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My dog eats feces! What can I do?

Strange but true.

When I took my dog for a walk she would love to gobble up the horse stuff on the trail. I found this habit deplorable until I learned that many dogs will eat feces. 

Does your dog or puppy eat its own feces or maybe that of another animal?  Odds are pretty good that seeing this behavior makes you sick.  You may (or may not) feel better knowing that this isn’t just happening to you.  There is even a scientific name for the phenomena – caprophagia.  That’s right; this article is all about your dog’s love of eating poop.

You must be wondering why your dog will do such a thing. Then, of course, you want to find answers to stop the behavior.


Some cases are related to a medical condition, but usually this is a behavioral issue.  I say “Issue” but to some it may seem much more like a “problem.”  Remember, the dog displaying the behavior sees no problem with it at all!  We may not get it, but this is just something that dogs like doing.


Some dogs start eating feces as a result of a medical condition like diabetes, thyroid disease, Cushing’s or because of drug treatments like steroids.  If an adult dog begins to eat stool out of the blue this may be an indicator that it should receive medical attention.


Dogs with the habit of eating feces should receive regular veterinarian checkups and follow a strict worming routine.  Year long heart medication can also protect against intestinal parasites in dogs.


Puppies often display coprophagia. This is usually a habit that they outgrow as they age.  Young puppies left alone in an unclean environment like a crate or kennel may just get bored and decide to eat poop as a form of play or simply to investigate.  Puppies may also learn to use feces eating as a way to get attention.  The puppy thinks “If I eat this poop my owner will grab it to play chase!”


Some believe that puppies are just copying the habits of their mom who will ingest the puppy’s feces while it is in her care.  Regardless of the cause, early intervention will help to reduce the chances of the behavior turning into a long term habit.


Prevention is the simplest fix.  Prevent the behavior from occurring at all.  This requires extra care and attention on your part but it is worth it in the end.  Keep the yard free of any waste.  Remember, if there isn’t any poop for the dog to eat then there won’t be a problem!


Accompanying pets eats feces “right as it’s laid” on bathroom breaks and keeping them on a lead during bathroom time will help them kick the habit.  Right after the puppy does its duty play with it using a toy or treat as a distraction.  It will take time but in the long run the dog will forget about eating the poop.  Once play time is over walk the puppy back inside and then go clean up the mess.  If your dog is eating the feces of another pet use this same routine.  Accompany the offending pet while it is outside and keep it on a lead.  After the other animal has relieved itself and the mess is cleaned you can let the offender off to play.



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