Why is my dog eating poop?


Catching your dog eating poop is puzzling at best and stomach-churning at worst – here’s what to know

Why is my dog eating poop?

Quick facts

  • Eating poop is normal for dogs – nearly a quarter of them have eaten poop at least once.
  • Most dogs eat poop seemingly for the joy of it – while others do it out of hunger, stress or boredom.
  • Understanding the reason for your dog’s behaviour can help you find a solution.


It’s a gross moment that so many dog owners have experienced – catching your dog snacking on poop.

But don’t panic, eating poop or ‘coprophagia’ is more common in dogs than you’d think. So much so that vets now class this as a ‘normal’ behaviour.

Up to 23% of dogs have eaten poop at least once. Of those dogs, 16% eat poop frequently, according to a survey of over 1,500 dogs by the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California-Davis.

But why would they even want to eat it? Is it bad for them? Here are a few reasons your dog might indulge in this particular delicacy and what you can do about it.

Why does your dog eat poop?

Poop seems like a wholly unappetising snack to us. But the truth is that eating poop is normal behaviour for a lot of animals, according to the experts.

And, your dog might have even inherited the behaviour from their wolf ancestors. Besides eating poop purely because they want to, here’s what else might be going on in your dog’s mind.

1. They’re copying other dogs

Dogs are more likely to eat poop if they live with other dogs, found the survey. This might be because dogs can pick up learned behaviours from their peers.

2. They’re bored

Dogs may simply eat poop out of boredom. A study by Utrecht University found that dogs can do it even if they’ve got plenty of toys and chews.

3. They’re stressed

Chronic stress could also be the trigger – the same university found a link between stress and anxiety and eating poop, as well as repetitive behaviours and grooming themselves more often.

If you’re worried that your dog might be very stressed, then speak to a vet or registered behaviourist.

4. They’re hungry

Eating poop could be a sign your dog is hungry. Remember that some medications, like steroids, can also change your dog’s appetite.

5. They’re a mother

It’s completely normal for mother dogs to eat their puppies’ poop to keep the den clean.


What does it mean if your dog eats their own poop?

Plenty of dogs are also known to be partial to their own poop, and they might be doing it for all the same reasons above. Puppies will often eat their own poop out of curiosity, and then grow out of it.

On the bright side, your dog can’t pick up a new parasite from themselves. But if they’ve already got an infection, they can re-infect themselves with larvae.


Is eating poop really bad for your dog?

If your dog eats their own poop or the poop of another healthy dog, they’ll probably be okay.

Poop can harbour a lot of nasty bacteria, but the biggest worry is parasites. The larvae of tapeworms, flatworms and other parasites live in faeces and can infect your dog and make them sick.

In general, it’s a good idea to let your vet know if your dog regularly eats poop. If it’s a brand new behaviour for them, that’s also a reason to book an appointment with your vet.

If you ever notice symptoms like unexpected weight loss, diarrhoea, vomiting, or a change in their coat, make an appointment.


How can you stop your dog from eating poop?

It’s never a good idea to punish your dog for eating poop. Remember, they’re just being a normal dog.

That said, there are some strategies to help them cut down on this behaviour.

1. Distract them

Keep an eye on your dog when they go outside. When you notice they’ve pooped or you think there might be a patch of cat or fox poop coming up, call them over to you and reward them with a treat to sidetrack them.

2. Remove any temptation

Keep on top of scooping up their poop, especially if your dog spends time outside on their own.

3. Train them to drop it

Make sure your dog knows the vocal command to ‘leave it’ or ‘drop it’ if they don’t already.

4. Occupy your dog

Try giving your dog chews and other long-lasting treats to occupy their attention. Check out our raw chews like duck necks and chicken wings to keep them munching for longer.

5. Feed your dog more often

Try upping the number of daily meals you feed your dog. Nature’s Menu’s nuggets are portioned into small chunks that you can space out over the day without increasing their daily food allowance overall.

6. Stay cool

Pavlov was onto something. If you react every time your dog eats poop, they might start to associate the action with getting attention – according to a review published by the Veterinary Record.

Try not to react strongly and instead distract your dog with a treat or training cue.

Dogs and humans don’t usually agree on what’s gross. But eating poop is especially hard to empathise with.

However, unless you’ve noticed other symptoms or are worried about your dog, this is also a completely normal behaviour.


Eating poop FAQs

How can I stop my dog from eating cat poop?

Some dogs also enjoy sampling from the litter box. Try these tips if you’re a cat owner too:

  • Move their litter tray behind a cat-flapped door
  • Keep it high up where your dog can’t reach it
  • Invest in a litter box only your cat can get into.

Is my dog missing something from their diet if they eat poop?

In rare cases, eating poop could be a sign of a nutritional deficiency, but this isn’t likely if your dog is eating a complete and balanced diet.


How do I clean my dog’s mouth after they’ve eaten poop?

Try using a wet cloth to clean the outside of your dog’s mouth, and a dog toothbrush for their teeth. You can also offer them some fresh water and a natural, raw chew.

Try our personalised meal plans with high-quality raw ingredients – including fresh fruits and vegetables – to help keep your dog healthy and happy.