Why Dogs Feast on Feces
Thu, April 22, 2021

Why Dogs Feast on Feces

Our dogs are extremely lovable, so we must understand why sometimes, they 'eat' their poop / Photo Credit: Sergej Razvodovskij via 123rf


Dogs are extremely adorable. They can be great companions and are so fun to be with, at least until they eat their poop. This kind of behavior prompts anything but a smile. If you’re a dog owner that has the same problem, worry not. Dogs feasting on their feces is completely normal. 

A 2012 study conducted by researchers from the University of California, Davis, revealed that 16 percent of dogs are classified as “serious” stool eaters. This means that they have been caught in the act at least five times. Meanwhile, 24 percent of dogs have been observed eating feces at least once. If your dog sees his waste as a meal, it's natural to be confused. This behavior called “coprophagia” can be solved. But first, owners must understand why their pets do this. 

Previous studies have shown that eating fecal droppings for some animals like rabbits is a normal way of obtaining nutrients. Preventing rabbits from doing this would only cause health problems. Worse, the young ones would fail to survive. However, dogs never get nutrients in this manner. Also, coprophagia is generally considered part of the process of exploring the world around them. Most of the time, they get satisfied just by sniffing the feces, but some want to put it in their mouths. 

According to the American Kennel Club, the country’s leading authority on all things dogs, coprophagia is more common in multi-dog households. It was reported that only 20 percent of dogs living in single-dog homes have this habit. However, there was an increase of 33 percent among those living with other dogs. While eating feces poses little danger to dogs, it’s still important that they refrain from doing this at there might be bacteria and parasites in the stool. Dogs that eat the feces of another animal are also at risk of having intestinal parasites and potentially harmful bacteria that can easily lead to illness. 


Owners must understand the reasons why dogs keep exhibiting this behavior, because it is likely normal / Photo Credit: Alena Saklakova via 123rf


Why Dogs Eat Poop

Owners must understand the reasons why dogs keep exhibiting this behavior. This is normal for very young puppies. Unfortunately, some dogs hang on to this practice throughout their lives because the problem is never addressed. Here are some reasons your dog keeps eating his poop:

1 - Hunger and Food Obsession

Poor quality diets may lead to puppies snacking on their waste. Dogs tend to look to their feces as a supplement if they are not properly fed, primarily because their feces almost looks the same as their dog food. According to The Spruce Pets, an online site that offers practical, real-life tips and training advice to help you care for your pet, dogs suffering from severe malnutrition or starvation might eat anything they can find. Unfortunately, they might like the taste of their feces, which would make them want to eat it more.

Dogs who are hungry all the time might ingest anything that they think tastes good – in this case, their poop. Dogs who are fed in proximity to their feces sometimes can make a connection between the odors of food and feces. 

2 - Anxiety, Fear, and Stress

Have you ever punished your dog for pooping in an area they aren't allowed to poop in? This could contribute to why they choose to eat their feces. Dogs could start to become fearful of the consequences of pooping anywhere that they may begin to eat it to hide the evidence. If this happens on a regular basis, there’s a great chance that they will develop a compulsion to continue seeking feces to ingest. Also, eating feces could serve as a sort of self-soothing mechanism for dogs, especially if they are suffering from extreme stress. 

3 - Illness

Some health issues may cause coprophagia. For instance, diseases in the pancreas or small intestine may cause malabsorption or maldigestion. An increase in a dog's appetite can lead to this practice, which is often caused by conditions like diabetes and thyroid disease. An illness that changes the consistency or smell of the stool could also contribute to dogs wanting to eat their own stool. Dementia and other brain diseases, which result in confusion and disorientation, could also cause your dog to consume feces.


A research or clinical visit to vets would be great in addressing your dog's uncertain behavior / Photo Credit: photopw via 123rf


Preventing Dogs From Eating their Feces

The first step to ending the unpleasant habit of poop eating is to pick up and dispose of all feces immediately. The temptation of eating their feces must be immediately removed. This will not only break the habit but also prevent the upset stomach coprophagic dogs often experience. Owners must also restrict their dogs from entering certain areas where they could possibly eat feces in secret. 

According to Hills Pet, a brand that creates balanced dog and cat food for your their nutritional needs, owners must make sure that their dogs are leashed at all times. If you notice your dogs smelling the feces other animals left behind, keep him close to you. It’s important to provide them with a canine diet that’s higher in carbohydrates and lower in meat-based proteins and fats than the canine ancestral diet. Vitamins prescribed by your veterinarians are also highly recommended. 

Overall, owners should understand the underlying causes of their dogs’ behaviors, including the eating of poop. Punishing them will do no good. Instead, you can research or ask your vets to address those problems.