Why Do Dogs Eat Their Own Poop? (The Answer May Surprise You)

Picture of a dog looking at poop

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Dogs often exhibit very strange behavior. While some are funny and adorable, some of them, such as when they eat their own poop, are just worrying. If you are wondering why your dog eats its poop, this article will take you through various reasons, its repercussions, and how you can stop the disgusting behavior.

Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

Dogs eat poop because of behavioral or environmental triggers and lingering health issues.

So, if you see your dog eating poop, it may be battling anxiety from being confined in an unfamiliar place or boredom from not having a toy to play with. Dogs will often eat their poop to occupy themselves without opportunities to play around. 

Similarly, if you yell at or punish your dog for pooping in the house, it may consume feces to get rid of the evidence.

The behavior could also indicate health issues such as nutrient deficiency, parasites, diabetes, and a range of conditions that could increase the canine’s appetite. As such, you should take your pet to the vet and unearth any underlying problem if you see it constantly eating poop.

However, in some instances, your dog may eat poop just for fun, because it enjoys it, or to capture your attention. Monitor your fury companion and note when it indulges in the behavior.

Why Do Dogs Eat Their Own Poop During the Winter?

Sometimes, your dog may not eat poop often but indulges during the winter. Such behavior points out that your dog enjoys eating feces and does so during winter due to its enhanced smell and taste.

Although the smell of poop may repulse you, your dog may find it appealing. During winter, the smell of poop is heightened since snow locks in the moisture, making it hard for your dog to resist. Similarly, the frozen poop has a crunchier kick, combined with the odor to make it irresistible to your dog.

Why Do Dogs Eat Their Own Poop and Throw Up?

If you notice your dog throwing up after eating its poop, don’t worry. The result isn’t a direct result of consuming the waste; rather, it is an involuntary reflex from eating poop containing substances that do not agree with the dog’s digestive or immune system.

Similarly, if a dog consumes feces contaminated with foreign substances, it may develop gastroenteritis, leading to vomiting and diarrhea.

What Happens if My Dog Eats Poop?

Although it may seem disgusting and unhealthy, there are generally no adverse effects when your dog eats poop. It is a common phenomenon known as Coprophagia, which seldom results in health issues.

However, in some instances, when your dog ingests contaminated poop, it may vomit or have diarrhea afterward. There is no cause for alarm. However, consult your vet and find out why your dog is eating poop.

How Can I Keep My Dog From Eating Poop?

While eating poop is mostly harmless to your pet, it is an appalling behavior you’d like to end.

One of the best ways to stop your dog from eating poop is by limiting its access to waste. So, ensure your dog’s environment is free from poop by picking it up and disposing of it every time it excretes.

Alternatively, you could train the dog to refrain from eating its feces by giving it a treat every time it poops. The dog will always prefer the tasty treat to the poop and will soon grow out of the habit. 

You could also try reinforcing your dog’s diet with vitamin B supplements since poop eating is a sign of nutrient deficiency.

Tips from Our Vets

Dogs make excellent companions and bring so much joy to our lives. Unfortunately, however, they cannot speak to us.

If your pet exhibits odd behavior, it can be worrisome and difficult to know if the behavior is normal or a reason for concern.

Not sure why your dog is exhibiting a specific behavior?

  • Some behaviors can seem very odd but may be completely normal.
  • Others could signal illness or injury.
  • Due to the lack of ability for a dog to communicate with us verbally, it is imperative to pay close attention to what the dog is telling us through their behavioral changes.

The most important takeaway is that if you are ever concerned about a behavior that your dog is displaying, your best resource for information is your veterinarian.

In general, a new behavior that is not typical for your dog should be investigated. Examples would be:

  • Not eating
  • Suddenly sleeping more than usual
  • Being reluctant to go on walks or to play
  • Becoming aggressive or grumpy when interacting with other people or pets

These behavior changes most commonly indicate that something is wrong, and your pet needs to see their veterinarian as soon as possible. It is much easier and more likely to be successful, to treat an illness early in its course as opposed to waiting until the dog is very sick.

Other odd behaviors include:

  • Eating feces
  • Chasing their tail
  • Sudden bursts of activity (known as the “zoomies”)

These may be completely normal. However, if you notice a drastic change in your dog, for example, they never exhibited one of these behaviors, and now they suddenly are, it is prudent to have them examined by their veterinarian as soon as possible.

Even if the behavior is normal, it may lead to unintended issues.

For example, young dogs consuming their feces or the feces of other dogs can be a normal behavior but can lead to gastrointestinal upset as well as intestinal parasitism.

Parasites from your dog can cause serious health complications, not only for your dog, but also for you and your family, as many are transmissible to humans.

Licking of the feet or scratching may seem like normal dog behavior but typically indicates a health issue such as allergies, fleas, or skin infection.

Left untreated, these issues will worsen and cause additional discomfort for your dog.

Remember that your best source of reliable health information for your dog is your veterinarian. Because dogs cannot verbally communicate with us, it is essential to be proactive with any possible health concerns.

Working with a trusted veterinarian as your partner will ensure many happy and healthy years for both you and your dog.

Final Thoughts: Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

Dogs eat poop because of environmental or behavioral triggers and underlying health issues.

  1. The poop eating may be a result of anxiety and boredom.
  2. The dog may have underlying health issues such as nutrient deficiency and parasite invasion.
  3. The heightened odor and taste of poop in winter make it irresistible to your dog. 

If you’re looking for answers to explain your dog’s behaviors, you can check out our series of guides on why dogs do what they do:

Pet News Daily Staff
Pet News Daily writers are experts in pet care, health and behavior. We are members of Society for Professional Journalists and practice ethical journalism.