Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Why do dogs eat poop?“. I have!
Some things dogs do just make no sense to me. I have tons to write about when I think about the things dogs do and why they do them.
For the sake of not writing a book (maybe one day) and keeping this article short, I will be covering the answer to “Why do dogs eat poop?” for you. I will also discuss if it is bad that dogs eat poop and what to do to get your dog to stop eating poop.
I know this can be a disgusting topic and no I didn’t add any pictures of real dog poop in this article. But I did add some pics of really cute dogs and pups!
Aren’t they so adorable? More to come later!
But anyway, back to the topic at hand. Why do dogs eat poop? Dogs eating poop can be gross, so what can you do about it?
First, let’s address the question of why dogs eat poop so you can better understand the possible reasons and then read on to figure out what you can do to stop your dogs from eating poop.
Why do dogs eat poop?
Dogs eat poop for many different reasons. Dogs eat poop for taste, nutrition, anxiety, curiosity, boredom, illnesses, and many other reasons. Mother dogs eat poop to clean their puppies and to keep them safe. For dogs, this is normal behavior. For humans, it can be quite gross!
Let’s dive into this subject a little further.
Puppies are usually the culprits when referring to a dog eating poop. The mother will ingest the puppy’s poop when cleaning the puppies to hide their scent and to keep the area clean.
This process happens for about the first 3 weeks after birth. This is a natural and instinctual behavior for the mother dog to keep everything sanitized and to keep her puppies safe.
Puppies are likely to adopt this behavior from their mother early on. Most puppies will grow out of this disgusting habit before or around the time they reach adulthood (which ranges from 9 to 15 months depending on the breed of the dog).
But what if your dog doesn’t stop eating poop? What do you do if your dog is still eating poop after becoming an adult?
If your adult dog eats poop, here are 14 reasons that may be happening:
1. The Taste – This will sound gross to some people (including me), but this is one of the most common reasons dogs eat poop. Some dogs like the taste of certain poop.
Dogs don’t act or think like us so eating poop to them is not bad or gross. Dogs especially love some horse, goose, or goat poop.
2. Anxiety and Stress – Dogs that are stressed or suffer from anxiety issues may eat poop as a way to relieve that stress and anxiety.
3. Attention – Some dogs will eat poop to try to get attention or a reaction from their owners.
4. Confinement – If a dog is confined in a very small space, it may eat its poop to clean up after itself or due to anxiety or stress from being confined.
5. Curiosity – You see this more in puppies when they are young. But older dogs can be curious as to what certain poop tastes like.
Your dog may like the way some random poop smells. Maybe your dog wants to see if it tastes like chicken.
6. Drugs – Some drugs, such as steroids, will cause a dog to eat poop.
7. Food Association – If a dog is being fed too close to where it poops, it may associate the two.
8. Isolation – Studies have shown that if some dogs are isolated for long periods, those dogs are more likely to eat their poop.
9. Malnutrition – If a dog is malnourished, it may eat poop as a way to make up for the lack of nourishment. This may be seen in dogs that are not getting enough food.
10. Nutrition Deficiencies – Before dogs were domesticated, they were wild animals and ate their prey whole. Eating their prey whole would include the stomach, intestines, and all those other yummy goodies.
Now, most dogs get more of a processed diet. I am guilty of this with my dogs sometimes. A processed diet doesn’t always give dogs everything they need for nutrition, so a dog may eat poop as a way to try and fix this imbalance.
11. Punishment – If a dog has been punished for pooping in the house, it may eat the poop as a way to hide the evidence.
This will happen if the dog has been punished by putting its nose up or in the poop. Since dogs don’t understand what they are supposed to do in a situation like this, the dog may even think it is supposed to eat the poop and was being punished for not eating the poop.
12. Please Their Owners – Some dogs will eat their poop as a way to try and please their owners by cleaning up after themselves. I hope my dogs never decide to start pleasing me this way!
13. Illness or Condition – Thyroid disease, diabetes, and other conditions exist in some dogs that may cause them to have a bigger appetite, causing them to resort to eating poop.
14. Protecting the Pack – If you have an elderly or a sick dog living in the house with another dog, the other dog may eat the elderly or sick dog’s poop as a way to hide the scent from predators to protect the pack.
Will eating poop be harmful to your dog?
It isn’t harmful if the dog is eating its poop. While it may be gross to many and isn’t a part of a dog’s regular digestion, it should not hurt the dog or make it sick.
However, if your dog is eating other animals’ poop, this has the potential for some harm because your dog could get parasites and viruses from the other animal’s contaminated stool.
Worry less if your dog has eaten its poop, but if it eats another animal’s poop, just keep an eye out for any sickness.
If your dog eats poop and you are concerned for your dog’s health, please DO NOT hesitate to pick up the phone and contact your local vet for guidance.
How to clean your dog’s mouth after your dog eats poop?
Steps to cleaning your dog’s mouth after your dog eats poop:
Step 1: Get a toothbrush specifically designed for dogs, preferably a soft bristles brush for comfort.
Step 2: Get a toothpaste that is specifically designed for dogs. Toothpaste specifically made for dogs will contain dog-friendly flavors that your dog is familiar with.
Step 3: Give your dog a dab of the toothpaste to let your dog get used to the toothpaste. You don’t want to overwhelm your dog with a lot at once if the dog has never used toothpaste before.
Step 4: Lift your dog’s lips to expose the outside surfaces of their teeth and gums.
Step 5: Brush with gentle motions as if you were brushing your teeth.
Step 6: Your dog may only allow you to clean the outside surfaces of their teeth and gums, so don’t stress if your dog gives you a hard time about cleaning the inside surfaces of their mouth, just do the best you can.
Step 7: Pay extra special attention to the back upper molars and canines since a lot of tartar build-up can happen in the back area quickly.
Step 8: Reward your dog for positive re-enforcement. Give your dog its favorite toy, play with your dog, or just pet your dog. Just try to ensure your dog associates getting its teeth brushed as good behavior.
To also help with a dog’s mouth, there are lots of other cool products to keep a clean dog mouth regularly.
What can you do to get your dog to stop eating poop?
Dogs usually stop eating poop before they turn a year old. If your dog is older than one and is still eating poop, give these tips a try:
Vet Checked – Get your dog a checkup at your local vet to determine if your dog has any illness or disease that could be causing the dog to eat poop.
Ease Stress/Anxiety – If your dog is new to your environment, it may take time for your dog to adjust. So if you just got your dog, give it a little time to become more familiar and less stressed.
Worms can also cause a dog to become stressed. If you suspect worms, get your dog a consult.
Keep Watch – Monitor your dog and pick up the poop whenever the dog does its business. If you clean up the yard after the dog poops, there is nothing to eat.
Vitamin Supplements – If you suspect your dog is eating poop because it is missing some vitamins and nutrients, you can test out a vitamin supplement to see if that helps. There are lots of options when it comes to dog vitamins.
Bromelain – Add meat tenderizer to the dog’s food. Some meat tenderizers contain bromelain, which is extracted from pineapples. It makes the dog’s poop taste terrible.
Make It Unbearable – Aside from Bromelain, you can also try coating your dog’s poop with something like lemon juice or hot sauce, it should deter the dog from eating future poop. It may take a few times or only once, but it should work.
I don’t recommend apple cider vinegar or white vinegar. Even though it would likely work because of the taste, some dogs may have an allergic reaction or get an upset stomach to either.
And you could also try putting a few tablespoons of canned pumpkin in your dog’s food every day. Many people would agree that pumpkin tastes good, but it does not taste good when it is in dog poop.
I’ve never tested that theory of whether pumpkin tastes bad in dog poop, but you are welcome to try. 🙂
There are plenty of products out there that are made specifically to help stop dogs from eating their poop.
Stop Punishment – If the dog stops associating punishment with the poop, it may stop eating it.
Family Time – If the dog is being left in isolation for long periods, this could happen, especially if the dog is crate-trained only.
If you work a lot and your dog is being left alone in its crate or a small area to roam around, it may eat its poop. If you can find a way to get the dog out more during the day while you are gone, it may fix the problem.
You could try hiring a dog walker or having a family member stop by to let your dog out.
Food Association – If your dog poops too close to where it eats, it may associate the two. So don’t put the pee or poop pad too close to the food bowl.
If the dog just happens to poop close to where it eats, try to move its food bowl to a different area and see if that makes a difference.
Pretend – Some dogs poop to get a reaction or attention from their owners. If you react to the poop eating when you see it, then you are playing into the dog’s game.
If you catch your dog in the act, just pay your dog no attention and don’t react at all. If your dog is eating poop for attention and you stop giving it attention, 2 + 2 = 4.
Training – Get your dog professional training or learn how to train your dog with simple commands. If your dog already knows simple commands, you can try teaching them commands like “Let’s Go” or “No” in a stern but calm voice. Just don’t overdo it.
These are many of the things you can try to stop your dog from eating poop. If nothing works and your dog is still eating poop, give your vet a call and see what they recommend.
Now that you have a handle on the possible reasons your dog may be eating poop, I hope you find it a little less disgusting the next time you witness it happen. No, you won’t, you say? Yeah, me neither!
But at least you know more about it and the possible reasons behind it. Most dogs will just eat poop because it tastes good to them. Some will eat out of boredom.
Some will eat if they are malnourished or deficient in nutrients, and others may eat poop as a dare from some of their dog buddies.
Okay, that last one isn’t true, but it’s something I could see dogs doing if they did dares.
That is all I have for now. I hope you enjoyed the read!
I am constantly producing new articles about dogs and the things they do. Click here to read more articles about dogs.