Why Dogs Eat Poop & How to Stop Them From Doing it

When Cali was a puppy, she had one of the grossest behaviors that a dog can have: eating poop. Not only was it disgusting, but also unsanitary. Imagine having a cute little puppy running up to you for kisses with poop breath. So why do dogs eat poop anyway?

If you happen to be eating right now, you might want to put down your lunch because I’ll be going into detail. 

dogs eat poop why do they do it

Why Dogs Eat Poop

As it turns out, poop eating (also known as coprophagia) for dogs is actually a more common problem than I originally thought.

23% of dogs will eat poop at least once in their life.

In fact, this odd behavior is widely popular throughout the mammal kingdom and is especially popular in animals such as rodents, rabbits, beavers, and even elephants!

So if the entire animal kingdom is eating feces, what is the reason behind it? There are two main reasons:

Reason 1: Gene Abnormality

Don’t freak out by the term gene abnormality. Many animals and humans have all different types of abnormalities and go on to lead long healthy lives.

When dogs eat poop, they can be exhibiting a compulsive behavior or dietary deficiency.

This means that your dog is trying to get the missing nutrients they need from the feces they find.

Since Cali was the runt of the litter, this makes sense because she didn’t get as much nutrients from her mother as her siblings.

Dogs with coprophagia in this way tend to eat differently than other dogs, be more difficult to housetrain, and exhibit compulsive behaviors like feet biting and tail chasing (something Cali does all day long).

Fortunately, adding a supplement or a change of diet is usually the solution for dogs like this.

dogs eat poop because of their ancestors wolves

Reason 2: Ancestral DNA

The 2nd reason why your dog is eating poop is because their wolf DNA is kicking in.

Scientists have studied wolves and found that healthy wolves will eat the fresh feces of sickly wolves left near the pack’s den to prevent potential parasite infestation.

Parasites are most active in feces in the first two days after defecation, explaining why wolves would only eat “fresh” feces.

So if your dog likes to dive into a steamy pile of poop while going for a walk, chances are they’re just practicing the behavior that their wolf ancestors have!

In addition, dogs like this also tend to be “greedy eaters” and also eat dirt, woodchips, and cat feces.

Unfortunately, if this is the reason your dog is eating poop, chances are that commercial products or a change of diet won’t change the behavior.

Your dog thinks it’s delicious and the best thing you can do is to pick up after them and prevent exposing them to other feces. 

How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Poop

If your dog is eating poop regularly, my first advice would be to look at their diet.

Research what food you are giving your dog and see if there are better options out there. Give your dog about 2 weeks on their new food to let their stomach adjust.

In addition, adding a probiotic and other helpful supplements to your dogs diet may curb this disgusting behavior. 

If you’ve changed your dog’s diet and they’re still eating poop, then it’s time to perfect the “leave it” command!

Along with preventative measures like keeping your yard poop-free and cleaning the cat litter box, knowing the “leave it” command will help work your dog’s brain as well as potentially save their life from eating feces from a sick animal. 

dogs eat poop ways to stop it

Conclusion

Poop eating (coprophagia) is a common problem for dogs of any age. The two main reasons being a dietary deficiency or ancestral practice.

With a change of diet and dedicated training, you can prevent your dog from eating feces and go back to receiving loving, non-poopy puppy kisses. 

Click here for more great articles on dog behavior, training, and all things dog!

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