Dogs Eating Poop (Coprophagia): One of the Strangest Dog Behavior Problems

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Dogs Eating Poop (Coprophagia)
One of the Strangest Dog Behavior Problems

“If your dog is eating poop you should have him seen by a veterinarian.”

Dogs eating poop, or coprophagia, is one of the strangest dog behavior problems. There are a number of theories about why dogs eat poop but there probably isn't a definitive answer. Different dogs may eat poop for different reasons. Fortunately, there are some ways you can try to prevent your dog from engaging in this unappealing habit.

Why Dogs Eat Poop

Dogs Eating Poop

Some theories about why dogs eat poop include a nutritional deficiency of some kind; mother dogs who develop the habit after cleaning up after puppies; and dogs who have Pica, which is a behavioral condition in which dogs eat non-food items.

They can do this because they're bored, to get attention, for psychological reasons — and the list goes on. There could possibly even be veterinary medical reasons to explain why your dog wants to eat poop.

What to do about Coprophagia

If your dog is eating poop you should have him seen by a veterinarian. Your vet will likely run some tests, such as a complete blood panel, to see if there is anything physically wrong with your dog or if he's missing any kind of nutrient in his diet that could explain the problem. It's always great if there is an easy fix to a problem like this such as adding some vitamins to your dog's diet or changing dog food.

However, in most cases your veterinarian probably won't find much wrong with your dog. Coprophagia is usually not easily explained. If your veterinarian doesn't find anything wrong with your dog you will need to find ways to try to prevent your dog from eating poop.

Stop Dogs Eating Poop

There are several different ways you can try to stop your dog from eating poop. (Notice the word "try." It is not easy to stop a dog who is determined to eat poop.) The usual method and the first thing to try is to add something to your dog's food that will make the poop unappealing to your dog.

There are a number of products, such as Forbid, which are stool-eating preventives. They contain ingredients that make the poop smell and taste bad to your dog. Other old-time favorites to add to your dog's food which do the same thing are pineapple and meat tenderizer. They have a similar effect and work with some dogs. However, some dogs will go right on eating the poop.

It will help matters if you will scoop your yard (or where you walk your dog) as soon as there is any poop to scoop. This will keep your dog from having anything to snack on.

Some owners also resort to putting a basket-type muzzle on their dogs so their dogs can't eat poop in the yard. Most dogs don't like these muzzles, of course, but their owners don't like getting kissed by a dog who's been eating poop either.

There is a slight difference between dogs who eat their own poop and dogs who eat poop from other animals (like cats). Coprophagia primarily refers to dogs who eat their own poop. Most dogs do find cat litter box crunchies irresistible (aka, "kittie roca"). Some dogs will roll in poop, carcasses or other material left by other animals but this is a different behavior likely inherited from wolves.

Hope for the Poop Eater - and for YOU

It is possible to stop dogs eating poop but it's usually not easy, especially if the behavior has become a habit. Try different products on your dog's food and see if one of them prevents your dog from eating poop. Keep your yard scooped. With luck these methods will work for you and stop your dog from eating poop.

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