How to Stop a Dog From Eating Poop: The Definitive Guide

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Have you ever caught your dog eating poop and wondered why they would engage in such an unsavory behavior? You’re not alone.

Many dog owners face this issue and struggle to put an end to it. Addressing this problem is essential for your dog’s health and well-being.

In this comprehensive guide on how to stop a dog from eating poop, we’ll dive into the reasons behind coprophagia, the health risks associated with it, and effective strategies to prevent it.

Short Summary

  • Understand potential causes and provide positive reinforcement for proper toileting.
  • Improve diet with supplements and dietary changes, manage environment, use training tools/techniques & natural remedies to prevent coprophagia in dogs.
  • Seek help from a behaviorist or veterinarian if signs of anxiety or sickness are present.

Understanding Coprophagia: Why Dogs Eat Poop

The term coprophagia refers to the consumption of feces, a behavior exhibited by some dogs that can be both puzzling and concerning for their owners. I’m confused as to why dogs eat poop. Is there some logic behind this behavior? The causes of coprophagia may include instinctive behavior, dietary deficiencies, and behavioral issues. By understanding these underlying reasons, you’ll be better equipped to address your dog’s poop eating behavior and keep them healthy and happy.

There are several strategies you can use to help prevent coprophagia. For instance, you have done a description of your experience.

Natural Instincts

While it might seem repulsive to us, dogs may eat poop due to certain natural instincts. Some reasons why dogs eat poop include:

  1. Mother dogs eat their puppies’ feces to keep their den clean and promote urinary tract health.
  2. Dogs could be attracted to the protein content in cat feces.
  3. Some researchers believe that this behavior is an inherited trait from wolves, which would eat feces to maintain the cleanliness of their den from fecal-borne intestinal parasites.

To prevent your dog from eating poop due to natural instincts, limit their access to feces, especially cat poop from the litter box. Keep the litter box clean and in a place where your dog can’t reach it. For puppies, ensure they are taken outdoors regularly, rewarded with a treat and praise upon successful defecation, and promptly remove the excrement to discourage them from eating it.

Dietary Deficiencies

Dietary deficiencies may also play a role in coprophagia, or stool eating. For instance, a lack of thiamine (vitamin B1) could lead dogs to eat feces in search of certain nutrients. Malabsorption of nutrients may also contribute to this behavior.

Ensuring your dog has a well-balanced dog’s food diet can help address these deficiencies and discourage them from seeking nutrients in feces.

Behavioral Issues

Another reason why dogs eat feces is due to behavioral issues. Anxiety, stress, or attention-seeking behaviors can lead to coprophagia. In some cases, dogs may have been conditioned to eat their feces if they have been reprimanded multiple times for defecating in the home. This learned behavior may serve as a way for them to gain the attention of their owner or avoid punishment.

To address behavioral issues related to coprophagia, it’s essential to use positive reinforcement rather than punishment when training your dog. Providing a consistent and nurturing environment can help alleviate anxiety and stress, reducing the likelihood of your dog resorting to poop eating as a coping mechanism.

Identifying Health Risks Associated with Poop Eating

Allowing your dog to continue eating feces can lead to serious health risks. These risks include parasite infections, disease transmission, and gastrointestinal issues. When a dog consumes infected feces, they can contract illnesses such as E. coli, Salmonella, giardia, or parvovirus. Additionally, bacteria and parasites can spread to humans and other animals through contact with the dog’s mouth, saliva, or feces.

If your dog suddenly starts dog eating poop and exhibits signs of sickness, it may be a case of “dog eat poop” syndrome. To stop eating poop, it is essential to monitor their diet and environment. The symptoms include:

  • weight loss
  • lethargy
  • discomfort
  • behavioral changes
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea In some cases, a dog eats something that can cause these symptoms.

It’s crucial to consult your veterinarian right away. They can help rule out any underlying health issues and recommend the appropriate course of action to keep your dog healthy.

Prevention Strategies for Coprophagia

Preventing coprophagia involves a combination of approaches, including improving your dog’s diet, managing their environment, and redirecting their attention away from feces. By implementing these strategies, you can effectively reduce the chances of your dog engaging in this unwanted behavior and maintain their overall well-being.

It is important to remember that coprophagia is a normal behavior for dogs.

Improving Your Dog’s Diet

A well-balanced diet is crucial for your dog’s health and can help prevent coprophagia. Consult your veterinarian for dietary recommendations and consider dietary changes or nutritional supplements if necessary. For example, incorporating a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar for every 25 pounds of body weight into your dog’s food can help improve their digestion and discourage them from eating feces.

Ensure your dog’s diet is rich in meat-based components and provides all the necessary nutrients. In some cases, adding digestive enzyme supplements or a meat tenderizer to your dog’s diet can help older dogs effectively digest their food and obtain all the necessary nutrients. However, always consult your veterinarian before introducing any supplements to your dog’s diet.

Managing Your Dog’s Environment

Keeping your dog’s environment clean is essential in preventing coprophagia. Promptly pick up and dispose of all feces in your yard to deter your dog from indulging in this behavior. Supervise your dog during walks and use a leash to guide them away from feces, as they may be tempted to consume other non-food items that could be harmful to their health.

Restrict your dog’s access to cat litter boxes and other sources of feces, and maintain a clean and sanitary living space for your dog. This will help reduce their exposure to feces and decrease the chances of them engaging in coprophagia.

Redirecting Your Dog’s Attention

Redirecting your dog’s attention away from feces is another effective strategy for preventing coprophagia. Use positive reinforcement, toys, and treats to train your dog to focus on more appropriate behaviors. Teaching your dog a “leave it” cue followed by a “come” or automatic “sit” with positive reinforcement can help them resist the temptation of eating feces. Provide praise and high-value treats when your dog successfully avoids feces, further incentivizing them to leave poop alone.

Mental stimulation and puzzle toys can also help alleviate:

  • Boredom
  • Loneliness
  • Anxiety
  • Stress

These factors may contribute to coprophagia. By addressing the emotional needs of your dog and keeping them mentally engaged, you can reduce the likelihood of them resorting to poop eating as a coping mechanism.

Training Tools and Techniques to Stop Poop Eating

In addition to prevention strategies, there are various training tools and techniques that can help stop your dog from eating poop. Utilize anti-scavenging muzzles, field guards, and head collars to discourage your dog from consuming feces. Training your dog to walk on a leash can also help you guide them away from feces more efficiently.

Clicker training is a great way to teach your dog good habits. This technique can be effective in teaching them to abstain from eating feces. By combining clicker training with positive reinforcement, you can effectively train your dog to avoid engaging in this unsavory behavior and maintain their overall well-being.

Natural Remedies and Supplements

Natural remedies and supplements, such as digestive enzymes and mineral supplements, can help prevent coprophagia in some cases. However, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian before using these remedies and supplements, as they can advise on the appropriate course of action based on your dog’s specific needs and health status.

For older dogs, digestive enzyme supplements can help them effectively digest their food and obtain all the necessary nutrients. Additionally, addressing any mineral deficiencies in your dog’s diet can help reduce their likelihood of engaging in coprophagia. Always consult your veterinarian before introducing any supplements to your dog’s diet to ensure their safety and effectiveness.

Addressing Anxiety and Stress-Related Coprophagia

To address anxiety and stress-related coprophagia, it’s important to provide mental enrichment and activities that can help alleviate these emotions in your dog. Puzzle toys, for example, can keep your dog mentally engaged and reduce feelings of boredom, loneliness, anxiety, or stress. Training your dog to play treasure hunt games during mealtime is another way to enrich their life and distract them from eating feces.

If your dog’s coprophagia persists despite implementing these strategies, it might be necessary to seek help from a behaviorist. A professional behaviorist can provide guidance and support in addressing your dog’s anxiety and stress-related coprophagia, ultimately improving their overall well-being.

Consult Your Veterinarian

Consulting your veterinarian is a crucial step in addressing your dog’s poop eating behavior. They can help:

  • Rule out any underlying health issues that may be contributing to this dog’s poop eating behavior, such as intestinal parasites, nutritional deficiencies, or gastrointestinal disease
  • Provide guidance on diet supplements
  • Recommend any necessary adjustments to your dog’s diet

If your pet is not responding to standard diet and treatment, your veterinarian may suggest you consult a veterinary nutritionist. This specialist can provide further testing and treatment for your pet. By working closely with your veterinarian and other professionals, you can ensure your dog’s health is properly addressed and their coprophagia is effectively managed.


In conclusion, addressing your dog’s poop eating behavior is essential for their health and well-being. Understanding the reasons behind coprophagia, identifying health risks, and implementing prevention strategies, training tools, and techniques can help put an end to this unsavory behavior. Remember to consult your veterinarian for guidance on diet supplements and addressing any underlying health issues. By proactively addressing coprophagia and providing a nurturing environment for your dog, you can ensure their overall well-being and enjoy a happy, healthy relationship with your canine companion.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a natural remedy to stop dogs from eating poop?

Adding natural supplements such as pineapple, apple cider vinegar, canned pumpkin or meat tenderizer to your dog’s food may help stop them from eating their own poop.
Additionally, coating stools with hot sauce or lemon juice and keeping waste picked up regularly can also be effective deterrents.

Is it bad if my dog keeps eating his poop?

Eating one’s own feces can be harmless, but consuming feces from other animals may cause health problems due to contamination. Poop eating can definitely be a concern for a pet owner since it can make your dog sick, and it may also be an indication of a potential medical issue.
If your dog is eating their poop, it’s important to have them checked out by a vet to ensure their health and safety.

What can I put on my dogs poop to stop eating poop?

Adding a few tablespoons of canned pumpkin to their food, coating stools with hot sauce or lemon juice, and adding apple cider vinegar (1 teaspoon per 25 pounds of your dog’s weight, given with food) may help make your dog’s waste taste bad enough that they will be less likely to eat it.
These methods are all natural and safe for your pet, and can be used in combination with other methods to help keep your pet from eating their own waste.

Why do dogs eat poop?

Dogs may eat poop due to natural instincts, dietary deficiencies, or behavioral issues.
These instincts may be due to a lack of nutrients in their diet, or they may be trying to get attention from their owners. Dietary deficiencies can also lead to this behavior.

What are the health risks associated with poop eating in dogs?

Eating poop can put your dog at risk of parasite infections, disease transmission and gastrointestinal issues.

Photo of author
Caroline Cochran is a former veterinary technician who is passionate about helping fellow dog lovers learn about canine nutrition. Her best friend is a rescued Great Pyrenees named Syrah, who is also very enthusiastic about dog food.

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