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Dogs with Coprophagai (Eating their Feces)

Dogs come from a history of foraging and scavenging, eating what they could find, including scavenging off of carcases killed by other predators and on occasion eating their own feces. When female dogs had puppies it was an instinctual act to eat her puppy's feces to prevent predators from smelling her babies. This kind of instinct is still in some dogs today. However there are other reasons for dogs eating their own poop and we look at what those are here as well as what you can do to stop it.

Reasons for Dogs Eating Their Feces

Apart from the above instinct this may stem from there are other reasons your dog may be doing this, some are medical, some are instinctive and some are learned from either their owner or other dogs.


Punished with poop –

If as a puppy you have rubbed their noses in their own feces as a form of punishment for doing it in the house, your dog may have learned completely the wrong lesson and think you are expecting him to eat it.

Saw other dogs do it –

It may be a learned behavior from another dog or puppy.

Learning about his environment –

Puppies like babies learn about their environment by putting things into their mouths. Most puppies realize poop is not pleasant and stop doing it. Some continue with it.

Low in nutrients –

If your dog is low in certain nutrients it needs it may lead to to this action.

Parasites –

Dogs with parasites or other intestinal contamination also sometimes start eating their own excrement.

Pancreas problems –

Sometimes the eating of feces indicates there is a problem with your dog's pancreas. EPI or exocrine pancreatic deficiency happens when the pancreas starts to break down and digestive chemicals are not being produced enough. This can happen as a result of disease, a hereditary condition or a blocked channel. When the pancreas is up to 80 to 90 per cent loss of function side effects can occur. One breed more prone to this is the German Shepherd. Other pancreas problems might include pancreatitis where it becomes inflamed. Dogs reaching their middle ages are more prone as are the breeds Schnauzers and Yorkshire Terriers.

Death in the family –

Interestingly in a family of dogs if one dies and there is still feces from it around the other dogs may eat some of it.

A lack in B vitamins –

This is believed among vets to be a common reason dogs do this.

To many supplements –

Dogs who are getting too many supplements that they are unable to process then eat the feces to them back to try and process them again.

Attention seeking –

If they are not getting the attention they need and they learn that eating their excrement gets them some attention for a while they will continue to do it.

Boredom –

Dogs who are not being adequately exercised or stimulated may start eating their poop out of boredom.

Malnourished –

If they are not being fed enough a dog will eat his own feces.

Sensitivity to proteins in certain oat grains – this is a more obscure cause.

What to Do if Your Dog Eats Their Own Poop

There are things you can do at home to try and discourage this behavior but you should also take him to your vet to be checked out in case there is a medical reason behind it so that the underlying cause can be treated too. However if your vet gives him a clean bill of health here are some suggestions on dealing with this issue.

Change his diet –

Changing a dog's diet is not a simple matter, they do not usually like it when we mess with what they eat but it may be a nutrition problem so try something of better quality. You could consult with your vet about what food they recommend.

Make sure he is eating enough. Check with your vet that how much you are feeding is enough. How much a dog should eat depends on age and size and how much activity he gets.

Pick up the poo –

When he goes pick it up and get rid of it. If it is not there to eat, he cannot do it!

Stop him –

Put yourself in a better position to pull him back, either on a leash or by the collar. Praise him when he turns away from it and if you want off a reward. He will learn that ignoring the excrement gets a tastier result than eating it. Use a clicker or a word to indicate no along with physical prevention. Always use praise when he turns away and reward him. Training him to stop eating his feces will take time, consistence and patience. You can also use distraction or diversion techniques.

Do not get cross, shout, physically push his nose in it, or spank him. Punishment will not stop him. This is not the way to train him.

Let her out more often –

If he is popping in the house then eating it, but does not do it outside, make sure you are letting him out often enough to do his business. Perhaps re-do some house training techniques. Puppies especially cannot hold it for long and need many trips outside. Avoid keeping them crated or alone for longer than 5 to 6 hours.


Add pumpkin to his food –

Pumpkin tastes good as food in the bowl but has a foul taste when passes as feces so may help make him stop because it tastes so repulsive!

Other things to add to his food –

Pineapple or pineapple juice, and spinach.

After the stool has passed –

sprinkle it with lemon juice or hot sauce.

Litter trays –

Keep cat litter trays away from dogs how like to eat poop.

Keep him engaged and active –

to avoid boredom make sure he gets enough stimulation.