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Dog eating faeces

Dogs eating their own poop is unpleasant for owners, but it can also be bad for dogs. Find out why dogs eat poo and how to stop them with Sainsbury’s Bank. 

Provided by Pinnacle Insurance plc.

Why do dogs eat their own poop?

There are lots of great things about owning a dog, but dogs eating poop isn’t one of them. Unfortunately, dogs eating their own poop is very common – so common it even has a name: coprophagia. 

This guide will explain why dogs sometimes display this unpleasant habit, and how to stop dogs eating their own poop and those of other animals. 

Why do dogs eat poop?

Although it might seem puzzling to us humans why any dog or puppy would want to eat poop, there could be a range of reasons why your dog is doing it:

They like the taste

Dogs are scavengers and omnivores, so eating things found on the ground is part of their normal behaviour. Unfortunately, that sometimes can include poop. Some dogs simply think poop tastes good. Dogs have very different senses of taste and smell to humans, so it probably smells good to them.  

They’re anxious or bored

Your dog might be eating its own faeces as a coping mechanism if it’s stressed or bored at home. It’s important to give your dog plenty of exercise and enriching mental stimulation so that they’re content and happy at home. If you’re worried your dog is eating poo due to stress, speak to your vet. 

They want attention

If your dog learns that you’ll pay attention to it when it eats poo, it may continue doing it in the hope of more attention. Never scold your dog for eating poo – they won’t understand what you’re saying and may interpret it as a good thing.

Medical conditions

There are a range of medical conditions that might cause your dog to eat poo. Worms, dementia and illnesses that cause increased appetite could all lead to dogs eating poo. Speak to your vet if you’re concerned about any of them.

Learned behaviour

If your puppy saw its mum, siblings or other dogs eating poo it may have learned to copy them. Lots of puppies eat poo while they’re young but grow out of it as they mature.


If your dog isn’t getting enough calories or nutrition in its day-to-day diet, eating poo could be their way of trying to fill themselves up. Make sure that you’re adequately feeding your dog for its age, size, breed and activity level. Your vet will be able to help advise if you’re unsure. 

Why dogs shouldn’t eat poop

Aside from it being an unpleasant habit, there are important reasons you shouldn’t let your dog eat poop:

  • Dog poo contains lots of bacteria which might make them ill.
  • Other animals’ poo can contain parasites like intestinal worms.
  • It’s unhygienic – germs from poop can stay in your dog’s mouth and get on anything they lick – including your face. 
  • It can lead to scavenging behaviour on walks, which could cause your dog to eat other dangerous items it finds on the floor. 

How to stop your dog eating poop 

It’s important not to punish your dog for eating poop, and you should avoid muzzling them. Below are some ways to stop dogs eating poo.

Remove temptation

The best way to prevent your dog from eating its own poop is by picking it up as soon as possible. If you sometimes leave poops out in the garden for a few days before cleaning up after your dog, try to change this. If there are no faeces for your dog to snack on, the temptation is gone.

Distract them

Give your dog something else to keep them occupied. Dogs may eat poop out of boredom, so offer chew toys, long-lasting treats, and other mentally stimulating alternatives instead. If your dog has something more interesting to do, it may stop eating poop altogether. 

If your dog’s eating poop as a stress coping mechanism, try to remove stressful situations. Routine is important for dogs, so walking, feeding and playing with them at the same time each day can help to reduce stress.

Reward them

It is possible to train your dog not to eat poop. First, you will need to train the “leave” command. You can read more about this in our dog training guide . Once they’ve mastered leave, you can use this command to teach them to leave poop alone. This can work well if your dog is prone to eating other dog or animal poo while you’re out on walks.

Supervise them

You should always supervise your dog while out on walks anyway, but if your dog eats poop at home, try tackling it by supervising them while they’re out in the garden. If they go to the toilet, you can clear it up. You could even keep your puppy on a long lead, so you can move them away from anything you’d rather they didn’t eat.

Feed them more

Your dog might be eating faeces because it’s hungry, so the solution here is to increase their food portions. Make sure you’re feeding them enough at mealtimes so they’re not getting hungry. Your vet will be able to advise you on a healthy weight for your dog’s size and how much food they will need. 

Add pineapple to their diet

Pineapple is a fruit that’s safe for dogs to eat. But more importantly, it can stop dogs eating their own poo. Pineapple contains an enzyme that alters the smell and taste of dog faeces. It makes their poo unappealing, enough to put them off eating it altogether. However, it’s important not to feed them too much pineapple, as it’s high in fibre and sugar. Just a few chunks in their food every few days should do the trick.

Sainsbury’s Bank dog insurance

No matter how well-trained your dog is, there is a chance they could still eat poo – or something else they shouldn’t – from time to time. While this is usually nothing to worry about, there’s always a risk that it could make them ill. Key signs to look out for include diarrhoea or vomiting.

Make sure you’re covered for any unexpected vet bills with dog insurance from Sainsbury’s Bank.

Frequently asked questions

Why do dogs eat cat poop?

There are lots of reasons why dogs eat cat poo. Dogs are scavengers, and it’s in their nature to seek out food. Eating animal poo can be a sign of hunger, stress, boredom or a cry for attention. But sometimes, it can just be because they like the taste.

How do I clean my dog's mouth after eating poop?

You can use a doggy toothpaste and toothbrush to clean your dog’s mouth after eating poo or a dental stick to chew on. Encourage them to drink lots of water too. But sometimes it’s best to just keep their mouth at a safe distance for a while!  

What vitamins should I give my dog to stop eating poop?

One reason dogs eat poo is if they’re hungry. It’s important to make sure your dog is getting enough calories and nutritional value from its food. Check the packaging for recommended portion size and always choose a dog food that has all the vitamins and minerals your dog needs. If you’re unsure about how much to feed your dog, speak to your vet.