours after that. Well this has proven not to be true. I am very frustrated over this situation. Will try the pineapple or pumpkin and see if that helps. Thanks for that info.

anon145272
Post 16

My daughter's dog eats his poo too. A friend of mine at work suggesting giving the dog pineapple. Supposedly, dogs don't like to re-eat pineapple. Hey, it's worth a shot. I'm going to suggest the cayenne pepper or vinegar method too.

anon138610
Post 14

absolutely disgusting. I have a hard time with this since we just got a puppy and I've caught her doing this once. How can something so cute perform an act so vile?

anon135196
Post 13

@anon93851: Don't leave the dog in a pen all day. No wonder she's eating her poo -- she has to live in her own filth in a tiny cage? Wouldn't you try to keep your tiny space clean? hire a dog walker and get that dog out and about!

anon131363
Post 12

I believe poo eating is a pack thing. I f you have more than one dog, you have a pack, and one or more dogs may eat their poo. In the wild pack animals must cover their trail to survive. I have three dogs and the youngest will eat poo outside. As she is so young she still has little accidents in the house, but never feels she wants to eat it. I know it's gross, but by thinking this way helps me cope with it.

arielpaige1
Post 11

I have heard this from people who know a lot about dogs, and they say the reason "rover" eats his stool or the cat's is because he didn't get all the nutrition he needed when he was taking mommy's milk. i also think it is a phase because my puppy used to do that. she is now a year old and doesn't do that anymore. thank you.

anon93851
Post 9

My pup is now four months old and I'm pretty sure that she eats her own poop now and again.

She is in her pen all day long inside the house, with food and water and newspaper for pooping and weeing on.

How do I prevent her from eating her own poop during the day, when I'm at work all day long?

Very frustrated.

anon89917
Post 8

my dog loves being sneaky and going into the cat box and dragging out my cat's poop and eating it! So disgusting, and also when he has an accident and i go clean it, he gets mad and barks at me!

anon77323
Post 6

my dog ate poo and its breath stank and then I taught him to not do it and if he doesn't do it i give him a bone and he will not eat poo.

anon69192
Post 5

poo is gross but dogs seem to like it. I find that creepy because my turtle eats its own poop. same with my friend's turtle. we feed our turtles different food but they still eat it!

KrymsonKyng
Post 4

Whenever we don't feed our cat for a while, she overeats when we finally *do* feed her, and usually... disposes of the extra. My dog then eats it. Every time. After reading this article, though, I can see why my dog eats it.

mkirkpatrick
Post 3

In regards to Keti's response: *Ewe...yuk!* I have eight Siberian Huskies and they absolutely *love* to eat cat poop. I find them feasting on it when they think I'm not looking. It's quite gross especially because cat poop smells so darn *bad*!

keti
Post 1

I've seen wild dogs eat Holy Mother Cow Dung & once a dog I was very friendly with ate even mine too even though I knew she was not hungry and she went out of her way to make sure I would see her eating it!

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email