Why Does Your Dog Eat Poop? (And How to Stop It)

Dogs are known for their voracious appetites.

But most people can agree they don’t exactly have the finest palettes. Take, for instance, their love of poop. In the doggie world fecal matter is often considered a delicacy that makes humans want to vomit. So why, exactly, does your dog love the taste of dung? And what do you do to make him stop eating it?

It’s Totally Normal

While eating poop might seem repulsive to the average person, it’s actually quite common in the animal kingdom. Rabbits, in particular, are known to gorge on the stuff. In the wild, animals will go to whatever lengths necessary to get the nutrients they need to survive, even if that means dining on someone else’s recycled goods. For domesticated animals like dogs, they usually have all the nutritional supplements they need at home.

It’s when they’re puppies that they’re most likely to eat poop. Mothers will often clean their litter’s feces by eating it during the first few weeks of life since they can’t move far enough away to eliminate in a separate area. This can cause the puppies to adopt the behavior.

The Causes

There are a variety of other things that could lead to eating poop aside from picking up habits from their mother. Some causes might be medical, such as:

  • parasites
  • lack of nutrients in dog food
  • malabsorption syndromes
  • underlying conditions, including diabetes and thyroid disease
  • medications like steroids

If your vet is able to rule out medical reasons as to why your dog considers feces as his favorite afternoon snack, then the underlying cause might simply be behavioral. Some dogs will start eating poop as a way to stave off boredom from lack of stimulation and exercise. Others do so because of anxiety or depression, much in the way humans turn to junk food as a means to combat the blues. Of course there’s always the possibility your dog is eating poop because he knows it’ll bring him attention. If you chase down your pup each time you scoops up a nugget from the litter box or backyard, there’s a good chance he sees it as playing.

How do you make it stop?

There are plenty of tricks to help keep your dog from eating poop, all with varying degrees of efficacy. The simplest method is to remove the temptation. If you have a cat in the home place her litter box someplace your dog cannot reach it, like a counter or room he doesn’t have access to in the home. If your dog is picking up poop from the backyard you’ll need to start cleaning it on a regular basis. You might consider carrying baggies with you when you head out and pick it up as it hits the ground.

When on walks you’ll need to be extra cautious about steering your pup away from poop. Walk him on sidewalks and keep a watchful eye out for brown mounds on the ground.

There are also sprays that claim to make poop unappealing to your pooch. They theory is that you make the smell unpleasant to your pup so he won’t want to touch it. You may have heard of putting Tabasco on tempting poop—but that’s not medically recommended.

Finally, with your vet’s consent, you might want to consider adding vitamin/enzyme supplements to his diet. If he’s eating poop due to a deficiency, this might be the fastest and most effective way to reign in this nasty habit.

Meet the Author: Ben Kerns

Ben Kerns is a freelance writer, photographer and outdoor adventurer based out of San Diego. When he’s not busy working you can find him hopping across the world looking for new places to climb big rocks. He’s also fanatically obsessed with funding his outdoor obsessions for as little money as possible. This stuff gets expensive.

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