Ask Seth: Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

Ask Seth

Why do dogs eat poop and how do you make them stop? 

This is a common question, and the eating of feces is called coprophagia, which is common for puppies up to 1.5 years old but can occur at any age in dogs.  This should be taken seriously since internal parasites are easily transferred through coprophagia.  They can be medically or behaviorally based and common behavioral adjustments are used to correct the problem.  Listed are a few of the causes of coprophagia:

  1. Anxiety/boredom or simply it tastes good to them (gross, I know)
  2. Could be a sign of vitamin or mineral deficiency
  3. If a puppy is scolded for pooping in the house, they may eat it to hide the evidence. Also, they may do this to clean up their living area.
  4. You may not be feeding the dog often enough (he/she becomes very hungry)
  5. You may be over-feeding the dog, resulting in improper digestion of the food so it still smells like dinner when it comes out.

Ways to stop coprophagia

  1. Feed your dog well-balanced meals. Possibly split it up into 2 feedings rather than once daily
  2. Keep the dogs' area clean of feces. Provide plenty of chew toys to keep them busy
  3. Stimulate your dog with appropriate exercise, both mentally and physically
  4. Teach your dog “LEAVE IT." This command is extremely effective and corrects the issue as it happens. You reward the animal when he/she leaves the poop alone.
  5. There are medications on the market that work well on stopping the behavior by making the feces tastes nasty. They are called “Forbid” and “Deter."

If these corrections still do not work, contact your veterinarian.  This may be a vitamin or mineral deficiency that your vet can determine a treatment plan for.

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