Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

Dogs can be adorable - but they’re not always the most hygiene-conscious of creatures. When they’re not scooting on the carpet, drinking from the toilet or getting a jump-scare from their own smelly “emissions” - they’re rolling in something unspeakable.

The unspeakable thing in question tends to be poo - and dogs don’t just roll in it: many enjoy eating it - and they’re not fussy about its origins: fox droppings, cat poo, horse manure, cow pats and even the faeces of other dogs are all fair game.

Why Do They Do It?

Despairing dog owners might wonder: why do dogs eat poop? Some assume it is a nutritional deficiency or illness - however, this is relatively rare. Eating poop (or coprophagia), tends to result from the following:

● Curiosity: Dogs have a keen sense of smell - and for them, poop may contain a lot of information about who left it and what they ate.

● Nutrition: Some research suggests that dogs with a severe lack in Vitamin B may seek out poop as a source of thiamin, which is made in the intestines of mammals.

● They just like it: Unpleasant, but true: Dogs are also notorious for eating things they shouldn’t, purely for the fact they enjoy it - and poop is no exception.


Female dogs are known to eat their puppies’ poop or lick them clean in order to keep the “den” and their young safe from potential predators. This is considered healthy behaviour (as puppies won’t carry any parasites or germs the mother doesn’t already have).

Impressionable pups tend to mirror their mother’s behaviour and may attempt to eat each other’s poop. Typically this stops as they grow up - but if not, it can become a habit they take out of the den into their later years.

Is It Bad For Them?

While it is common for dogs to eat poop (around 25% exhibit coprophagia), there is a risk of bacteria, viruses and parasites (or their eggs) being transmitted to your dog. Always stay up to date on your dog’s worming medication and ask your vet for updates if needed.

Additionally, some medications (such as worming medications for horses) that pass through animals can be toxic to dogs. If you suspect your dog has ingested something harmful, seek immediate medical attention.

Behavioural Reasons

If they are left at home for extended periods, why do dogs eat poop? They could be bored and under-stimulated - or it could be separation anxiety or stress. Attention seeking can also be a potential cause.

If dogs feel lonely or bored because they aren’t getting adequate attention from their owners, they may “act out” - because to them, a negative reaction seems better than no reaction at all - but this can make matters worse.

Coporaphagia: Dos and Don’ts

Don’t: Punish Or Shout

While they may not fully understand you - dogs can pick up on your emotions - even an angry tone could create anxiety and potentially damage your bond with them. Positive reinforcement is a better (and more effective) strategy.


A negative response may even lead to your dog attempting to eat the poop faster before you get to them. They may even attempt to do this through a muzzle, which can lead to a messy, unpleasant situation for both dog and owner.


● Remove potential sources: if your dog tries to eat cat poop, ensure the tray is placed somewhere your dog doesn’t have access to. Some suggest using an enclosed litter box, though this may not necessarily be best for your cat.

● Supervise your dog when they go outside, even if it’s just for a short time.

● Distract them: If they find poop, call them away, keeping the tone friendly and light.

● Ignore: If they manage to find some poop while training, avoid drawing attention to this.

● Wash your Hands: If your dog does eat poop, make sure they have something to eat or drink afterwards to rinse out their mouth and wash your hands thoroughly.

● Reward positive behaviour with a “high value” treat (i.e. something they rarely get).

Other Strategies

Feeding your dog courgette or pineapple gives their faeces a bitter taste that may act as a deterrent. While there is no definitive evidence to prove this, it may be worth trying -, but only introduce this in slow, small amounts, as sudden dietary changes can upset a dog’s stomach.

Some claim to have success with adding digestive enzymes or a supplement to address any nutritional deficiencies. If you are making any changes to your dog’s diet, always consult your vet first.

When To See A Vet

If you are concerned about any potential health issues, it is best to contact your vet, especially if:

● Your dog has started to eat poop suddenly, in a way that is “out of character” for them.

● Your dog is eating poop exclusively from one particular dog.

● There are any unexplained weight changes.

● Your dog has diarrhoea or is vomiting.

● There are changes in their coat (such as dullness or excessive shedding).

If your vet cannot find any underlying medical causes for your dog’s copraphia, it may be time to seek help from a certified dog behaviourist, who will be able to offer your pet structured training.

Above all, be patient, and stay consistent: The idea is to repeat the routine until the new habit is established, which can take roughly between 21-28 days, depending on the age and disposition of your pet.

From dog crate training to breaking bad habits, training can be tough. If you are looking for training equipment for your dog, look no further than our range of accessories including a variety of dog leads to suit your pet’s needs.

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