Coprophagia: Is Your Dog Eating Poop?

September 29, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

One question I often get especially with new dog owners is “How do I get my dog to stop eating poop”? Eating poop, also known as coprophagia, can be caused from an underlying health problem and in some cases can also be the cause of health problems. However there are other reasons for your beloved family member eating poop.

Many people think that dogs eating poop means they are missing something in their diet. This is not exactly true, instead it may be what is in the dogs diet causing the issue. Many of the commercial diets are high in carbohydrates and some dogs have problems completing digesting carbs. Many dogs are “deficient” in pancreatic enzymes capable of digesting the higher carb diets. Its not that they are deficient but rather they are not suppose to be eating that many carbs. The thought is that the dog is trying to rebuild its enzymes by eating poop and/or eating already digest food. I am not sure the true reasoning, but many times changing a dogs diet to a higher protein less carb, like a grain free or a Raw diet can stop the poop eating. (There are not many scientific studies on copraphagia, so many of these suggestions are based on experience)

Chronic Pancreatitis and diseases like Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) cause a true deficiency in pancreatic enzymes and not surprisingly these dogs can develop coprophagia.The pancreas produces the enzymes to help digest food especially plant material and carbs. Adding enzymes to these dogs diets will help in digestion of the food and help recurrences of pancreatitis, thus stopping the poop eating.

Dogs suffering from malabsorption from digestive disorders such as allergies, intestinal infections, inflammatory bowel disease, or even true malabsorption disease have a tendency for coprophagia. Any dog that is eating poop on a regular basis needs to visit a vet in order to determine if one of these diseases is a possibility.

There was a study done by a large dog food manufacturer some years ago into the favorite flavors of dogs. The results were rather disgusting and amusing. One of the top flavors of dogs, one that they would eat very regularly is not beef but rather fecal material i.e. poop! So in some cases your dog just likes the flavor!

Eating poop can cause health problems such as intestinal infections and more likely parasite infestation (having worms). Dogs that have a propensity for eating poop will tend to have more parasite infestations and may need to be dewormed on a more regular basis.

So now what happens if your dog is not eating poop due to a health problem but one of the other causes such as just even liking the flavor (ugh!)? Well can you believe this – there is an entire blog/website devoted to coprophagia in dogs! Vernon Lee the dog poop guy has an ebook and a website for the sole purpose of providing the poop eating dog owner answers and solutions to their problem. Check out his site and solve your dogs poop eating issue at The Dog Poop Diet

If your dog is eating poop do not be seriously alarmed it is a common problem and there are many reasons your dog can be experiencing coprophagia. It is important to see your vet about it to make sure it is not a health related issue, but many times it is some other reason. If you have a story about your dog eating poop or advice for owners experiencing this issue please leave a comment below.

About Dr Daniel Beatty
An Infopreneur with a Veterinary Medicine degree.

  • I have a friend who feeds her dogs nothing but V-dog vegan kibbles. She has a relatively new (6 months ownership) rescue dog (a chihuahua). He ate some cat poop on a walk, and when she tried to take it away from him, he wolfed it down. She is adamant about not feeding meat, so I wonder if there is another way to help get that dog more balanced nutrition.