Why does my dog eat poo?

Although we humans think this is a pretty disgusting behaviour, it’s actually a very common problem and fairly natural for dogs. There are a few reasons why your dog might indulge in this, but what should you do about it?

Why is my dog eating poo?

Don’t panic! Although we humans think this is a pretty disgusting behaviour, it’s actually a very common problem and fairly natural for dogs.  Some dogs will eat the poo of foxes, cats, cows, horses, other dogs – and even their own poo. There are a few reasons why your dog might indulge in this, but what should you do about it?

Reasons your dog might be eating poo

  • It can happen in dogs that have had a bad or stressful upbringing, with little stimulation
  • If a dog is feeling hungry they are more likely to partake in some unwanted snacking
  • Boredom can be a trigger
  • Although it’s often thought that dogs lacking in nutrition are more likely to eat poo, it’s so common that it’s probably because they just like it!

Is it a health risk?

Not surprisingly, eating poo is really not that great for your dog’s health. One issue that can be a worry is that some livestock poo can contain medication that would be dangerous to dogs.

How should I stop my dog eating poo?

  • Your first step is to talk to your vet, to make sure your dog doesn’t have any dietary issues or nutritional deficiency, especially if they have just started doing this.
  • Make sure you’re feeding a really good quality dog food.
  • Consider feeding more meals in the day – little and often. Feeding just one meal can leave a dog feeling hungry and then they are more likely to eat poo.

My dog is eating its own poo!

  • If your dog is eating its own poo, reduce the access they have to it. Clean up immediately after your dog has been to the toilet. That means going outside with them every single time, so they don’t get the chance to eat it.
  • Take a high-value treat, such as chicken or sausage, out with you when your dog’s going to the toilet. As soon as they’ve finished, distract them immediately with the treat.
  • Throw the treat a little way away from you so that your dog moves away from the poo.
  • While the dog’s eating you can clear up, then give your dog another treat once you've finished.
  • Continue rewarding with treats every time your dog goes to the toilet for quite some time. It’ll give you a chance to clear up, and it’ll prevent your dog from continuing this bad habit.

 My dog is eating cat poo

Unfortunately, quite a few dogs really enjoy eating cat poo, so what can you do to stop this?

  • You need to make sure that you clean your cat’s litter tray as often as you can and move it to an area of the house that your dog can’t get to.
  • A stairgate to restrict access to a certain room or upstairs can help; if needed you can fit a cat flap into the stairgate to allow your cat through easily.
  • Try a litter tray with an enclosed lid, or use a cardboard box to create a home-made lid

More ways to stop your dog eating poo

If you suspect that boredom could be causing the problem you can try toys like Kong toys – stuff them with food and make it tricky to get the food out. This gives your dog the chance to chew and gnaw, which is especially good if they’re at home with nothing to do.

Make sure your dog gets enough exercise and interaction with you.

And remember, don’t panic! No matter how revolting you find it, most dogs will get out of the habit of it with just a little bit of help from you.

 If you have an Agria Pet Insurance policy, you can access the free Pet Health Helpline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The veterinary-trained team will advise on any concerns or queries that you may have over your pet’s health – much like the NHS 111 service for people. Call free on 03333 32 19 47.