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Why Do Dogs Eat Poo?

by John Burns BVMS MRCVS

March 18, 2014

We’ve just returned from another successful show at Crufts where we gave away 500 leaflets about poo eating! It is quite surprising how common this problem is but there are things you can do to resolve this problem. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix and you will have to try different methods to see what works best for your dog.

There are many theories of why dogs eat poo…

Behavioural Reasons:

  • attention seeking – any type of attention is good even if it is for something they shouldn’t be doing
  • hiding evidence – have you punished your dog (not recommended) for accidentally pooping in the house?
  • normal behaviour by a bitch with puppies – she keeps the area clean around her puppies for the first few weeks by eating their poo
  • puppies like young children put everything in their mouth as they are exploring their environment –  it can be a normal curiosity most grow out of
  • stress and confinement in a kennel environment may lead to eating poo
  • behaviour copied from litter mates or another dog
  • some dogs actually play with the poo, especially if they are bored

Health problems:

  • parasite infection may cause dogs to eat poo so a veterinary check-up and regular worming is essential
  • gastrointestinal disorders such as pancreatic insufficiency may lead to poo eating – the theory is they eat their own poo as it contains undigested nutrients
  • dogs with problems such as diabetes may eat poo if the condition is not controlled
  • neglect – dogs which are starved will try and eat anything to survive, including poo

Diet:

  • poorly digestible diet (poor quality).
  • overfeeding – too much food decreases the digestibility of the food.*
  • food intolerance is a likely cause –  a reaction to a certain ingredient may adversely affect the digestive system.

This problem is not usually caused by a deficiency unless there is an underlying health problem such as those stated above.

In order to try and stop your dog from eating poo you will need to address both the behavioural side of things as well as looking at diet.

The causes of poo eating are different in every dog and so you may need to try several things before you see a reduction in poo eating. Give our nutritionists a call and we can go through the different options available:  0800 083 66 96.

*you can overfeed a skinny dog. How? Not all dogs gain weight when you feed them too much food. Some dogs simply produce more poo if fed excessive amounts or show other signs of excess nutrition (see page 6 in John Burns’ Veterinary Health & Nutrition Handbook’).

by John Burns BVMS MRCVS
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