Why do Dogs eat Poo?

Rhiannon Rowlands 25 February 2022

At least one in four dogs have been seen to eat poo at some point in their lives. About one third of these dogs will do it frequently. So, while not every dog exhibits this behaviour, it is far from unusual.

 

The technical term for the consumption of poo is ‘coprophagia’. Some pets will eat their own poo, while others eat the poo of other animals.

 

Why does my dog eat poo?

 

  • A normal part of life. In nature, the mother dog will eat her puppies’ poo for the first few weeks of life. Many pups will then copy this behaviour.

 

  • Keeping clean. Some dogs dislike being near poo so will eat it if they are confined with it, for example, in a crate or small yard.

 

  • An under-stimulated dog may look for distraction from any source. If they have nothing else to do, even something as repulsive as poo eating may be something they try out. Over time, this can become habit.

 

  • If a dog is fearful that they will get into trouble, they will quickly eat up any poo that they pass. This is often linked to the use of harsh training methods during house training, if the dog was punished for passing poo inside.

 

  • A side effect of medication. Some medicines (such as steroids) can make a dog ravenous, meaning even an unappealing pile of poo suddenly becomes tempting.

 

What about health disorders?

 

If your pooch is chowing down on stool, you may worry they have a medical issue. There are certain diseases that can be linked with coprophagia, so it is sensible to have a chat with your vet if concerned. We would consider:

 

  • Malnutrition caused by improper diet or a malabsorption disorder (such as IBD)
  • Internal parasites
  • Diabetes or Cushing’s Disease; two disorders which cause a huge surge in appetite.

 

Do I always need to consult with my vet about my dog’s poo eating?

 

It is sensible to see the vet if your dog has recently started to eat poo and has not done it before. Similarly, if they have begun to do it a lot more than before, there may be a medical reason for this.

 

If your dog is showing any other signs, such as excessive thirst, diarrhoea or weight loss, we should have them seen promptly.

 

Is eating poo bad for my dog?

 

For the most part, your dog won’t become unwell from this behaviour.

 

Dogs are generally sensible enough to avoid any poo that is sloppy or bloody; a sign that the dog who passed it may have an infectious disease.

 

As parasites can be passed on from eating poo, it is crucial that all ‘poo eaters’ are kept up to date with a good quality wormer.

 

How can I clean my dog’s mouth?

 

If you’ve seen your dog eating poo, you will likely want to clean their mouth, to ensure they don’t get you or your home dirty. This is especially important if they have contact with young children.

 

A damp cloth can be used to clean your dog’s lips and face. We can then brush their teeth using a doggy tooth paste. After this, give them some water to drink.

 

What can I do to stop Coprophagia?

 

When possible, try to identify the cause of your dog’s behaviour. For example, if they are left in a crate for several hours each day, it may be that they need to be let out more often. Similarly, if they seem under-stimulated, we should spend more time providing them with things to do, keeping them busy and content.

 

Any poo passed should be cleaned up right away. Only about 1 in 10 poo eaters will eat old poo that has been left out; most show a preference for freshly passed poo. So, owners need to be on the ball!

 

Ensure your dog is eating a balanced and nutritious diet; ideally one that is packed with fresh ingredients and doesn’t contain fillers or any ‘nasties’. This will help ensure they are getting all of the micronutrients they need and supports their gut health.

 

Some owners turn to ‘aversion products’ that make the dog’s stool taste foul. This can work well for those pooches who only eat their own poop.

6 comments

What about poop from other animals, in particular cats and cows? Our dog sees them as a special treat and also loves to roll in cow poop!! Thank you.

Sam and Merlin @ 2022-04-22 14:37:48 +0100

I use to have a dog who ate cows poor..my dog who is a senior she wont stop eating she will only stop when her belly is massive and then have a 3 day direa can not give her meat as it puts her weight on and gets direa she tends to still hunt for foods she use to be on steroids for 3 yrs as she do have skin allergies it some foods what she is eating. Ppl thinks she is still pregnant the bets says she just over weight

Angie Richards @ 2022-04-22 14:37:48 +0100

My Lab and my friend’s Flattie are both poo eaters, but they tend to go for goose, sheep, horse and cattle droppings(we both live in the country). Tiresome!

Judith @ 2022-04-22 14:37:48 +0100

Is your wet meat okay to give my yorkie with kidney disease

Pauletta @ 2022-04-22 14:37:48 +0100

Hi @Kathy, our soft and shiny food is indeed hypoallergenic but isn’t hydrolysed. hope that helps!

Team Pooch @ 2022-03-14 14:35:31 +0000
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