As you can imagine, when I saw my dog eating poop a while back, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Strange as it may seem, this isn’t actually an unusual thing in animals.
Normal or not, all pet parents want to know is how to cure their pup of this bad habit.
The good news is, there are many natural ways to deal with it, whether it’s caused by dietary insufficiencies, health problems, or behavioral issues.
In this post, you’ll learn how to stop your dog from eating poop, all naturally, and without any medications. I’ll also talk about the most common reasons dogs eat poop, and whether or not it can be dangerous for them.
As always, if you have any doubt at all about your dog’s health, you should give your vet a visit.
Why Is My Dog Eating Poop All of a Sudden?
As I mentioned before, eating feces (also known as coprophagia) is actually common in young puppies up to a year old of age, as they’re naturally curious about everything around them, including poop.
However, this stage is usually temporary, and your puppy should grow out of it on his own. A puppy may even notice his mother eating the feces of her litter to keep the nest clean and try to mimic her.
Boredom is also a popular reason for dogs to eat poop, as they don’t have anything to do while they’re home alone besides finding new things to try.
Even if you’re home and ignoring your dog, he may try to get your attention by getting in trouble and eating his own waste.
Whenever dogs are anxious or stressed, it normally leads to bad behavior. In order to relieve his tension, your dog may do things that he finds relaxing, which can include eating his feces.
Also, keep in mind that punishing a dog for pooping inside the house may send the wrong message. He might begin to believe that poop is bad, and as a result, the poor pup will eat his stool every time to hide it.
This is the most likely explanation for most dogs.
Although kibbles and canned food are usually supplemented with vitamins and minerals, sometimes these micronutrients don’t absorb well in the dog’s body. This is because processed foods don’t contain enzymes to help with the proper digestion and absorption of food.
Even though dogs can make enzymes inside their body, it’s not sufficient enough in amount to help the digestive process. That means that the food your dog is eating will come out undigested as a nutrient-rich poop that he will then want to have.
As opposed to commercial dog food and cooked food, raw fresh food does contain some enzymes. However, it seems that even dogs who consume raw foods are still somewhat lacking in them.
No dog wants to be hungry, and oftentimes, he will eat whatever he can find rather than have an empty stomach. There are a few different reasons dogs experience hunger.
Underfeeding. If your dog isn’t able to take in the number of calories he needs, his health will suffer. Dogs need to eat every day, usually multiple times, and if you don’t do this, it’s very likely they will look for something else, including their own poop to curb their hunger.
Worms. In case your dog suddenly shows a marked increase in appetite, be sure to get him checked for worms immediately. These intestinal parasites thrive by stealing your dog’s nutrients, which leads to a deficiency and him seeking a way to fix it.
Health Conditions. Some medical conditions, such as diabetes and hyperthyroidism can greatly increase your dog’s appetite, which means he will eat whatever is available.
By now, you’re probably asking yourself, “What can I do to stop my dog from eating poop?”
Don’t worry, we’re getting there.
Is Eating Poop Harmful to My Dog?
When your dog is eating his own stool, there really aren’t too many things that could go wrong.
However, eating other animal’s poop is another story, as your dog can catch infectious diseases and/or parasites. Likewise, he runs the risk of ingesting residual medications that the other pet may have taken.
For this reason, be sure to immediately contact your vet if your dog starts to show signs of vomiting and diarrhea after eating feces.
7 Natural Ways to Stop a Dog from Eating Poop
1. Clean up Immediately
The absolute best thing you can do is to clean up after your dog, or your cat, right after they finish their business, whether it’s on a pee pad, litter box or outside. That way, your dog won’t have anything to snack on.
Yes, there are times when it’s not convenient, but it goes a long way towards keeping everything sanitary and making sure your dog stays healthy.
2. Train Your Dog to ‘Leave It’
If your dog still doesn’t know the ‘leave it’ command, now’s a good time to teach it.
With the help of obedience training, you’ll be able to train your dog to avoid waste, and you can even add a recall command to make sure your dog stays away.
3. Avoid Using Punishment
Punishments simply scare your dog and make him anxious and confused.
Punishing him for eating poop or any other behavior problem not only won’t fix the issue, but it often makes it worse. Instead, if you reward your dog with high-value treats after he relieves himself, he may find that to be preferable over eating his waste.
4. Keep Your Dog Busy
While you’re away, you need to give your dog something that will keep him engaged until you come back. Dog puzzles are a great way to relieve boredom in dogs.
5. Use an Enzyme Supplement
I’ll say it again in case you missed it—dry dog food, as well as canned food, cooked food, and even raw food, don’t have all the enzymes your dog needs to maintain a healthy digestive system.
If your pup shows signs of nutritional deficiency, such as eating poop, consider adding an enzyme supplement to his daily menu.
Look for a high-quality daily supplement that contains a blend of powerful digestive enzymes, including Bromelain and Papain, and that’s made in a GMP-certified facility using human-grade ingredients.
6. Feed Your Dog a Balanced Diet
Check the feeding guidelines on your dog’s food to estimate how much he should eat based on his weight, or consult with a veterinarian to make sure he’s getting enough food.
Also, try switching to grain-free dog food that contains more protein and fewer carbs to fix your pooch’s stool-eating problem.
7. Check for Other Problems
Worms are often visible in your dog’s stool, so make sure to check it from time to time, and deworm your dog according to your veterinarian recommendation.
Also, ask your vet about the situation, and whether your dog should be checked for diabetes or a thyroid issue.
8. “Stop Dog Eating Poop” Products
These products are meant to deter dogs from eating their poop by making it taste bitter, while some include ingredients that claim to help with digestion.
Unfortunately, I can’t recommend any of these products, and by the look of the reviews online, most people don’t find them useful at all.
Instead, you can try adding a meat tenderizer, canned pumpkin, apple cider vinegar, or pineapple juice to your dog’s food to deter him from eating his own poop.
Did your dog stop eating poop because of this article? Tell us in the comments.
Li-ran is the Founder and Executive Editor at PuppyTip. He is a holistic pet parent and believes that dogs can teach us more than we could ever teach them. He also loves cooking, especially for his dog, Richie!