The Scoop on Poop: Why Is My Dog Eating It?

by Catherine Tucker / Pet Care, Health & Fitness / 24 Oct 2017

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Is your dog eating poop and you don't know why? We explore why they do it and how to prevent the gross fetish.

The technical term for dogs eating poop is coprophagia, and yes it is disgusting but what can it mean for your puppy’s health?


Dogs eating poop is a normal behaviour for dogs, however the reasons for said behaviour can be varied based on their age, training, living conditions and their diet.

This behaviour has a long history with some experts assert this behaviour is the root of domestication.

Wild canids would eat human refuse outside of settlements, and over time these animals came to resemble our domestic dogs more and more.

Before being domesticated dogs were scavengers and dogs commonly fed on the waste of other animals.

As well as liking poop, a dogs digestive systems are designed in such a way that they can gain nutrition from the waste products of other animals.

Poop eating may just be a remnant of dog history, however here are some other common reasons for dogs eating poop.

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  • Pecking order: In a household with multiple dogs submissive dogs sometimes eat the stool of their dominant counterparts
  • Dogs pick up things quickly: If they see other dogs eating poop your dog may learn the behaviour from them
  • Housebreaking accidents: If dogs have been heavily punished for housebreaking accidents they may “dispose of the evidence” the next time
  • For puppies it may be a learning experience: Puppies learn but putting things in their mouth but most will develop a distaste for poop fairly quickly.
  • Health issues: Your dog may not be absorbing enough nutrients, have parasites or issues with their pancreas and it is best to have them are examined by a veterinarian.
  • Prefer poop to dog food: some veterinary nutritionists suggested dogs eat stool to replenish enzymes, certain nutrients (particularly vitamin B) or being overfeed and want to “recycle” their nutrient rich waste.
  • Feeling neglected: For an attention seeking pet, negative attention is still attention, dogs that are bored or lonely may also play with and eat stool or if their living conditions are unclean they may resort their own “housekeeping” efforts.

All that being said, coprophagia is not a behaviour many of us want in our companion dog – especially if they like to give us big licks!



Practice makes perfect and it’s the same with dogs. The more they practice eating poop, the better your dog will get at this behaviour.

If your dog eats poop and you want them to stop carefully management and preventing them from “practicing” that poop-eating behaviour is extremely important.


  • Thoroughly clean your yard and pick up each new pile as soon as it happens. Don’t give them the opportunity to wonder how that fresh, enticing piece of poop tastes.
  • If you have other pets living with your dog, clean up after them right away also – especially litter boxes – to keep temptation at bay
  • Keep your dog mentally and physically engaged. Regular play time, dog walking, agility training and enrichment to keep them entertained
  • Check their diet and make sure they are eating raw, whole and varied diet of quality proteins. Raw food has digestive enzymes your dog need to help them process his meals.
  • Avoid punishment as it is ineffective, according to a study at University of California, Davis of 1,500 pet owners.



Coprophagia is obviously gross but simple act of eating poop may be more complicated than it first appears.

If your dog has an appetite for stool, look for medical causes and seek veterinary advice.

Once they are all clear of any medical issues then make sure to keep things clean, your dog engaged and well fed.

Patience and consistency is key.


Tell us: Is your dog eating poop? Please share your tips and stories about poop-eating dogs in the comments!

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