Have you ever wondered what the heck dogs are thinking when they eat their own or another dog’s feces? Why do dogs eat poop? How can you get it to stop?!?! Here’s our guide to why your dog might be eating poop and how you can prevent this undesirable behavior.
What Is Coprophagia?
Coprophagia is the act of eating poop. Many dogs and puppies do it for a variety of reasons, whether they be medical or behavioral. Coprophagia is fairly common in dogs, particularly in puppies. There are several ways to help combat this behavior.
Why Do Dogs Eat Their Poop?
If you’re wondering why do dogs eat poop, you need to know that there are many reasons why your dog is carrying out this gross behavior. In fact, coprophagia is pretty normal in puppies. What’s important is that you find out the reason for your dog’s behavior and treat it quickly. The faster you work to correct the problem, the less likely your dog will repeat it.
Many puppies start eating poop while they are still in the litter since it’s an evolutionary behavior learned from their mothers. Mother dogs frequently eat their puppies’ poop to keep their “den” spotless. It also protects puppies from predators that might be attracted to the smell of the poop. Since puppies don’t know any better, they imitate their mother’s behavior. Puppies who eat poop are simply following their mom’s lead!
Usually mothers continue eating their puppies’ poop until the babies are weaned and have started eating solid food. They usually also are leaving the den around that time to defecate. While mothers may stop eating poop around that time, puppies might continue to do so since it’s a learned behavior. It might also just be the result of puppy curiosity that leads them to eat poop.
The easiest way to discourage coprophagia in puppies is to not react. If you respond with alarm, you might actually just reinforce the behavior. Instead, always immediately clean up after your puppy as soon as they poop so they don’t have a chance to eat it.
Other reasons for your dog eating poop include:
- Bad digestion
- Intestinal parasites
- Craving attention from you
- Wanting to avoid getting caught having an accident
- They simply enjoy doing it
How to Get Your Dog to Stop Eating Poop
There are several ways you can get your dog to stop eating poop including:
- Make sure you are feeding your dog a nutritious diet. If you see signs of poor digestion, such as a low weight, lack of growth (in puppies), vomiting, lethargy, discomfort, watery poop or poop with large pieces of undigested food, contact your veterinarian.
- Give your dog plenty of exercise with walks and playtime.
- Always clean up after your dog as soon as they go to the bathroom. Keep them on a leash outside and do not allow them to inspect the poop. Call them to you after they eliminate and when they go to you instead of inspecting or eating the poop, reward your dog with a treat.
- Try adding a stool eating deterrent to your dog’s food.
- Always keep your dog on a leash when going for walks. Gently pull your pup away from other dogs’ poop. As soon as your pooch walks away from the poop, praise your dog and reward them with a treat for the good behavior.
Slowly but surely your pup will learn good behavior and stop eating poop. Again, if your dog won’t stop eating poop or shows signs of poor digestion or other health problems, call your veterinarian immediately. In these cases, eating poop might be a sign of parasites or disease.