Dog Eating Poop — Why They Do It and How to Stop It

dog eating poop

Do you have a dog eating poop?

The technical term for eating feces is coprophagia. Some dogs like to eat cat poop, other animal’s poop, or they choose to dine on their own poop regularly.

Regardless of who’s poop your dog is eating, it’s gross.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), about 16 percent of dogs are “serious stool eaters.”

There are approximately nine million dogs globally, which equates to just under one and a half million dogs eating poop.

If your dog is guilty of eating poop, you wonder why, why, why they do it, and how to stop it.

Dog Eating Poop – Other Animals Poop

This scenario usually plays out in rural areas.

Dogs are not true carnivores, which is a myth that many people believe. Dogs and the wolves they evolved from are omnivores.

Omnivores eat meat, but they also can sustain themselves on plants, grasses, and berries.

Animals like cows, horses, deer, rabbits, et cetera, eat plant and grass materials, so their stool is really just processed grass and weeds, and it is attractive to some dogs.

Dog Eating Poop – Cat Poop

Cat poop eaten from the litter box is commonly referred to as Kitty Roca, as it bears a resemblance to Almond Roca.

Have you ever noticed cat poop remnants on or in-between your dog’s teeth? That is known as a little pinch between the cheek and gums.

All kidding aside, it’s assumed that dogs are attracted to cat poop because it smells and tastes like cat food.

Dog Eating Poop – Their Own or Another Dog’s Poop

dog eating poop

Why dogs eat their own stool is a little bit more of a mystery, but there are several theories.

A lot of dogs will eat poop as puppies. Mother dogs may instinctively eat their puppies poop to keep a whelping area clean and free of parasite infestation. Puppies may mimic this behavior, but the majority will grow out of this.

Some believe dogs eat their poop because there are nutrition and vitamin deficiencies in their diet. There is no scientific evidence this is true.

It doesn’t hurt to reassess your dog’s food or make an appointment with your vet to rule out the possibility of a condition where your dog’s food is passing through them before being digested.

The most conclusive theory of why dogs eat their poop is behavioral:

  • Dogs that are kept in a confined area may eat their poop to clean-up after themselves.
  • Dogs that are punished or scolded for pooping in the house, or the wrong place, may eat their poop to hide the evidence.
  • A dog that is fed where they relieve themselves may associate the smell of poop with food.
  • Last but not least is attention. A typical reaction to seeing your dog eat poop is to yell and discourage the behavior verbally. Even though this reaction is negative attention, it is still attention. Try not to overreact. Be firm with displeasure but stay calm so you don’t encourage this unwanted behavior.

Some dogs eat poop only during the winter months when the stool is firmer or frozen compared to warmer months. Other dogs aren’t as selective.

How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Poop

dog eating poop


A dog eating poop ultimately boils down to opportunity. If they can’t get to it, they can’t eat it. Simpler said than done in most cases.

If your dog is eating animal or cat poop from yards or in rural settings, you need to restrict their access. Keep them on a leash, on a long-line, or use an electronic collar (after being adequately trained on it) to correct them from snacking remotely.

If your dog is eating from the cat box, relocate the litter box to an area that your cat can access, but your dog can’t.

Place the litter box in a room and install a removable walk-through gate that has a cat door in it.

walk through dog gate

Another option is to place the litter box in a room or a closet and permanently install a cat door.

kitty pass door

Use Pinterest as a resource for tips, tricks, hacks, and inspiration to find a win-win solution for keeping your litter box out of sight and out of reach from your dog.

The most challenging scenario to stop is your dog eating their poop or a siblings poop.

Picking up the poop prevents the behavior at the moment, but it doesn’t correct the behavior. The next time you aren’t looking or don’t get to the poo pile quickly enough, your dog may strike.

To change the behavior, you have to stop them from eating poop or make their poop unappealing, so they no longer want it.

The first method is to douse their poop with Black Pepper, Cayenne Pepper, or Tabasco sauce. The trick is to apply liberally to ensure it causes an unpleasant reaction.

Successfully using this method once or twice won’t break the habit. This will require a commitment on your part to spice up your dog’s poop as often as you can and for as long as it takes.

The second method is to work from the inside out.

Use additives to your dog’s meals that produce a bitter smell and taste to your dog’s poop or try stool eating deterrent chews.

stop dog eating poop

Food items you can mix into your dog’s meals that come out bitter are meat tenderizers like Adolph’s Unseasoned Tenderizer or fresh pineapple (avoid canned pineapple because of the sugar content).

Or you can buy products specifically made for this problem.

stop dog eating poop

If you have more than one dog, you need to treat everyone’s meals so everyone’s poop is bitter and unappealing.

Again, you will need to commit to this method, like the first one, to try to break your dog’s poop-eating habit.

If one method doesn’t work, don’t give up. Try another product or brand until you figure out what works on your dog.

Eating poop is gross, causes bad breath, and can cause intestinal tract issues due to parasites like Coccidiosis.

If your dog is experiencing diarrhea, this is the first sign that something could be wrong. If the diarrhea is watery, bloody, or contains mucus, it’s not likely to clear-up on its own. Scrape up a sample to take to your vet and have it tested. Better to play it safe and get your kid on antibiotics asap if need be.

If you love a dog who loves to eat poop, remember you aren’t alone. A million-plus people are struggling with the same issue.

Changing this behavior may take time, and your dog may have relapses. Stay vigilant and don’t give up.




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