Does Your Dog Eat Their Poop? Here’s Why

Does Your Dog Eat Their Poop? Here’s Why

As a dog owner, it can be concerning and unsanitary when your furry friend chows down on their own poop. While it may seem like a bizarre and disgusting behavior, it’s actually quite common in dogs. In fact, up to 16% of dogs are known to be coprophagic, meaning they eat their own feces or that of other animals. But why do dogs do this? In this article, we’ll explore the possible reasons behind coprophagia in dogs and what you can do to prevent it.

Reasons Why Dogs Eat Poop

Instinctual Behaviors

One of the theories behind coprophagia in dogs is that it’s an instinctual behavior inherited from their wild ancestors. Canids, which include wolves, foxes, and coyotes, are known to eat the feces of other animals. This behavior is thought to serve several purposes, including:

  • Obtaining nutrients: When food is scarce, eating feces can be a way for canids to obtain essential nutrients that were not absorbed during the first digestion.
  • Concealing their presence: Eating feces can help canids hide their presence and avoid detection by predators or prey.
  • Keeping their den clean: Canids may eat the feces of their young to keep their den clean and reduce the risk of attracting predators or parasites.

While domestic dogs have evolved from their wild counterparts, some of these instinctual behaviors may still be present in their DNA. However, it’s important to note that not all dogs exhibit coprophagia, even those with wild ancestors.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Another possible reason why dogs eat poop is due to nutritional deficiencies. If a dog is not getting enough of certain nutrients in their diet, they may be compelled to eat feces in an attempt to obtain those missing nutrients. For example, if a dog is not getting enough fiber, they may eat their own feces to obtain additional fiber.

However, it’s important to note that this theory is not widely accepted among veterinarians and animal behaviorists. Most dogs are able to obtain all the nutrients they need from a well-balanced diet, and there are few cases where nutritional deficiencies have been linked to coprophagia.

Behavioral Issues

In some cases, coprophagia can be a sign of behavioral issues in dogs. Dogs that are bored, anxious, stressed, or seeking attention may choose to eat their own feces as a form of entertainment or to get their owner’s attention. This is especially common in dogs that are left alone for long periods of time or do not receive enough exercise or mental stimulation.

Other behavioral issues that may contribute to coprophagia include:

  • Separation anxiety
  • Fear or phobias
  • Compulsive disorders

If you suspect that your dog’s coprophagia is due to a behavioral issue, it’s important to seek help from a veterinarian or animal behaviorist. They can help identify the underlying cause of the behavior and work with you to develop a treatment plan.

Health Risks of Coprophagia

While coprophagia is not necessarily harmful to dogs, it does come with some health risks. Eating feces can expose dogs to a variety of parasites and bacteria, including:

  • Roundworms
  • Hookworms
  • Salmonella
  • E. coli
  • Giardia

These parasites and bacteria can cause a range of health issues in dogs, including diarrhea, vomiting, and even more serious illnesses like pancreatitis and kidney failure.

Additionally, if a dog eats feces that contain certain toxins, such as rat poison or medication, it can be fatal. It’s important to monitor your dog’s behavior and prevent them from eating any feces, even if it’s their own.

How to Prevent Coprophagia in Dogs

Preventing coprophagia in dogs can be challenging, as there are several possible causes for the behavior. However, there are some steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of your dog eating their own poop:

  • Feed your dog a well-balanced diet with all the necessary nutrients
  • Keep your dog’s living area clean and free of feces
  • Monitor your dog when they are outside and prevent them from eating feces
  • Provide your dog with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation
  • Seek help from a veterinarian or animal behaviorist if you suspect a behavioral issue

If your dog has a habit of eating their own poop, it’s important to address the behavior as soon as possible. Not only is it unsanitary and unpleasant, but it can also put your dog’s health at risk. By taking steps to prevent coprophagia and addressing any underlying issues, you can help keep your furry friend healthy and happy.


Sure! Here are 3 popular FAQs with answers regarding a dog eating their poop:

Why does my dog eat their poop?

There are various reasons that could cause a dog to eat their poop, including boredom, anxiety, stress, and nutritional deficiencies. Dogs may also do this as a learned behavior from their mother or littermates. In some cases, it could be due to medical problems such as parasites, malabsorption, or enzyme deficiencies.

Is it harmful if my dog eats their poop?

Eating poop, also known as coprophagia, is not necessarily harmful to your dog, but it could lead to health problems in some cases. If your dog eats poop that belongs to another animal, they could contract parasites and illnesses. Eating poop could also result in dietary imbalances, which could cause digestive issues, weight loss, and other health complications.

How can I prevent my dog from eating their poop?

Preventing your dog from eating their poop could involve a few strategies. One way is to make sure that you clean up after your dog immediately to remove any temptations. You could also try providing your dog with a high-quality diet that meets their nutritional needs. Additionally, keeping your dog engaged with toys and exercise can help alleviate boredom and stress that may lead to coprophagia. If the behavior persists, it’s best to consult your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

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