Why do dogs eat feces?


The canine coprophagia It is the behavior that some dogs adopt by which they eat their own feces or those of others. This action can expose our pets to various health problems by encouraging the appearance of bacteria or parasites in the intestines. Of course, although this habit is quite unpleasant, there are some reasons why they do it.

Although the ingestion of feces is common in both dogs and other species of animals, it usually creates rejection in the owner when observing this behavior. But on the other hand, it should be said that if the cause is not solved properly and in a timely manner, it can become a habitual habit in the dog.

However, the coprophagy or ingestion of feces is a behavior that in nature has its importance since many animals resort to it if they have nutritional deficiencies or other problems.

Nutritional deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies are usually the most common reason that causes a dog to eat its feces and is directly related to the type of food we offer. If we review the composition of the feed of our dog and observe a high percentage of cereals, perhaps this is the cause that is causing this behavior.

Dog. Image: Pexels

Boredom or loneliness

Boredom and loneliness are some of the main reasons why a dog eats its own poop. Dogs are animals that need and depend a lot on human attention, so if you stay alone for a long period of time you may play with your feces and even eat them.

Your bitch just had puppies

If your dog has just had puppies and eats her poop, she probably does it to keep the farrow clean.

Stress or anxiety are another cause for which a dog could eat its feces. The stress of a new home, going out once a day, are some of the reasons why you may have anxiety.

How to avoid eating your own stool

After having listed some of the most common reasons why your dog may be eating his feces, you should be sure that your dog feeds on the best feed and that he receives all the proteins, minerals and vitamins he needs in his day to day.

You have to be diligent in cleaning after a dog poops and should not be given a chance to sniff, let alone eat feces. That is why when you go for a walk, try to take your dog on a leash to avoid such situations.

Another solution is that your dog eats pineapple chunks, thus the nutrients of this fruit modify the taste and smell of the dog's feces and prevents them from eating them.

Why does my dog ​​eat poop?

Coprophagy is a habitual behavior They carry out many canids, including wild wolves, however, it is something that many first-time owners do not know. Although it is a behavior that we dislike, we must understand that in some occasions it is totally normal and acceptable, as it happens in lactating bitches, which ingest the feces of their puppies to keep the nest clean. Likewise, in other situations, it will not be considered normal behavior and that is when we must act.

But how do you know if this behavior should be repressed or not? And most importantly, how to avoid it? The first thing we should do is know the causes most common that explain the appearance of coprophagy, rule out an organic problem by visiting our vet of trust and, finally, if we cannot solve it ourselves, go to a behavior modification specialist, such as an ethologist, canine educator or trainer.

Why do dogs eat poop? - The 10 most common causes

In order to truly determine the cause of this behavior, it will be essential to pay attention to the dog's age, animal welfare, hours spent alone, his health status and when do you ingest stool. If you do it in your absence, it may be advisable place a camera to observe their behavior and thus determine the real cause of the problem.

Here is a list of 10 causes that explain why dogs eat their feces, those of other dogs in the home and even the feces of other animals:

  1. Puppy eating his feces: There are many puppy dogs that carry out this behavior and it is usually due to an exploratory behavior typical of the age that usually remits over time. In these cases we can observe that they ingest their own feces or other animals. It is also common in puppies that are in very impoverished environments (lack of toys, loneliness or abandonment, poor stimuli.) And in puppies that have passed their socialization stage in animal stores or away from their mother and siblings. We should consider this behavior abnormal after three or four months.
  2. Bitch eating feces of her puppies: once again we have a completely normal behavior. Lactating females ingest the feces of their pups to keep the nest clean and it is not something bad or negative that we should avoid. While we can help you keep the area clean, it is advisable to let it manifest this behavior, so as not to cause stressful situations for it. Remember that, especially in the early stages of life of the little ones, excessive manipulation of the little ones and the nest can cause rejection towards the little ones and even high levels of stress.
  3. Diseases and health problems: some pathologies can cause adult dogs (not usual in puppies) to eat their own or third party feces. The behavior may be caused by intestinal malabsorption syndrome or by exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, among others. It is important to highlight that before considering that this behavior is due to a behavioral problem, we rule out organic causes, visiting the veterinarian. We can know that we are facing a health problem if we observe problems digesting food (flatulence, vomiting or diarrhea). Sometimes it can also be caused by poor quality food. Remember that in order to properly digest cereals, the body needs an enzyme called amylase, which is responsible for assimilating the starch of this food, however, the dog does not produce a large amount, so it is not able to digest a high percentage of cereals. For that reason, if the dog eats feces, it finds the enzymes and trace elements necessary to synthesize the amylase of your diet Do not forget that, in addition, a high percentage of cereals leads to obesity and causes our dog to suffer from behavioral problems related to hyperactivity as well as excess blood sugar and cortisol.
  4. Wake up call: Although it may seem strange, it is one of the most common causes that explain why dogs eat "poop." The lack of socialization with their caregivers, especially if a situation of subsequent punishment occurs, can explain this behavior: the dog eats feces with the sole purpose of paying attention to it, even if a punishment occurs later. It can happen inside the home itself or when we visit a pipi-can and ignore the dog.
  5. Lack of stimulation and loneliness: If your dog spends many hours it is only likely that boredom and loneliness decide to eat their own feces. Ask yourself if you have enough time with him or if his environment is adequately enriched (he has toys and stimuli) and if not, take action. Remember that a dog should not spend more than 6 or 8 hours alone at home and that he should go for a walk at least twice a day. Likewise, you must also socialize, play and practice physical exercise.
  6. Use of punishment by the owner: If we use the punishment regularly with our dog when defecating at home or we approach the snout to the feces by fighting him, the dog can get to eat them to avoid our anger. This is a very negative situation for the dog, which also weakens our bond with him, so we must completely avoid punishment in these situations.
  7. Stress and anxiety: If you have observed any of the 10 signs of stress in the dog, you may need to review your dog's situation in relation to the hours of loneliness, physical activity, confinement, other behavioral problems or excessive use of punishment. Anxiety and stress often lead to various behavioral problems, including coprophagy.
  8. Dogs that eat feces from other animals: It is common for dogs to ingest feces from other animals such as: cats, rabbits, rats or horses among many others. For them, the feces of other individuals can be especially appetizing and tasty. However, while horse feces do not usually cause digestive disorders, cat feces can be harmful, as it is considered a form of contagion of some pathologies and parasites.
  9. Lack of hygiene in the home: If your dog is especially clean, he may decide to eat his own feces in order to prevent his habitat from being dirty. Ask yourself if you do enough walks with him and if not, start modifying your walking habits to avoid pooping at home. Spend time cleaning the house and garden on a regular basis.
  10. Other problems that cause your dog to eat his poop: There are many problems that, directly or indirectly, cause stool intake. For that reason, if you have not been able to identify the cause of this behavior in your dog it could be interesting to visit a veterinarian specialized in ethology.

If you have already managed to identify the cause that explains why your dog eats feces keep reading, we will give you some tricks and tips so you can start working to solve this problem.

How to prevent my dog ​​from eating poop?

Before showing you the possible solutions to this behavioral problem it will be essential to highlight that there is no single and infallible treatment, because each case is unique and the guidelines to follow must be adapted to the dog in particular and to the causes that are causing it. Precisely for that reason, a visit to a veterinarian (to rule out organic causes), canine ethologist or educator can be so necessary, to work this problem properly.

How to prevent a dog from eating feces or feces? - 8 tips

Here is a short list of useful information that can help you remedy this behavior and solve this problem once and for all. Take note and apply the tricks shown below to prevent your dog from eating poop:

  1. It prevents me from eating stool supervising it regularly (especially if it is a puppy), cleaning with enzymatic products and teaching your dog to urinate and defecate outside the home. Remember that it is a self-reinforcing behavior, that is, when you eat feces the dog "rewards" itself, so that the more feces you can eat the worse the case will evolve. Avoid having access to them!
  2. Check your dog's food to make sure the percentage of cereals is low. If you think it is a low quality product, do not hesitate to bet on one of the 15 best feed on the market or start a new style of nutrition at the hands of your veterinarian, such as the barf diet for dogs.
  3. More walks, exercise and wellness. Especially if you think that your dog suffers a behavior problem or has a lot of accumulated stress, it will be interesting to take more walks, between two and three a day, as well as dedicate a few hours to different games: go searching, intelligence games, smell. All this will help you to get distracted and improve your well-being, which is essential to address the problem.
  4. Avoid punishment, because the dog may be associating the punishment with a response to the attention he demands or he may eat feces to avoid precisely the punishment upon arrival at home. In any case, it is preferable to take all necessary measures to prevent him from ingesting feces to punish him, because we will also be generating extra stress and anxiety in the animal, thus aggravating the picture. Finally point out that the punishment (understood only as a "Do not") is only effective when applied just at the time of the action, not later. Although the dog shows you signs of submission, he is not aware of his misconduct, but adopts this position to end the punishment.
  5. Keep your area clean. Obviously, hygiene will not only help solve this problem but also make you less likely to suffer from some kind of illness or infection. The hygiene of your space, in the feeder and drinking fountain or in your bed is essential for the life of any pet. Remember to use enzymatic products and completely avoid the use of bleach or ammonia.
  6. Offer pineapple or zucchini prizes. Pineapple and zucchini are excellent foods that many dogs usually like. Instead of applying positive reinforcement with normal treats, try offering these foods. If you accept them, they will cause the taste of your own stool to be altered and it is common for you to stop eating the feces.
  7. Improve home enrichment, leaving at your disposal various toys, such as the classic kong, balls, teethers or dental bones. In addition, we can create environmental ambience with music, lights and other elements so that you do not feel so alone and begin to show this behavior out of boredom.
  8. Distribute your daily ration of food in several shots, so that you feel more satiated and for a longer time, in this way we will avoid the feeling of hunger, which favors the appearance of coprophagia.

Remember that ingesting both your own stool and other pets (dogs and cats) or animals is a dangerous, unhealthy and entails practice health risk of your dog. This behavior can be the cause of a disease or disorder of the animal itself. Avoid at all costs this behavior by spending time with your dog and going to the veterinarian or canine specialist if you do not find a solution.

If you want to read more articles similar to Why do dogs eat feces?, we recommend that you enter our Behavior Problems section.


Guadalupe Guadalupe Arreola Garcia says

Well, I will comment but it is clear to me that I should take my dog ​​to the vet. she eats the cat's poops, she doesn't lack food but I guess so, her food is boring ... she is a chuihuahua dog, I know that they are a very delicate breed of care and the same thing, I would not want to give her more than the croquette and The envelopes he loves. I think he eats well, but maybe if he is lacking nutrients ... thank you very much for the comments. They helped me a lot.

My dog ​​is 17 years old and has started eating his feces, he doesn't always do it but it gives me so much or what can I do?

the best thing would be to take him to do blood tests to the veterinarian, if he has started right now and with the greatest he is, he could respond to a health problem

Hello everyone I am from Ecuador and read all the comments and well the pets become members of the family and you have to have them very neat but as they are wanted they are also reprimanded as a son when he does something wrong I have a scot French and small dog ate his poop and I caught him on several occasions I am very disgusting I could not stand one day I saw him and punished him with my flip flop I gave him in the bear and every time he did that he punished him no later it was necessary I only saw VAT to do it and ran today is a great affectionate man who likes to scratch his head but only he lives with two girls that I have no problems as to what they eat human poop every dog ​​does but I can not stand is when I go out with them to the park I watch them at all times and they are very obedient of a single scream they withdraw and do not do it and we return all happy I caress the three of them I give them fresh water every day I wash them the dishes what do they eat and I have them n My terrace full of plants does not destroy me either, they only eat the herbs that grow around. I thank you for commenting and did not spend all day with them I live alone and worked but they are my joy when he arrived but I reward them every week I make them a soup of chicken livers or large bones here to entertain chewing this four-legged son they are beautiful and the three are very fine but they are good children thanks for reading my comment and don't see my spelling mistakes

Ingrid Ojeda says

Like ago for my dog ​​to stop eating her stool she is only 4 months old

Behold…. Dogs do not care the breed will always have that wild instinct ... It doesn't matter if he sleeps outside or inside (in my case in bed ... ... and covered ... ... I know ...), but we all have the animal instinct. Eg as a child they told you not to eat that is "poop", do not do that, do not do the other because it is wrong ... we because for the moment we are the only proven species that can reason "well or ... ... for bad". I believe it is simply the holor so strong that it attracts them like all primates, except that there is no mother of its kind that tells her "that is poop is disgusting, don't put your snout".