HELP! My Dog Eats Poop

Bradley Phifer

Coprophagia is the official term for a dog who consumes either its own feces or another animal’s feces. It has long been believed a dog who eats his own feces is suffering from a nutrition deficiency, but the truth is we don’t truly know the cause of this behavior. In most cases the dog is simply displaying a normal dog behavior that is unappealing to their human owners.

If your dog enjoys dining on feces, your first call should be to his veterinarian. Ask the vet to perform a thorough physical exam and discuss with him your dogs feeding routine including amount of food per day, brand, and any supplements you are offering. Your veterinarian may recommend a change to the dog’s diet, or he may prescribe a medication or supplement to curb your dogs stool eating behavior.

Once your vet has ruled out any potential medical problems, you can begin focusing on resolving training your dog not to eat feces. The easiest way to ensure your dog won’t eat feces is to pick up the area where he eliminates each time he has a bowel movement.

Some owners have found success adding pineapple, pumpkin filling, or carrots to their dog’s diet, but this is not a guaranteed cure. Other deterrents such as For-bid have shown limited success.

If your dog doesn’t know a “leave-it” cue, train him to understand the word and begin to redirect him when he attempts to pick up stool.

If your dog is eating cat’s feces, it will be necessary for you to move the cat litter box to an area inaccessible to the dog. This will also prevent an ambush on your cat which could lead to litter box aversion. Punishing your dog typically doesn’t decrease their stool eating behavior because we are unable to administer the punishment each time the dogs performs the behavior. Direct supervision, proper sanitation, adjusting your dog’s diet, and allowing him to mature are the best answers we have at this time.

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