I love my dogs like they’re my children, but I’m not oblivious to the fact that sometimes they do things that I don’t like.
Like when I came home from running errands one day to find my Goldendoodle, Maggie, eating everything inside our tipped over garbage can, for example.
The majority of the time, dogs don’t mean it when they do something wrong (such as pulling on the leash). They only sometimes do gross things on purpose, like when they want a snack and I accidentally leave the garbage can unlocked.
As much as I adore my pups, their intentions can get lost in translation.
That was especially true in the rare moments where I found my dogs eating their own poop. Or attempting to.
I managed to stop them most of the time.
The first attempt they made to have a poop snack, I brushed it off as my dogs being a little nuts. They got a bath so their mouths and paws were clean (here’s how to clean your dog’s mouth after eating poop) and we all called it a night.
I tried to erase the memory from my brain, but it’s still there to this day.
Their second attempt the next day got me wondering what looked so appetizing about their latest gift to Mother Nature.
I spent some time researching and found that the answer to my dogs’ issue with poop is way more common than I’d originally thought.
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Why Do Dogs Eat Poop? (Coprophagia)
The good news is that there are a number of reasons for dogs to eat poop, which range from not so bad to mildly serious. It depends on the age of the dog and what their lifestyle looks like.
The best way to tell what your dog needs is to look at their life as a whole and see if anything seems off.
Puppies and younger dogs tend to eat poop because they’re curious about it or confuse it with their food. After a gentle correction, they’ll realize that their poop is better left alone.
While they may accidentally step or roll in it, they probably won’t eat it again.
Eating poop out of curiosity, boredom, or the desire for attention is so common that it’s been given a scientific name.
Known as coprophagia, eating poop can be a behavioral issue that can be altered with the correct training, and most often appears in younger dogs.
Older dogs who have been caught eating their poop may have an undiagnosed health issue.
They’ll be more in tune with what their bodies need, and the way they deal with these needs is by eating. Some dogs try to eat human food or yard debris, while others will go straight for their poop.
Your vet will be able to tell the cause more clearly from stool or blood tests.
The sight of your dog eating poop is disturbing (and a bit gross!), but not necessarily alarming. The first time you catch them exhibiting this behavior, try not to worry too much.
You only need to get concerned if it’s a repeat offense.
While you probably can’t watch your dog during every minute of the day, you can still save them from eating their own poop.
Try out these remedies to see which ones work best for your dog:
Supervising your dog during bathroom breaks. Train them to immediately come to you after they’re done using the bathroom. Reward them with a treat and take them inside. They’ll quickly learn this as a new habit and forget about eating what they left in the yard. (This course has a great section on coprophagia and how to train your dog appropriately)
Natural Home Remedies
Take a look in your pantry to see what you have at home. Apple cider vinegar relieves hydrochloric acid deficiency (among other uses, such as dealing with fleas), and raw pineapple makes the stool taste acidic and can prevent your dog from ever trying it again.
Over the Counter Products
Your vet will be able to recommend medications your dog may need, but you can always try getting a different dog food brand. Aim for a food high in fiber, so the protein gets absorbed easily and makes the poop taste worse to your dog.
We’ve made a list of the best coprophagia deterrents for dogs to make your search easier.
In the end, my dogs just needed to take a minute to reflect on the fact that we don’t eat poop in our house. After some corrective training, they forgot all about it.
I feel comfortable letting them out into the backyard now without my supervision.
Try the training with your dog first, then move on to changing up what they eat.
If all else fails, your vet will know exactly how to help your dog. It’s smart to start with what you can do at home to help your dog before taking them to the vet’s clinic for tests.
Do dogs grow out of eating poop?
They can! Younger pups will probably just be curious about the taste of poop, so if they aren’t immediately turned away by the taste, they can be easily trained to never eat it again.
Is it harmful for a dog to eat poop?
Not if it’s their own. Their own poop will pass right through them again. Poop from other animals is what should be concerning. That stool could contain toxins, viruses, or parasites. Check with your vet if your dog has eaten poop from other animals.
Why is my dog eating poop all of a sudden?
There could be a number of different reasons. If they’re a puppy, it’s probably just curiosity. If they’re older, they could have an issue with absorbing the nutrients in their food.
When will my dog stop eating her puppies’ poop?
Mothers want their pups to live in a clean environment, which is why they eat their puppies’ poop. This is completely normal and safe for them to do, and it should stop by the time puppies reach the age of eight weeks old.