Why Do Dogs Eat Poop- Will It Cause Any Health Issues?

Dogs do so many things that aren’t the most appealing to us humans. They sniff behinds, self-groom incessantly, drink from toilet bowls and roll around in so many mysteriously-smelling places. One of the most notably unappealing things that dogs tend to do is eat poop.

If you find that your dog eats poop and you just want to know why there may not be anything to worry about. Eating poop, or the technical term, coprophagia, is a behavior that has quite a history in many animals, especially dogs. Eating poop used to be a means for survival in canines, so the behavior is somewhat innate.

Of course, even with coprophagia being an instinctive behavior in dogs, there are still many reasons dogs may eat poop. Read on to find out more.

Is It Normal For D0gs To Eat Poop?

Is It Normal For Dogs To Eat Poop

You may have caught a glimpse of your dog eating their own or another dog’s poop a time or two. It’s not the most pleasant sight in the world to witness your dog eating poop. But it’s actually a pretty common thing.

So, why do dogs eat poop, anyways? Simply put, there isn’t one straightforward answer to this perfectly reasonable question. Believe it or not, there’s quite a myriad of reasons as to why your canine friend may be eating poop.

They’re young

According to American Kennel Club, puppies are like human babies in the way they want to explore the world around them. [Source]Much to a human’s dismay, this may include them eating their own or other dogs’ poop. This is usually not a problem as eating poop is generally harmless to dogs.

They’re mothers

Many mommy dogs will eat the poop of their young ones to keep their kennel or living area clean.

Underlying health issues

Specifically in older dogs, if coprophagia becomes normalcy, this may very well be a cause for concern. If a dog is eating poop, this may be a sign that something may be wrong health-wise.

A lot of the time, an older dog eating feces is a decent indication that there may be an underlying health problem. There could be a range of potential like:

  • a nutrient deficient diet
  • reaction to drug use
  • parasites
  • diabetes
  • thyroid disease
  • malabsorption syndrome or conditions
  • gastrointestinal diseases
  • conditions that cause an increase appetite and can trigger abnormal eating habits.


Many dogs suffer from forms of anxiety and will partake in behaviors that may be abnormal to them. This will include eating feces for many dogs.

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For some dogs it may be separation anxiety, for others, it may be a general anxiety disorder. In general, the behavior of eating poop can be a response to any triggering feelings of anxiety for a dog.

Fear of punishment

Some dogs have a history of owners that would punish them for pooping in the house. For some, this is learned young, though other dogs may start this habit later on. PetMD states that “the dog may eat the evidence because they’re worried about being punished”.


Some dogs, unfortunately, spend much of their time in isolation from humans and other dogs. This can trigger behaviors of eating poop as it can cause boredom, anxiety


Many dogs are cooped up in kennels in shelters and are therefore more likely to eat poop than other dogs. This can be due to anxiety they may have developed and is a behavioral coping mechanism.

Lives with older/sick dogs

Many younger, healthier dogs are inclined to eat the feces of that of older and/or sicker dogs they cohabitate with.

The need for attention

Again, dogs are similar to babies and children in more ways than one. Like children may act out and do things they usually wouldn’t do for attention, dogs may do the same thing. Dogs will sometimes eat poop just to get a reaction out of their owners.


Many dogs are just bored and may be curious as to what poop may taste like. Some dogs’ curiosity is satiated with a sniff or two, while other dogs will just go the full nine yards!

They enjoy the taste

Even us humans all have peculiar tastes, so why would dogs be any different? Some dogs simply enjoy the taste of their own poop and other dogs’ or animals’ poop. You have your tastes, and dogs have their own, as well!

Can A Dog Get Sick From Eating Poop?

Can A Dog Get Sick From Eating Poop

Naturally, if you find yourself asking why dogs eat poop, you’re probably wondering if it’s even safe for your dog. Well, for the most part, it is perfectly safe for dogs to eat their own poop. If your dog is in tip-top shape, there shouldn’t be any harm in them eating their own poop.

However, issues may arise if your dog is inclined to eating other dogs’ and species feces.

Many animals naturally carry parasites, diseases, and many other elements that may be toxic to your pup. Stool contamination levels can be anywhere from curable to fatal depending on the animal and your dog’s sensitivity.

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It is important that you watch your dog and avoid letting them eat other animals’ poop when possible.

Fun Facts About Dogs That Eat Poop

  1. Dogs usually gravitate towards the hardest pellets: Most dogs that choose to feast on poop will avoid the softer stool and go for the firm stool instead. This may also be why so many dogs go for frozen poop in the wintertime. Studies aren’t completely sure as to why this phenomenon exists. It’s just a dog thing!
  2. 92% of poop eaters are attracted to fresher poop: The newer the better to pups! If it’s been dropped more recently, it’s more likely to get eaten!
  3. Female dogs are more likely to eat poop: This is most likely due to the fact that mommy dogs will eat the poop of their young.
  4. 85% of poop eaters will eat other dogs’ poop: Rather than eating their own poop, most dogs are interested in what comes from other dogs for some reason. What else can you expect from your hindquarter-sniffing canine?
  5. They are not more difficult to train: There is a misconception that dogs who dine on such a delicacy as poop are somehow more difficult to train. However, they are actually just as trainable as non-poop eating puppers.

Wrap Up

There you have it, folks! Now you’ll never have to ask the question “why do dogs eat poop?” ever again! Dogs are unusual creatures, to say the least. But despite their strange tendencies, they are the best of companions!

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