Why do dogs eat their own poop?

There are many theories as to why dogs eat their poop, and no one precisely knows why they do it, but these theories below are the most common explanations. If your dog eats their poop try going through the list below one at a time.
dog poo and a question mark
Why do dogs eat their own poop?

One day I was watching my dog playing in the garden from my kitchen window, jumping about and rolling around in the grass, the usual doggy playtime stuff. Then she stopped to have a poop then all of a sudden she turned around, and it vanished in seconds, she had eaten her own poop. I was utterly disgusted, and I couldn’t believe what I saw. My dog that I kiss all the time and let her lick my face just ate her own poop!. Then she just carried on about her business, playing in the garden. It was like second nature to her. I am not sure how many times she has previously eaten her own poop. Whether it was a new thing or not. It’s a bizarre thing to see for us humans, but dogs, however, there are many reasons why they eat their own poop. “Let’s go through a few.”

Dog coprophagia (faeces eating)

There are many theories as to why dogs eat their poop, and no one precisely knows why they do it, but these theories below are the most common explanations. If your dog eats their poop try going through the list below one at a time.

They lack in nutrition.

A Pug eating his dinner
Pug enjoying his dinner time

When dogs lack in vitamins of some kind, they feel the need to eat their poop, random I know, but many experts believe this to be one of the reasons why.

How to stop it

If you think your dog is eating his or her poop because they lack in nutrition, think about the food your giving them and is it of any decent quality, there are many foods for the dogs on the market at present, and they are even dog breed-specific ranges. 

It’s a bad habit

dog holding a sign saying I have a bad habit on the grass
Pug life “Bad habits.”

Your dog could have picked up a poop-eating habit from when they were a puppy, perhaps from their mothers.

How to stop it

Your dog eating his or her poop could be a bad habit inherited from their mother; they saw her doing this when they were young and have continued to adopt this in their adult life. The way to avoid this is when they go for poop don’t hesitate and pick it up straight away, don’t leave it for them to go back to later to gobble it up. Show your presence when they are having a poop but don’t impose on them, still let them do their business in peace, and if they look like they are about to eat it, tell them a firm “leave it”. Then pick it up straight away and put it the bin. 

The phrase “leave it” fulls under obedience training. If your dog hasn’t been trained for this command yet, you should think to start it with them. This will help no end, especially if your dog is a poop gobbler whilst out walking.

Your dog might not be getting enough food.

dog begging for food at the table
More food?

A dog might be hungry and eating their own poop due to hunger. 

How to stop it

Provide your dog with three meals a day, you should have a good quality brand of dog food, and usually on the back of the package is a weight guide and how much you should be feeding them. If you already do this, I would suggest trying four meals a day but with the same daily portion size, just spread out over four meals.

Your dog is bored

Bored dog laying down
Bored dog

Yes, boredom can drive your dog to do silly things, and eating poop is a possibility from it.

How to stop it

Physical and mental stimulation is critical for keeping boredom at bay in dogs. Make sure you walk your dog twice a day; this allows them to see new sights, sounds and smells. Make time for playing together and provide them with toys that stimulate their brains.

If all else fails

Make their poop taste terrible, although you would think their poop tastes awful anyway it is slightly different for dogs. You can apply deterrents on the poop, like red pepper flakes, tabasco sauce or bitter apple. You can also get poo deterrent chews, tablets and in a liquid form that you can apply to their food before they eat it. However, before you do any of the above, you must consult your vet. It’s imperative to do so. When you have the go-ahead from your vet, and any underlying medical reasons have been ruled out. It will cause your dog to develop a repulsion towards their poop and in time putting them off eating it altogether. I would use this as your last resort and try the above first.

When is it normal for a dog to eat poop

Mother adult dog with puppy
Mother adult dog with her puppy

It is never normal for adult dogs to eat their poop; this is classed as abnormal behaviour. However, it’s normal for Mothers to eat their pup’s poop; this is so she can keep her nest area clean and avoid any attraction from preditors. Also, mother dogs lick their babies rear ends to stimulate them to poop when they are young and will clean up the mess by eating it.

Conclusion

I hope this can help you and your dog, and don’t forget if you have tried the above techniques and your dog is still eating his or her poop, your dog could be suffering from an underlying medical condition. Please contact your veterinary expert for advice. Good luck!

About the Author

Teresa loves animals and travelling around the UK! She currently has two dogs and two cats. She loves caring for and sharing her knowledge of pets. Qualified Dog Groomer and currently studying Canine Behaviour. She has been part of the Dog Friendly Team since 2016

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