Stool eating, or coprophagy, is something that none of us want to think about. It’s disgusting! Unfortunately, many dogs eat poop at some point, so it’s important to know what causes stool eating and how to discourage the habit. Stool eating can be caused by a number of different factors, including natural instinct, behavioral problems, stress, digestive/nutritional issues, or health conditions.

Natural Instinct

Dogs may start eating poop because of natural instinct. In fact, stool eating is quite normal for momma dogs and their puppies. Momma dogs will eat their puppies’ poop to keep the area clean and to protect her puppies from predators. This is all a part of natural instinct. Because of natural behavior and curiosity, puppies will also start eating their own poop. Puppies are eager to explore the world around them and put everything in their mouths. 

Behavior and Stress

Dogs may eat poop if they are anxious, bored, or stressed. Certain methods of housetraining can cause anxiety and prompt a dog to eat its own stool. If a dog is punished too harshly when he has an accident in the house, he may eat the stool to hide the evidence. It’s important not to punish or scare your dog for eating poop. This will only cause more stress and confusion. Sometimes dogs eat their poop simply to get attention from their owners. In this situation, it’s best not to overreact or the behavior will likely continue. 

Health Conditions

There are a few health conditions that can cause a dog to eat its own stool. These include diabetes, pancreatic or intestinal disorders, thyroid disease, Cushing’s disease, malnutrition from parasites and more. It is best to rule out these issues by having your dog examined by a veterinarian. 

Digestive or Nutritional Issues

Many people think that dogs eat poop because their food is difficult to digest or doesn’t contain enough nutrients. It’s important to note that many cheap pet foods contain ingredients that are difficult to digest, so these ingredients often come out of the other end undigested. This causes the poop to smell and taste similar to the food, and many dogs find this appealing. 

If this is the issue, it may help to feed your dog a higher quality food that is easier to digest and contains more nutrients. Giving your dog a digestive enzyme may also help. If your dog is eating the poop of another pet, then you would give the digestive enzyme to that pet, as well. This will help ensure that food is completely digested and all nutrients from the food are absorbed. In the end, the stool will contain fewer nutrients and ingredients, so it won’t taste and smell as appealing to your dog. 

How to Stop Stool Eating

One way to stop your dog from eating poop is through training him and managing his environment. Keep your yard and your dog’s living area free of poop, and clean up poop immediately after your dog goes. Be sure to clean up other pets’ poop, as well, including the cat’s litter box if you have one. You can also try training your dog to come for a treat after he goes, so he won’t be tempted to eat the stool instead. Putting your dog on a leash and distracting him after he goes may help too. 

Taste-aversion products can also be very helpful when it comes to stool eating. These products generally include a variety of ingredients which make the stool taste and smell disgusting to the dog. Stop Stool Eating from Thomas Labs® was formulated to do just this. This product helps reduce body, stool and breath odor; excessive gas; stool eating; and loose stool. With ingredients such as kelp, parsley leaf, peppermint leaf, algae, and garlic flavoring, Stop Stool Eating changes the smell, taste, and texture of the poop. These easy-to-administer tablets help make the poop less appealing, which deters dogs from eating their own waste. Plus, it helps support the digestive process and tract. 

If your dog has a stool-eating habit, try to determine the cause and stop the habit as soon as possible. Remember to be patient! Breaking a habit takes time and dedication. 

The materials and information provided on this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian if you have medical questions concerning diagnosis, treatment, therapy, or medical attention.