September 15, 2020 5 min read

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Yes, unfortunately, dogs do eat poop. As a dog parent who deals with the poop eating issue, I can honestly say that it is an extremely challenging and unpleasant issue to resolve. Though humans find this habit extraordinarily stomach-turning, it is a natural behavior among both wild and domestic canines.

And dogs are not the only animals that eat poop. Other animals, such as rabbits, also eat poop as part of their regular diet. However, unlike rabbits, dogs do not need poop to stay healthy. Some dogs will eat their own poop, but it is more common for dogs to eat poop from other canines.

Why do dogs eat poop?

Dogs eat poop for a variety of reasons, some because of instinct and others due to behavior.

Natural Instinct

Mother dogs will aid their puppies to encourage bowel movements by licking their backside. After the puppy has had defecated, it is normal for the mother dog to clean up after her puppies.

Dogs living in a multi-dog household may eat poop if there is an older or sick dog in the house. It is an ingrained behavior from when dogs lived in the wild, and it is a way to protect the pack.

Health Reasons

There are a few different health reasons why dogs will eat poop. Some dogs eat poop because of a vitamin or nutrient deficiency. The most common lack linked to dogs eating poop is vitamin B.

Two other health issues connected with dogs eating poop are Cushing’s Disease and diabetes, which can change their appetite. Additionally, dogs obsessed with food and that overweight who have been recently put on a diet have also been known to start eating poop. Dogs do not necessarily see poop as a food source, but neither are most opposed to eating it when hungry.

Dogs that are starving will eat poop. Some rescues who have lived on the street and who never had enough to eat will eat poop out of habit or instinct of not allowing food to go to waste.


Dogs living in a multi-dog household have been noticed eating poop more than those that live alone. However, some dogs will eat poop due to behavioral or emotional issues. Dogs who get into trouble for having accidents may get anxious about their bowel movements and start eating poop to avoid punishment.

Dogs left alone for long periods, mostly when left in kennels or outdoors, will often start eating poop. And dogs seeking attention will eat poop if it gets their owners to notice them, even though it is bad attention.

Puppies, in particular, will eat poop, though many grow out of the habit. Puppies witness their mother consuming poop will copy the behavior though many grow out of it without intervention. Additionally, some puppies are just curious and will give it a whirl as they explore their new world.

Unfortunately, some dogs will eat it when it is frozen. So, those who live in areas where temperatures drop below freezing commonly see their dog snacking on frozen treats.

Sold out


Another possible reason your dog might suddenly start eating poop is if there is a change in medications, especially if they are now on steroids, which cause an increase in appetite.

Dogs who eat the poop of other dogs sometimes do so due to the other dog’s diet. I have four dogs and feed three different foods, so sometimes the other dogs find their siblings leavings quite interesting.

The bottom line is that there is no one reason or even a logical reason dogs eat poop. It is just something their human parents need to figure out and hopefully find a solution to putting an end to this habit.

Health Concerns from Dogs Eating Poop

Humans generally think that eating poop would be harmful, and though it can be, it is not as bas as you might think. When dogs eat their poop or the poop of a healthy dog, there is not a huge danger as far as health issues go.

However, some dogs eat other species' feces, which is not always so benign. Various wildlife carries different parasites that can be transmitted to other animals through their feces, such as worms. Also, if an animal has consumed poison or is sick, that too can cause significant health issues.

If a dog eats the poop from another dog that is sick or carries parasites, that too can make your dog very ill. Dogs that eat poop can suffer from GI issues such as vomiting or diarrhea, even when they eat their own poop.

Stopping a Dog from Eating Poop

There are a few different ways to stop your dog from eating poop, but it is first vital to find a root cause. If your dog has never been interested in eating poop but suddenly decides to take up the habit, it is best first to consult your vet.

When dogs suddenly change their eating habits, it may be a symptom of a more significant issue, such as Cushing's Disease.

Also, if this is a new behavior, consider any possible changes such as:

  • Change in food
  • Transition in the family – New baby, new dog, divorce, or death
  • Change in lifestyle – Change in the number of hours left home alone, more freedom in the house, a new house
  • Change in medication

Sometimes but not always, determining the trigger of what caused the change in your dog's eating habits can help resolve the issue. If not, here are some ideas to stop your dog from eating poop:

  • Clean the area multiple times a day – I pick up my backyard twice a day.
  • Supervise them when they are outside
  • Work on training the commands "off" or "leave it" and "drop."
  • Try a supplement if you suspect it could be a vitamin deficiency; try adding a dog-approved multivitamin.
  • Try feeding a small amount of pineapple to your dog's diet.
  • Try a commercial product that stops your dog from eating poop.

Remember, if you are trying a product that helps discourage your dog from eating poop, you must feed it to all of the dogs in the home.

Though it makes most dog parents cringe when they see their pup eating dog poop, know that you are not alone, and your dog is not behaving out of character for a canine. However, though it may be natural in the dog world, it can come with some health issues, so it is not a behavior you want to ignore. Speaking from experience, I know it can be a challenge to deal with, but you can stop your dog from eating poop with diligence and patience.

Meet The Author

Jessica Mabie author of Do Dogs Eat Poop?

Jessica Mabie specializes in writing about pets, travel, and food. She has always loved dogs, and, at the age of 14, she started volunteering at a neighborhood vet clinic. While at the U of M, she continued her work with dogs as an obedience trainer and vet tech. Jessica uses her experience as a volunteer with American Brittany Rescue as well as aiding in her writing. So, if you happen to see her out and about with her family don’t hesitate to say “Hi!”, (You’ll know it’s her since few are so daring as to have 4 Britts).

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