We have a dog in our pack right now is voracious about eating poop.
Given the chance he would run around and eat every piece the minute it hits the ground – gross right!?!
This isn’t the first time we’ve dealt with this and it certainly won’t be the last. I have been asked before why dogs eat poop and what can be done to curb the habit.
I thought I’d write a bit on the topic because there are so many reasons/possible causes and some of them might be a warning that something else is going on with your dog’s health – so it’s important to pay attention to this if it’s happening with your dog!
Let’s start with the medical reasons a dog might eat poop:

  • 1. Enzyme Deficiency
  • 2. Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)
  • 3. Parasites
  • 4. Any Condition that Causes an increased Appetite
  • 5. Different Types of Deficiencies
  • 6. Malabsorption
  • 7. Underfeeding
    Essentially it boils down to the same principle – your dog is lacking something and trying to compensate for it. Whether it is a lack of enzymes (digestive or otherwise), a parasite that is absorbing the nutrients your dog should be getting, diseases like diabetes, deficiencies like hydrochloric acid deficiency, or a lack of food/the proper food – the bottom line is that your dog’s body is lacking something that he/she is trying to find in that pile of poop. It’s a natural instinct for them to compensate when they are missing certain things from their bodies. What’s more, with all the raw food/cooked food diets out there many dog’s poops are becoming more and more “tempting” (as completely disgusting as that sounds) because they are chalk full of “yummy goodness”. Ok, I’m grossing myself out now LOL
    The other side of poop eating is the behavioural side. Possible reasons include:

  • 1. Cleanliness
  • 2. Attention Seeking
  • 3. Puppies
  • 4. Stress
  • 5. Scavenging
  • 6. Boredom
  • 7. Punishment
  • 8. Copy Cat / Mimicking
    If a dog is raised / lives in an environment where poop is left all over the place (eg. an unclean home or a puppy mill) they may be inclined to start eating it.
    If a dog is left alone a lot and has nothing else to do and nothing to stimulate their minds (eg. boredom, attention seeking) they may start eating it just because there’s nothing else to do, or because when they do they get a big reaction from their owners which they come to expect (even negative attention can be desirable if they feel neglected most of the time).
    If a dog is very young and they are learning about life and seeing/doing things for the first time they may eat poop just to see what the heck it is and see if they like it. Puppies tend to put everything in their mouths, just like babies. If your puppy is hanging around with another dog that eats poop they may learn this behaviour through observation. Even a more mature dog may learn this behaviour if they are spending a lot of time with other dogs who do the same (eg. copycat / mimicking).
    If you are teaching a young dog (or any dog) not to poop in the house and you punish them by pushing their nose in their poop you’re not doing yourself any favors. You could create a whole other issue when they start eating it to hide it from you.
    Ok so, we now know what might be some of the causes of poop eating – now for the real challenge – how to stop them from doing it!
    1. Keep your dog’s environment clean / free of stray poops.
    2. Keep your dog mentally / physically engaged, stimulated and exercised.
    3. Provide your dog with a complete, varied and balanced diet with a variety of quality proteins.
    4. Supplement any deficiencies your dog may have. There are a multitude of natural ways to supplement your dog’s diet the same way there are for humans!
    5. Check your dog’s stool for parasites / worms. if you see them take a sample and make a vet appointment immediately.
    6. Avoid punishing your dog using their poop. Even without using their poop, punishing a dog is a very stressful thing for them. Take a look at some positive reinforcement methods – you will get so much further this way!!!
    7. Monitor your dog’s digestion. If they have bowel issues, inconsistent BMs, etc. make a vet appointment – the faster you can pinpoint the issue the better you can form a plan that makes sense.
    The main point is, figure out whether your dog’s poop eating habit is being caused by something medical or something behavioural and then from there you can start breaking down the issue further into the different possible causes.
    Several of the dogs I have known over the years that started eating poop turned out to have a medical reason behind it that otherwise would not have been discovered until much later had the owners not taken it seriously.
    It might be gross or embarrassing to talk about but it’s totally worth it and your dog will thank you!