I often get asked by frustrated (and slightly repulsed) dog owners as to why their adorable dog is eating poop and how to stop a dog eating poo.
Vets refer to the habit as Coprophagia and, while the thought of it is enough to make our stomach churn, remember, dogs are frequently attracted to the smell of faeces when they’re out and about so it clearly has a very different appeal to our furry friends.
Reasons for dogs eating poop
Fish-based dog food can create poo with a stronger aroma, cat poo is higher in protein and therefore can be enticing to dogs, while other dog foods have very high palatability so may still smell good after the fact, if you know what I mean!
While a dog eating poo is common in puppies and sometimes considered part of their normal environmental exploration, it’s something that you don’t want to encourage.
In adults, both behavioural and medical causes need to be explored. Medical causes can be ruled out by your vet with a full examination and possible blood and faecal testing.
Underfeeding or feeding a poor quality diet may cause them to instinctively turn to poop to get what they need.
Gastrointestinal disease including malabsorption, pancreatitis and intestinal worms can also lead to malnutrition, vitamin and mineral deficiency.
If your vet has ruled out intestinal parasites or other gastrointestinal illnesses, hormonal diseases such as diabetes, cushing’s disease and thyroid disease may need to be investigated.
Boredom and anxiety can lead to a number of undesired behaviours including Coprophagia.
Solutions for a dog eating poo
To help with boredom and anxiety, try to provide lots of environmental enrichment, things like interactive toys, treat dispensing puzzles and long lasting chews.
If you suspect anxiety to be the cause then talk to your vet or qualified trainer about possible solutions.
In the meantime, preventing the behaviour is very important as dog poop is a great source of potentially zoonotic pathogens (like salmonella, campylobacter, roundworm and hookworm).
Ensure that you clean up any poo immediately and maintain hand hygiene.
You can also try adding a little pineapple juice to their food, it seems to discourage quite a few dogs!
Importantly, make sure that worm and other parasite treatments are up to date. With NexGard SPECTRA, your dog will receive the most complete parasite protection available against external and internal parasites, in just one monthly tasty chew.
Punishing your dog for eating poop could also make the problem worse, so it is really important to understandy why the reasons for your dog eating poo, and take the appropriate measures to help.
Dr Melissa Meehan is a highly experienced and respected veterinary surgeon with over 14 years experience. Dr Melissa obtained her Members in Small Animal Medicine through examination in 2008 and now runs her own veterinary ophthalmology service.