Why Dogs Eat Poop

While revolting to us, dogs eat poop for a number of reasons. Coprophagia (a fancy word for poop eating) can affect any breed, age and size dog.

I want to share part of an article by Dave McMahon of McMahon's Dog Training Academy in Niagara Falls, Ontario, that highlights the top 20 reasons for this behavior.  Read along as Dave unveils the mystery behind why dogs are so magnetized to eating their own poop, your cat’s poop or the neighbor’s dog’s poop.

Some people say that a dog (their mouth in particular) has less germs than a human... well, you decide!  Brace yourself. It's about to get rough...

Top 10 Reasons for Poop Eating

  • The dog might be hungry – if he doesn’t have access to food, chances are that a dog will eat whatever is available.  According to the humane society, this is completely true.  An example of where this might happen is at a puppy mill.

  • To clean up an area (like a housekeeper) – this is most likely to happen if a dog is chained up or confined.  Often, it will be a case of a dog being socially neglected, and since no one is doing it for him, he is simply cleaning up his own space.

  • The dog likes to carry poop and then eat it – this could be genetics, as some dogs have the instinct to retrieve!

  • A dog may have parasites or worms which are taking nutrients away from your dog, driving him to eat his poop or leaving him hungry for the proper fuel.
Dogs Eat PoopFlickr / Scott
  • To pass the time – if a dog is bored, lonely or stressed, he may eat his own poop.  Poop-eating can be a sign of neglect, along with self-mutilation (excessive licking or biting.

  • An anxious, nervous or very upset dog may eat his poop.

  • Stress will make a dog do strange things!

  • A dog may eat his poop to hide evidence – if you punish your dog for pooping in the house, he may do this to try to avoid your anger.  You shouldn’t get angry in the case of pooping in the house; just pick it up and let the dog watch you drop it outside on the grass.

  • If she’s had puppies, a female dog will eat puppy poop to keep them safe.  A dog has the instinct to hide the poop from predators, even though she’s a domesticated animal.

  • Young dogs eat poop as a novelty or as an experiment – they don’t know better!

More Reasons to Eat Poop

Still need more reasons? Read on...

  • If your dog watches you pick up poop, he may do the same.  This is possible, but not as likely as some of the other reasons here.
  • Your dog may see other dogs eating poop and do likewise – monkey see monkey do!

  • A dog may eat poop because he likes the taste – it’s warm, it’s moist, and a lot like what your dog was given as a young puppy.  As disgusting as this seems to us humans, it's true.

  • If your dog food lacks key nutrients, they may try to get those nutrients from their poop.

  • The dog is fed a low quality dog food that includes materials that are not easily passed or absorbed by your dog.  Their poop will look somewhat like what the dog has just eaten.
  • If your dog eats poop, it may be because they are given too much food – especially a diet high in fat! 

  • Dogs eat poop to gain attention.  This is possible, even if you correct the dog for doing it, as some dogs like even negative attention.
  • A dog may eat the poop of a more dominant dog as a submissive behavior.
  • If you feed your dog only once a day, your dog may eat his poop because he wants to eat more frequently - try feeding twice a day.
  • Curiosity – dogs are curious and will try to eat almost anything to explore.

If you've ever wondered why dogs eat poop, these reasons should satisfy that curiosity!

There are products that you can buy to put in your dog's food that supposedly makes their poop less appealing (though what can be worse than poop???), but I haven't had much success with them. The simplest way to prevent or stop this behavior is to keep your dog's potty area clean.

So get out there and scoop poop!