Why Do Dogs Eat Their Feces?

Those who encounter such issues for the first time frequently wonder, “Why do dogs eat their feces?” It is possible for many dogs to eat their feces at some point during their lifetime.

Why Do Dogs Eat Their Feces?

Those who encounter such issues for the first time frequently wonder, “Why do dogs eat their feces?” It is possible for many dogs to eat their feces at some point during their lifetime. Let’s start by saying what we will conclude in the end: this is usually a normal behaviour. This question may have multiple possible answers. First, you need to determine the reason behind this, then take measures to prevent such behaviour.  The first thing that comes to mind about dogs eating their feces is nutritional inadequacy. Additionally, cognitive issues can also be considered. It is essential to remember that dogs are extremely curious by nature, and they may even want to eat their feces out of sheer curiosity. In this article, we will delve into the question of why dogs eat their feces in detail.

In dogs, the act of eating feces is scientifically referred to as coprophagy. The reasons for coprophagy may vary. According to research, it is rarely observed in wild dogs. Before delving into the reasons, it is important to note that, in general, dogs eating their feces are not harmful unless there is a contaminated condition. Nevertheless, if a dog consumes feces from another animal, it can pose a risk of contamination with viruses, parasites, toxins, and can lead to serious health issues.

There can be both normal and abnormal reasons for coprophagy. It is essential to address these reasons separately and determine which behaviour is causing your dog to eat feces. Identifying the cause is important to find a solution to this behaviour.

Reasons Why Dogs Eat Feces

One of the primary reasons why dogs eat feces is the need to clean their puppies. Especially lactating female dogs may eat their puppies’ feces to keep them clean. This behaviour will naturally disappear as the puppies grow.

Another reason for dogs eating feces is the presence of beneficial nutrients in the feces of other animals. This one is a fairly normal reason. In addition, the taste of feces can be quite appealing to dogs. Feces from animals like cats and horses can carry valuable nutrients for dogs. However, it is essential to be cautious, as there is also a possibility of harmful bacteria in the feces of these animals. Therefore, it is more appropriate to prevent dogs eating feces of other animals in this manner.

In addition to factors like nutritional value, cleanliness, and taste, another significant reason for dogs eating feces is communication. Anxiety and a sense of not feeling well in dogs can lead to feces-eating behaviour. Furthermore, it may be an attempt to respond to punishment or seek attention. To prevent these, it is important to understand your dog’s needs and address them appropriately.

In some cases, dogs may start eating feces when they do not feel well. This can be related to gastrointestinal disorders. If symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea occur due to feces consumption, it is crucial to consult a veterinarian. Dogs that eat feces should be evaluated for medical conditions such as gastrointestinal diseases and nutritional deficiencies.

It is also important to consider that this behaviour in your dog may be due to psychological issues. Issues such as anxiety can affect animals, just like they do in humans. Claustrophobia, separation anxiety can also lead to feces-eating behaviour in dogs.

If your dog was punished for defecating in the house by you or someone else in the past, it may start eating feces in response to this punishment. The fear out of the punishments they received when they were puppies can lead to these kinds of issues persisting into adulthood.

Sometimes, dogs may view eating feces as a game. In such cases, how you react to your dog is of utmost importance. Approaching your dog when it eats feces can turn it into a game, as your dog may run away from you, resulting in a chase. If your dog finds this behaviour intriguing and entertaining, it may start eating feces to engage in this activity.

Additionally, your dog may eat grass as well. If you are curious about this, you can read our article titled “Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?” for further information.

How to Prevent Dogs from Eating Feces?

If you want to prevent your dog from eating feces, you should first identify the reasons behind this behaviour, as mentioned earlier. After discovering the reasons, you can use different methods to prevent it, keeping in mind that these methods should be suitable for your dog’s personality and life stage. If your puppy has started eating feces, the first step is to restrict their access to feces. After you puppy defecates, you should reward them and clean it up immediately. Instead of punishing your dog for defecating indoors, it is important to reinforce potty training methods, especially for later stages of development.

If your dog’s feces-eating behaviour is due to anxiety, you should take some measures to reduce their anxiety. If you leave your dog alone at home frequently, providing them with toys to entertain themselves can be beneficial. Additionally, spending quality time with them can help alleviate anxiety.

If an adult dog has started eating feces, the reasons could be anxiety, a desire for attention, or fear of punishment. Therefore, if you have an adult dog that engages in feces-eating, you need to closely observe them. After identifying the cause of your dog’s feces-eating, you should establish a specific approach. If your dog is nursing, keeping their living area clean can be helpful. Punishment should be avoided in these situations. Instead of frightening your dog in this way, you should embrace a patient and understanding approach. If your dog tries to eat feces found on the street during a walk, gently pull on their leash to distance them from it. This will help them understand that they should stay away from feces. Using positive reinforcement after doing so can also be beneficial.

If your dog is eating feces to get attention, the ideal solution is to spend quality time with your dog. Meeting their daily exercise and play needs can resolve this issue. Playing with different toys can also be helpful. However, it is important to remember that if yo have started giving attention to your dog and they have stopped eating feces, you should not abruptly withdraw your attention. If you stop paying attention, this behaviour may re-emerge.


Yukarı Bahçelievler Mahallesi, Aşkabat Caddesi, No: 12/6, Çankaya/Ankara


+90 850 840 03 39