Why Do Dogs Eat Other Dogs’ Poop?

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Whether you caught your pup nibbling at another dog’s poop at a park or found them “cleaning up” after another dog at home, you probably found it gross.

Yet, at the same time, you might have wondered why they do it. 

Eating dog poop is entirely normal behavior for dogs[1], and most of them do it at one point or another in their life.

Continue reading this article to learn the reasons behind this strange behavior, whether it’s harmful to the dogs, and how to stop it.

Why Dogs Eat Other Dogs’ Poop

There are many reasons your pup may resort to eating other dogs’ poop. Here are some of the most common.

They are Nursing

One of the most common reasons for eating feces in adult dogs is nursing.

Mother dogs lick their pups’ feces away to keep them clean for the first three weeks of their lives.

They may do it later on, as well, to teach the pups how to do their own business. 

They Find it Interesting

Young pups who see their mum eat their poop may find it interesting to try it out on their own by eating the feces of their siblings.

They may also like to play with it, picking pieces of excrement up and carrying them around like a toy.

If the behavior is not addressed in time, they can take it well into adulthood.

Dietary Deficiency

Eating poop might be a sign of an unbalanced diet[2], which causes the dog to seek out nutrients they can find in other dogs’ poop.

It’s often accompanied by other symptoms of nutritional deficiency. A veterinarian can help you determine if this is the case.

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Underlying Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions can also lead to malabsorption and the conscious habit of seeking out and consuming feces in animals.

Diabetes, Cushing’s disease, and thyroid issues are just some of the most common conditions that encourage this behavior.

Related: White Specks in Dog Poop: Here’s What to Do

Is it Okay for Dogs to Eat Other Dogs’ Feces?

Is it Okay for Dogs to Eat Other Dogs' Feces?

If both canines are otherwise healthy, eating another dog’s feces won’t harm your pup.

Still, it’s a very inappropriate habit, which you really don’t want your dog to pick up.

You don’t want your little buddy licking your hand or face after nibbling on a piece of poop, either.

Can Dogs Get Sick From Eating Other Dogs’ Poop?

If your dog eats feces contaminated with parasites or harmful bacteria, they can become sick from eating it[3].

Eating smaller quantities of non-contaminated excrement usually has no consequences on their health.

The only exception from these are pups with inherently sensitive digestion or those who have diabetes and other debilitating conditions.

What to Do When Your Dog Eats Other Dogs’ Poop

What to Do When Your Dog Eats Other Dogs' Poop

Observe your dog to see if it shows any sign of intoxication or parasite infection in its stool while giving it plenty of water to drink.

If it does, take the dog to the vet right away, even if they are only mild symptoms.

The pup may only be sensitive to whatever was in the feces, but it’s still better to take precautions.

Need more detailed instructions? Check out our post on how to clean your dog’s mouth after he eats poop.

How Do I Get My Dog to Stop Eating Other Dogs’ Poop

There are several methods to get dogs to stop eating other dogs’ poop.

Make sure to investigate the reasons behind this behavior, so you can choose the solution that fits you and your canine friend the best.

Provide A Proper Diet

A well-balanced diet is essential for keeping your pup healthy and happy at all times, and it might get them to break the habit of consuming other dogs’ feces.

Have a vet assess your dog’s condition and determine which vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it needs.

Your pup may also need enzyme supplementation, especially if it’s a larger species that requires a diet rich in carbohydrates.

Encourage Taste Aversion

If the problem is in your own household, you can use commercial products that’ll make the dogs’ poop taste bitter.

However, since bad odors and tastes are often even more attractive to canines, this may not resolve the issue.

In that case, try making your taste aversion products from pepper, garlic, or chamomile.

Puppies ready to eat poop

Keep The Doggy Area Clean

Cleaning up after your pups have done the deed may seem like a demanding task, especially if you have several large dogs.

But, it’s one of the best ways to discourage them from eating each other’s poops. 

The good news is that you probably won’t have to continue to be vigilant forever.

After a while, the absence of feces will divert their attention to something else, and they won’t be interested in doing it after that, even if you don’t clean up right away.

Related: Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop?

Train Your Dog

Training the dog to listen to your commands is an essential part of their bonding and socialization process.

And one of the first things you want to teach them is not to approach other dogs (or their feces) using the “come” or “leave it” commands.

Doing this will reduce the likelihood of them nibbling other dogs’ poop when encountering them during your outdoor activities.

Redirect The Dogs Attention

For dogs that require a large amount of physical activity, stepping up the intensity of their exercise can help chase away boredom.

Let them run off their excess energy when needed, and try to play games with your pup on your walks so it doesn’t pay attention to what other dogs may be doing around them. 

Keep The Dog Close to You

While your dog is learning how to behave in an outside environment, you’ll need to keep them under constant supervision.

Unless you are in a dog park where the canines are allowed to move around more freely, you should keep your pup on a leash.

Larger dogs should wear a harness so you can have more control over them.

Final Thoughts

Whether you have young pups or adult canines, you may find them picking up a habit of eating other dogs’ poop.

There are several reasons for this behavior, including age and health conditions. 

If you have any concerns about your pup consuming dog feces, feel free to share them with your vet.

They can help you determine if there are any nutritional or medical issues and help you resolve them through diet and treatment.

Resources

  1. https://www.tendercareanimalhospital.net/dog-coprophagia.html#:~:text=Coprophagia%20is%20not%20an%20abnormal%20behavior%20for%20canines%20in%20certain%20situations
  2. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/dog-behavior-problems-coprophagia#:~:text=When%20adult%20dogs%20begin%20to%20eat%20stools%2C%20it%20may%20also%20be%20due%20to%20malabsorption%20of%20nutrients%20or%20to%20dietary%20nutritional%20deficiencies
  3. https://www.capitalgazette.com/lifestyles/ph-ac-cl-vet-0324-20150324-story.html

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