Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

By helloBARK!
Updated on 23 June 2023

Have you noticed your dog eating poop?

They could be eating their own poop, poop at the dog park or raiding the cat’s litter box.

I’ve got two Alaskan Klee Kai dogs and they’re obsessed with the cat litter box.

Once I found a safe space for the litter box, I started to ponder the reasons behind this peculiar behaviour.

In this article, we’ll hear from four experts to find out why do dogs eat poop.

Golden Retriever goes potty behind a tree (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Golden Retriever goes potty behind a tree (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Enzyme Deficiency

Dr Candy Akers, Holistic Veterinarian At Healthy Happy Dogs

As a holistic veterinarian, I understand that the topic of dogs eating poop, or coprophagia, can be quite concerning and puzzling for pet owners. Rest assured that you are not alone in seeking answers to this peculiar behavior. There are multiple factors that may contribute to this habit, and I will do my best to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the possible reasons and underlying causes.

• Nutritional deficiencies: One of the primary reasons a dog may consume feces is due to a lack of essential nutrients in their diet. In some cases, dogs may be seeking specific nutrients or minerals that are not being provided by their current diet. I like to use whole-food nutritional supplementation that contains minerals like magnesium, manganese, and calcium to help replenish some of these minerals the dog may be lacking.

• Enzyme deficiency: Dogs may also eat feces as a result of an enzyme deficiency in their digestive system. Inadequate levels of certain enzymes can hinder the complete digestion and absorption of nutrients from food, causing a dog to seek alternative sources. Supplementing with digestive enzymes as well as pre and probiotics may help in this situation.

• Behavioral factors: Poop eating can be a manifestation of various behavioral issues, such as stress, anxiety, boredom, or a desire for attention. In these cases, addressing the root cause of the behavior is crucial. This may involve providing more mental and physical stimulation, offering a consistent routine, or implementing positive reinforcement training techniques.

• Health issues: Certain medical conditions, such as parasitic infections, malabsorption syndromes, or endocrine disorders, can lead to dogs wanting to eat poop.
Evolutionary and maternal instincts: Some theories suggest that dogs’ ancestors may have consumed feces to keep their environment clean and free of parasites, or as a means of survival when food was scarce. Additionally, mother dogs naturally consume their puppies’ feces to maintain cleanliness and protect the litter from predators.

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer or solution as to why dogs eat poop. The underlying causes can vary significantly from dog to dog. As a holistic veterinarian, I recommend a thorough examination of your dog’s diet, environment, and overall health to identify and address any potential triggers.

Keep Things Clean

Dr Linda Simon, Veterinary Consult For Dogaspet.com

There can be a range of reasons why dogs eat poop and it is something that about 20% will do at some point in their lives. It is a more common behaviour in puppies but can happen at any age. Dogs may eat their own poop, or the poop of other dogs or animals.

One of the most common causes of poop eating is in an effort to ‘keep things clean’. If a dog has been told off for toileting inside, they may instinctively eat their poop after they go, so as to not disappoint their owner .This behaviour can continue even when outdoors, as many do not understand why they were shouted at, and thing it was due to the act of passing stool.

Some dogs enjoy the taste of poo! This is especially true for those who eat cat poo, which typically has a higher protein content. We can try and stop this by getting a covered cat litter tray for our kitties.

Boredom is a top reason for poop eating. This is especially true for dogs who are left outside alone for long periods of the day. Dogs are intelligent creatures who need mental and physical stimulation, and an enriching environment, in order to stay content.

Staffordshire bull terrier poops (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Staffordshire bull terrier poops (Photo: Adobe Stock)

It’s called Coprophagia

Leena Chitnis, Founder And CEO of Timberdog

Eating poop, or coprophagia, is a relatively common behavior in dogs. While it might seem gross to us, there are a few reasons why dogs might engage in this behavior:

• Nutritional deficiencies: In some cases, dogs may eat poop because they are not getting enough of certain nutrients in their diet.

• Instinctual behavior: Dogs are descended from wolves, and wolves in the wild often eat feces as a way to keep their dens clean and prevent the spread of disease.

• Boredom or stress: Dogs who are bored or stressed may engage in coprophagia as a form of self-stimulation or to alleviate anxiety.

• Medical issues: In some cases, coprophagia can be a symptom of an underlying medical issue, such as pancreatic insufficiency or intestinal parasites.

Speak To Your Vet

David louvet, CEO of Innovet

Dogs may consume human waste for a variety of reasons, including boredom, hunger, or a diet deficient in nutrients. Some canines, particularly pups, may also exhibit it as a natural behavior.

To rule out any underlying medical concerns, it’s recommended to speak with a veterinarian if your dog’s poop-eating tendency is extensive or accompanied by other symptoms.

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