Stool-eating, also known as Coprophagia, is one of the most disgusting habits of dogs. Based on a study conducted by Dr. Hart from the School of Veterinary Medicine at University of California, here are some fun fecal facts about Coprophagia:

  • Female dogs are more likely to eat poop, while males that haven’t been neutered were the least likely.
  • Coprophagia is more common in multi-dog households (compare 20% in single-dog homes vs. 33% in homes with 3+ dogs).
  • 92% of poop eaters prefer poop that’s only 1-2 days old.
  • Dogs will rarely eat soft, poorly formed stools or diarrhea. They’re more attracted to hard or even frozen stools. (The latter are called “poopcicles.” The more you know.)
  • 85% of poop eaters only eat other dogs’ feces and not their own.
  • Dogs who steal food off tables tend to be poop eaters too.

Although it’s very nasty for us humans, it’s actually a relatively common habit of many dogs. The reasons why some dogs eat feces are not entirely known, but they can range from behavioral to medical, and here are some theories:

Why do dogs eat poop?

1. It’s their instinct.

Mother dogs instinctively lick their pups clean, which includes ingesting the puppies' feces. This normal maternal behavior keeps the pups and their environment clean. Many puppies will begin to eat feces at a young age. Some pups grow out of this normal behavior while others continue this into adulthood.

Eating the feces of other species is also considered natural behavior. If you have a cat, your dog may not be able to resist and stay away from the litter box. Most dogs love the taste of cat poop, probably due to the high-protein diets of cats.

2. Malnutrition or Nutrient Deficiency or Food Obsession

A dog suffering from starvation or severe malnutrition might eat anything it can find. While many dogs are completely obsessed with food and will ingest anything that tastes good to them.

3. Symptom of disease or illness

Certain diseases and illnesses can cause a dog to eat feces. A symptom of some diseases is increased appetite or ingestion of inappropriate items called pica. Pica is a condition that drives dogs (and people) to eat non-food items like hair, drywall, dirt and stones, paper, poop, and more. An illness that changes the consistency or smell of the stool might encourage a dog to eat his own stool. You should schedule a check up with your veterinarian as soon as you notice any sudden onset of coprophagia.

4. Fear, Boredom or Separation Anxiety– Puppies left unsupervised or alone for long periods may simply investigate, play with, and eat feces. A dog that is extremely scared or under a great deal of stress may eat his own stool.

5. Behavioral problem and attention seeking– Playing with or eating feces usually attracts a lot of attention from the owner, which may further reinforce the behavior.


What Are the Risks of Dogs Eating Feces?

It generally poses little danger for a dog to eat his own stool. However, bacteria and parasites from that stool can possibly be transmitted to humans and other animals through contact with the dog's mouth and saliva. If you are unable to keep your dog from eating feces, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly if you are in contact with your dog's mouth/saliva.

According to the AKC, “eating their own poop is harmless, but consuming that of other animals may cause health problems if the stool is contaminated with parasites, viruses, or toxins.” A dog that is known to eat the feces of other animals should have frequent fecal analyses by a veterinarian.

Perhaps the worst effect of a dog eating poop is the foul breath you have to smell. Home dental care can help the breath, but it's best to prevent stool-eating altogether.


How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Poop

Be Clean

It pays to always pick up after your dog, or keep your cat’s litter box clean. Cleaning up the poop when it happens will give your dog less opportunity to pounce on the poop.

Keep their body and mind active.

Provide an adequate amount of exercise and mental stimulation to keep them busy. This is really important if you have a working breed. Choose safe toys that provide entertainment for times when you can’t play together.

 JW Pet Toy Hol-ee Football Medium 1pc

Feed the Best Diet You Can

A complete and balanced diet like Natural Balance will ensure that your dog is receiving all the nutrients he needs.

Natural Balance Original Ultra Grain Free Chicken Small Breed Bites Formula 4 lbs

Add Supplements When Needed

You may also want to give them supplements with probiotics or digestive enzymes to help curb this bad habit.

Naturvet Advanced Probiotic and Enzymes 70 Chews

Don’t punish your dog

Punishment may stop the behavior in the short-term, but it could make the behavior worse. If a dog is punished for inappropriate defecation or other action related to feces, he may associate the punishment with the presence of feces. By eating the feces, he is removing the "evidence" to avoid punishment.