why does my pup eat poop?

So much for sweet puppy breath

Dogs do a lot of things most people wouldn’t do. They sniff butts. They pee in public outside. And they often want to eat gross things they find — like poop — that people find, well, disgusting. If your puppy is snacking on stools, the good news is it’s really not a rare dog activity (maybe that’s not exactly “good news”). Here’s what you need to know if and when your puppy starts to eat poop.

Why eat poop
Vector graphic of poop within an empty orange crossed out circle

The scoop on eating poop

Coprophagia, commonly referred to as “ew, my dog is eating poop,” is a form of pica, which is an improper ingestion of non-food items. Just as there are different breeds of dog, there are different types of coprophagia. It’s not just seen in puppies, either. Some dogs will only eat feces from specific species, like yummy “kitty treats” from the cat litter box. Some puppies nibble on poo they find as part of normal food exploration and outgrow it. Other dogs have less discerning palates and are more willing to chew on random poo, so they need more specific intervention.

Things to do if your dog eats poo:

  • Limit access to feces. That means blocking the litter box, picking up poops from your yard when you see them, and generally being on poo patrol when out with your dog.
  • Ensure your pup has a dog-appropriate environment for rest, play, and exercise. The less poop in their environment, the less they’ll be tempted to take a taste.

Things not to do with dogs and poo:

  • Allow unsupervised access to poopy areas.
  • Punish your pup after the fact.
  • Try it yourself.

How Banfield can help

If your dog’s poop-popping habit worries you, it’s worth coming in to see your veterinary team. Some puppies will try a log or two as part of their otherwise normal development, while some grown dogs may just be partial to protein-packed cat poo. However, coprophagia can also be a sign of poor nutrition or a deprived environment, or of compulsive behavior. Your veterinary team is here with dietary and behavioral advice for dogs who just can’t seem to quit the doody.

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Puppy sniffing a patch of grass
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