Learn about members of the Animal Kingdom

Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

dog eating poop

Do you wonder why your pooch is eating its own waste, and you don’t know what you can do to stop this behavior? Let’s see why do dogs eat poop?

Well, this article was created to help you better understand why do dogs eat poop, and what you can do to stop this disgusting behavior.

What is Coprophagia?

Coprophagia is only a fancy word used to name a very unpleasant habit present in some dogs that have a habit of eating their own or other’s feces.

Despite the disgusting habit, you have to know that your dog is not affected by this, except the feces that are contaminated with parasites.

However, coprophagia is mainly caused by three main reasons: medical, behavioral and nutritional.

1. Medical Issues

A few medical conditions such as: exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, pancreatitis, intestinal infections, malabsorption syndromes and overfeeding with fatty meals (foods that are very high in fat content) can lead to such a disgusting habit.

The first thing to do when you notice that your dog starts eating its waste or the waste of another animal, is to call your veterinarian.

Some medical tests could find the problem pretty quickly, if there is a medical condition causing this behavior.

Behavioral Issues

There are several behavioral reasons that are considered by experts in the field as being behind this disgusting habit, and among them we can mention: attention-seeking behavior, mimicry, maternal behavior, dominance behavior, reinforcement behavior and also a nutritional reason.

Attention-seeking behavior

Some dogs when they feel like that they don’t get enough attention from their owners, will start eating their own waste. Once the owner discovers this nasty behavior, will try to correct them, and even if this is only negative attention, is still attention considered by dogs.

In this case, experts consider that you can simply ignore the problem while trying to spend more time with your dog, and hoping that after a while, the nasty behavior will go away by itself.


We are talking in this case about a learned behavior, and this is usually specific to dogs that spent time in a shelter.

In the shelter, there are many dogs with different behaviors. If your dog observed another dog eating its own waste or the waste of another animal, it may copy and adopt this behavior as its own.

If you have a dog that spent time in a shelter and learned there the nasty behavior, the only thing to do is to clean up after your dog more often.

Your dog will understand that once out, waste is cleaned up right away, so it might try to help you.

To avoid this, after feeding the dog, you should spend some time with it in the yard (like when walking outside in the park), and when you see the waste coming out, try to clean it right away.

The dog will understand this way that you are the one that takes care of the waste, and over time it could drop this disgusting behavior.

Maternal behavior

This is an instinctive behavior specific to mother dogs. Instinctively, they clean the bottoms of their pups to keep the nesting area clean, and this will keep away unwanted predators.

As a mama dog, she certainly don’t want predators coming into the nesting area where her pups are vulnerable and exposed.

Dominance behavior

Some dogs that consider themselves alpha dogs may adopt such a nasty behavior just to show that they are top dogs, so they can eat other dog’s waste when they want.

This will work only against non dominant dogs.

Reinforcement behavior

In this case, the dog starts developing a taste for poop and will start eating its own waste or the waste produced by other animals.

dog waiting to eat other dog's waste

Dog trying to eat another dog’s waste.

Once they realize that they like the taste of poop, they will continue to do it, because this will light up the positive reinforcement centers in their brain, and they will continue the unpleasant behavior somewhat compulsively.


Maybe you are not aware of this, but you may be feeding a low-quality food to your dog, food with low nutritional value, or we are simply talking about an unbalanced diet altogether.

Dogs with unbalanced diet will try to overcome this by eating their own waste or the waste produced by other animals because they consider that in poop they can find the missing nutrients.

What you can do in this case is to upgrade the food to make sure that your dog is getting all the nutritional requirements that it needs and starts having a balanced diet.

What Can You Do To Stop Coprophagia?

Giving the fact that we could talk here about medical issues or behavioral reasons, the first thing to do is to call your vet doctor.

Only after you are 100% sure that any medical issues that could cause this behavior were excluded, only then you can try by yourself, to do something to stop this disgusting behavior in your dog.

The only thing that seems to work all the time in this case is to clean up after your dog.
If there is no poop available, your dog will not be tempted to eat it.

You can do this by going or staying outside with the dog after feeding it.

Dogs are used to poop a few minutes after eating, so if you stay outside with the dog after feeding it, you will have the chance to clean up after it once the waste is produced.

Cleaning the waste produced by your dog is definitely your job as a dog owner, so even if you are outside in the park or inside your own yard, you have to clean up after the dog right after you see the waste coming out.

This will not only keep the yard clean, but will also stop such a disgusting behavior.

You have to keep the place clean all the time, especially if you have more than one dog, because if one of them starts eating waste, the other might copy the behavior, which obviously you don’t want.


You can stop coprophagia only if you clean up after the dog right after you see that waste is being produced.

Don’t let the dog waste sit in your yard because this thing will not solve the problem. Only a yard that is kept clean all the time could stop such a disgusting behavior in your dog.

Other Ways To Stop Coprophagia

Vet clinics do have some products that could make waste unpalatable.

You can add meat tenderizer to the dog’s food to make the waste unpalatable. Something more natural that you can add to the dog’s food, which will create a waste that is unpalatable is pineapple or pineapple juice.

You can make the waste unpalatable also by taking time to go out and sprinkling hot sauce on the dog’s waste.

However, if you have time to go outside and make the waste unpalatable, I’m sure that you can simply clean the waste and save the hot sauce for you.

Can Coprophagia Affect Your Dog?

Coprophagia is not affecting the dog very much despite the disgusting habit, it might actually affect you if you keep the dog inside the house.

However, as a dog owner, you always need to be aware of the fact that eating poop is not a normal behavior for your dog, especially if the waste is infested with parasites.

Because you don’t know if there are parasites in waste, you need to try something to stop your pooch from eating poop.

Cleaning after the dog is the best way to teach your dog that you are the one that takes care of the waste, and not him or her.


Let’s say that you are taking your dog for a walk along your neighborhood or you take it down to the dog park, and your dog find and starts eating the waste of another dog.

Coming in contact with parasites such as roundworm or hookworm while eating dog waste or parasites like Toxoplasma gondii when eating cat waste, can cause a disease called toxoplasmosis in your dog, and this could be extremely harmful to your pooch.

If needed, keep your dog in leach and try to teach it that eating waste is a bad thing, and keep an eye on it all the time to avoid a possible disaster.

At home, keep the yard clean all the time, and this way you might have a chance to get rid of this disgusting and possibly unhealthy behavior in your dog.

Article written by:

Darius Savin is a lifelong animal lover and protector and the chief editor of Checkmember. He writes and edits articles and is also the creator of the distribution maps for all the creatures featured here.