Dog Smelling Poop

Why Is My Dog Eating Poop?


Understanding and Addressing Coprophagia in Dogs


Discovering that your dog has a penchant for eating poop can be both alarming and bewildering for any pet owner. This behavior, scientifically referred to as coprophagia, is not only unpleasant but can also raise concerns about your dog’s health and well-being. Why do some dogs partake in this distasteful habit, and what can be done to stop it? This article dives into the roots of coprophagia, examining its causes, potential health risks, and strategies to prevent it, ensuring your dog maintains a healthy and palatable diet.

The Reasons Behind Coprophagia

1. Nutritional Deficiencies:

Dogs may turn to eat feces if their diet lacks certain nutrients. A poor-quality diet can lead to malabsorption issues, prompting dogs to seek out alternate sources of nutrition, even in their poop or that of other animals.

  • Source: American Kennel Club (AKC) – The AKC notes that inadequate or imbalanced diets might lead some dogs to eat their own poop to recover nutrients they’re missing.
2. Behavioral Issues:

Coprophagia can sometimes stem from behavioral issues such as anxiety, boredom, or attention-seeking. Dogs left alone for long periods may eat poop out of boredom or stress, while others might do it to elicit a reaction from their owners.

  • Source: Veterinary Centers of America (VCA) – According to VCA, behaviors like anxiety, boredom, or seeking attention can drive dogs to eat feces. It’s often seen in dogs lacking mental stimulation or adequate exercise.

Certain health conditions, including parasitic infections, diseases causing increased appetite, or conditions that lead to malabsorption of nutrients, can lead to coprophagia. It’s essential to rule out these issues with the help of a veterinarian.

  • Source: PetMD – PetMD highlights that conditions such as parasitic infections or diseases that increase appetite, like diabetes, can lead dogs to eat feces as a symptom.
4. Instinctive Behavior:

In some cases, eating poop is an instinctive behavior passed down from a dog’s ancestors. Mother dogs will often lick their puppies to encourage defecation and then consume the feces to keep the den clean and reduce the risk of attracting predators.

  • Source: Psychology Today – Explains the evolutionary perspective, stating that mothers eating their puppies’ feces to keep the den clean may be an instinctive behavior passed down through generations.

The Risks

Strategies to Prevent Coprophagia

Improve Diet and Nutrition: Ensuring your dog has a well-balanced diet that meets all their nutritional needs is crucial. Consult with a veterinarian to determine if your dog’s diet could be contributing to their coprophagia and to make any necessary adjustments.

2. Keep the Environment Clean: Regularly cleaning your yard and promptly removing feces will help minimize your dog’s opportunities to engage in coprophagia. For cat owners, keeping the litter box clean and out of your dog’s reach is also essential.

3. Provide Mental Stimulation and Physical Exercise: Engaging your dog in regular physical activity and providing them with mental stimulation through toys, puzzles, and training can help alleviate boredom and reduce stress-related behaviors.

4. Training and Supervision: Training your dog to respond to commands like “Leave it” can effectively prevent coprophagia. Supervising your dog during walks and outdoor time is also crucial to intervene before they engage in the behavior.

5. Seek Professional Help: If the behavior persists despite your efforts, consulting with a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer can provide tailored strategies and rule out underlying health issues.


While coprophagia in dogs can be a concerning and unpleasant behavior, understanding its causes is the first step toward addressing it. By implementing the strategies outlined above and consulting with professionals when necessary, you can help your dog overcome this habit, ensuring their health and your peace of mind.


Q: Is coprophagia in dogs a sign of a serious health issue?

A: While not always indicative of serious health problems, coprophagia can sometimes be a symptom of underlying health issues. It’s essential to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any medical causes.

Q: Can coprophagia in dogs be cured?

A: Yes, with the right approach, including dietary adjustments, environmental management, and behavioral training, it is possible to curb or eliminate this behavior in most dogs.

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