Sometimes, our dogs do weird things. Like biting their dirty paws or rolling around in puddles. Dogs might even drink from toilets or lick their butts. In some cases, your pup might eat their own poop, or even worse, the poop of another dog or animal. For any pet owner, that's pretty gross and can be a cause for concern.

But why do dogs eat poop? Well, there are a bunch of reasons. Even though it might seem nasty to us humans, your dog's reasons for doing it might really surprise you.

poodle on top of an exam room table inside vet clinic

Should I Be Concerned If My Dog Eats Poop?

You should be concerned if your dog eats poop. While it's a relatively common behavior in dogs, known as coprophagy, it can be indicative of various issues that warrant attention. Here are some reasons to be concerned:

  • Nutritional Deficiencies: If your dog is lacking certain nutrients in their diet, they may resort to eating poop to try to obtain those nutrients.
  • Digestive Issues: Digestive problems, such as malabsorption disorders, can lead to undigested food in the stool, making it appealing to dogs.
  • Parasites: Worms or other parasites in your dog's digestive system can lead to an increased appetite for feces.
  • Medical Conditions: Some medical conditions, such as diabetes or thyroid problems, can affect a dog's appetite and behavior.
  • Behavioral Problems: Stress, anxiety, or boredom can contribute to coprophagy as a behavioral issue.
  • Motherly Instinct: In some cases, mother dogs eat their puppies' feces to keep the den clean. This behavior might persist into adulthood.

Can My Dog Get Sick From Eating Poop?

There is a risk that your dog can get sick from eating poop. Consuming feces exposes your dog to potential health hazards, including:

  • Parasites: Feces can harbor various parasites such as worms (e.g., roundworms, tapeworms), which can be transmitted to your dog upon ingestion.
  • Bacteria and Viruses: Pathogenic bacteria (e.g., Salmonella, E. coli) and viruses (e.g., parvovirus) can be present in feces and may cause gastrointestinal infections.
  • Toxins: Ingesting fecal matter from other animals can expose your dog to toxins or harmful substances that may be present in the stool.
  • Transmission of Diseases: Dogs can contract certain diseases by consuming the feces of infected animals, contributing to the spread of illnesses.

To minimize the risk of your dog getting sick from eating poop:

  • Monitor their environment: Keep your dog's living area and play area clean and remove feces promptly.
  • Supervise outdoor activities: Watch your dog closely when they are outside to prevent them from consuming feces, especially from unknown sources.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: Ensure your dog is fed a balanced and nutritious diet to reduce the likelihood of them seeking out additional nutrients from feces.

If you observe your dog consistently engaging in poop-eating behavior, you should consult your local veterinarian. They can help determine the underlying cause and provide guidance on how to address the issue, whether it be through dietary changes, behavioral training, or medical intervention. 

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