Behavior

How To Stop A Dog From Eating Poop: 9 Home Remedies

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Last Updated: July 1, 2024 | 14 min read | Leave a Comment

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Dog on walk trying to eat poop off the ground.
Image credit: victoras, Shutterstock

Does your dog like to eat poop? If so, you are not alone. It’s high time we discussed this fairly common yet embarrassing part of pet ownership. No one, least of all me, wants to admit that their dogs eat poop. There are a few different reasons why your pup might be doing this, and if you’ve found yourself here, you are likely looking for some help. I’ve been there and know exactly how frustrating and gross this problem can be, and I’m here to discuss home remedies to stop dogs from eating poop. Let’s get into why your pup might like to eat feces and what to do about it.

Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

The term coprophagia refers to an animal eating feces. It can be their own feces, or that of another animal, or even a human. There are a few motivations behind this, including health issues, instinctual behavior, shame, dominance, neglect, poor nutrition, or another reason. Some dogs may just like doing it.

Smelling, licking, and tasting poop is a way dogs gather information. They can learn more about what other dogs, humans, and animals were in the area. Some dogs may eat poop in order to keep other dogs from finding it.

What The Research Says

Researchers have worked to understand coprophagia behavior in domestic canines. A 2018 study published in the Journal of Veterinary and Medical Science sheds a little light on why. The study, led by Benjamin Hart of the University of California Davis, discovered the behavior may be related to an ancestral instinct. Dogs evolved from wolves, who would eat the feces of sick, young, or old pack members who defecated in the den area to keep it feces-free. Along with that, dogs once survived as scavengers, and consuming waste was a way to survive. These leftover instincts may contribute to coprophagia.

The UC Davis Study revealed that the behavior is more common than we may realize – one in six dogs in the study were caught eating poo five or more times, making them serious offenders. One in four dogs in the study was observed consuming excrement at least once. Three thousand dog owners were surveyed for the study. As gross as it is, consuming feces is a natural behavior for dogs, and some may be more inclined to do it than others.

A Veterinarian’s Input On Dogs Eating Poop

Eating poop, or to use the technical term, coprophagia, is relatively common in very young dogs, and it’s something that most will grow out of as long as it isn’t encouraged. Dogs might eat feces for a variety of reasons – young puppies may just be curious, and poop from very young puppies isn’t that different from mother’s milk since their guts don’t do much processing. Equally, though, dogs can eat poop through boredom, hunger, habit, or because they’re lacking something in their diet.

The term pica refers to consuming non-food items and can be related to liver problems. It’s certainly something to worry about if your dog is eating feces, but also if they are eating other non-food items. It’s been suggested that dogs may eat the feces of those who are higher in the pecking order than them, so those who are more ‘dominant’ characters, but let’s not forget that dogs aren’t humans. They might just find the smelliness and general messiness appealing and fun, especially when it comes to fecal matter from other species – many pups seem to love rolling in cowpats and fox poop!

Dr. Hannah Godfrey, BVetMed MRCVS, Canine Journal Contributor

The Health Risks Of Dogs Eating Poop

Poop in grass.

Eating feces is an unhealthy habit, and it’s not something you want your fur baby to engage in. Canines can get sick from ingesting their own excrement or the feces of other animals. Feces contain bacteria, parasites, and bits and pieces of what an animal eats. When a dog eats feces, they ingest all of these things, which can pose a health risk. For example, a dog eating another dog’s fecal waste may then ingest medication that the dog is on, which could trigger a negative reaction.

Pups who have eaten feces and are having a bad reaction may experience lethargy, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite, and parasites or intestinal worms. You definitely want to deter and stop this behavior as soon as possible, as you do not want your pup to get sick.

Learn More About Why Dogs Eat Poop

Learn more about the behavioral and medical reasons canines eat poop in our in-depth guide on the subject.

How Do I Stop My Dog From Eating Poop?

If your pup is ingesting fecal matter of any kind, it’s best to consult your veterinarian before trying any home treatments. They will likely want to examine your dog and rule out any underlying medical conditions like an infection or illness.

There are a few things you can try at home to discourage this behavior and stop your pet from having any sickness or negative symptoms from consuming feces. The best first approach is to prevent your dog from eating fecal waste. This can be done in three ways: by providing your pup with a high-quality, tasty diet, physically preventing them from eating excrement by practicing fastidious cleanliness, and by training them not to do so.

High-Quality Diet

A high-quality diet is pivotal to your pup’s long-term health, and if they are lacking in nutrients or other elements, they may try to eat poop to seek them out. A nutritious diet made from top-quality ingredients, including various dry, wet, and fresh foods, is best. Sticking to food formulated for your pup’s specific age and breed size is also helpful in providing them with the right balance of nutritional elements. Learn more about fresh dog foods and healthy dog foods in our guides.

Cleanliness

Leaving a pile of excrement in the yard is an invitation for your pup to circle back to it later. Particularly if you have more than one pup defecating in the same area, it’s better to be proactive than reactive here, which can be done by simply cleaning up immediately after your pet’s defecations.

Being proactive is especially important with puppies, who are more prone to ingesting feces than other dogs. If your fur baby encounters this poop on a walk in the park or around the neighborhood, it is your responsibility to deter them from it right away. If you take your four-legged friend to a public dog park, be extra careful, as there are, unfortunately, many owners who do not clean up properly after their pets.

Training

Once you’ve discovered your pet has a poop-eating problem, it’s essential to start behavior modification training to stop this immediately. Pups must learn that this behavior is wrong and not to do it. You should keep a close eye on your pup when out on walks and at the park. If you notice your puppy sniffing or lollygagging around a pile of waste, direct them away with a command such as “No,” “Leave It,” or “Don’t.”

This behavior modification will take consistant repetition and practice. Sticking to a walking path that you know has less waste on it than others is also a good idea. Avoiding temptation is always beneficial.

Does Your Dog Roll In Poop?

Do you have a doggy who loves a good romp and roll around in fresh poo? Learn why your pup rolls in poop in our guide here.

9 Home Remedies To Stop Your Dog From Eating Poop

Two sausage dogs eating poop in the grass.

You can try a few things at home to discourage this behavior and stop your pet from having any sickness or negative symptoms from consuming feces.

One big question I see from owners is what to put into dog food to stop them from eating poop. A dog whose stomach and digestive system are functioning correctly and with a well-balanced diet is far less likely to seek out other things, like feces, to eat. Below I discuss home remedies to help stop your pup from scarfing that poo.

1. Digestive Enzyme Supplements

In many cases, when a dog is consuming feces, especially older dogs, the underlying cause may be a digestive enzyme deficiency. This can be addressed by giving your fur baby a digestive enzyme supplement. These supplements help their bodies break down food, allowing their system to absorb and use more nutrients.

2. Mineral Supplements

In some cases, a canine consuming feces may be related to a mineral deficiency. This can happen in both adults and puppies. Adding a natural mineral supplement to your pup’s health regimen can be beneficial to supply these essential minerals. Bentonite clay and kelp are common options. Addressing mineral deficiencies is helpful in stopping stool-eating behavior.

3. Probiotics

Probiotics can be a helpful addition to your pup’s diet for a few different reasons. They support a healthy digestive system, and canines with a healthy digestive system are less likely to seek out feces to eat. The live bacteria in probiotics are beneficial to a healthy gut microbiome, which promotes digestion and will make ingesting non-food items like feces less appealing.

4. Pineapple

Pineapple is often recommended to help stop pups from consuming feces. The pineapple fruit contains specific enzymes that can change the flavor and make poop very unappealing. This method is commonly used with young puppies who are curious about their surroundings and experiment with tasting excrement.

How Much Pineapple To Give A Dog To Stop Eating Poop

Stick with raw, fresh pineapple for your dog. Canne pineapple often has added sugars, syrups, and juices. A few bite-sized pieces a day is plenty. Fresh pineapple tastes delicious but is high in sugar, so a little goes a long way.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can help balance a dog’s stomach. Canines can develop a hydrochloric acid deficiency, which can lead them to eat feces. Apple cider vinegar mixed in with their food can help balance that acidity, as well as promote healthy digestion and nutrient absorption. This approach is better for adults rather than puppies.

As a general guideline, mix about one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar into your pet’s food for every 25 pounds of body weight. So, a smaller dog that weighs 30 pounds should get one teaspoon, whereas a larger dog that weighs 80 pounds should have around three.

6. Pumpkin

Plain pumpkin puree is greatly beneficial to dog digestion and can help deter coprophagia. Pumpkin puree is often mixed in with dog foods to help with diarrhea, constipation, and urinary tract health. Mix a few tablespoons of canned pumpkin puree into their food every day. While canines enjoy the taste of pumpkin in their meals, it tastes much different in feces. Adding pumpkin puree to their food will promote healthy digestion and deter them from swallowing their own feces.

If you have more than one dog, you may need to add pumpkin to each dog’s bowl to prevent them from eating each other’s feces.

7. Mint, Citrus & Flaxseed Oil

Adding something to your dog’s diet that makes the excrement taste terrible (even more than it already does) is a preferred method for many. Though less common than some of the other methods I’ve mentioned, you may also want to try to mix fresh mint or citrus, like clementines, into your dog’s diet.

These will make the feces taste very unappealing to them. Meat tenderizer can also be added to their diet, which they won’t mind but will deter them from eating poo. Another less common method is adding flaxseed oil, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids, to your pup’s diet. Omega-3 fatty acids help with inflammation, which often plagues canines with sensitive stomachs. Flaxseed oil may be beneficial to deter your picky eater from snacking on poop.

8. De-Stress

Canines tend to engage in odd behavior when they are stressed out. Stress can be triggered by even slight changes in their routine or environment. In some cases, this stress may trigger behavior like eating poop. Reflect on the recent days and consider if any major changes or occurrences may have triggered this behavior change. This can often happen when they have moved to a new home or have been recently adopted. The best way to address this is to de-stress your dog’s environment as much as possible. Stick to a consistent routine and keep their environment calm, cool, and reassuring.

9. Poop-Eating Deterrents

If adding things to your dog’s diet or training isn’t working, you can always try a stool deterrent. These products will make your dog’s feces taste absolutely horrible and will stop this behavior very quickly in most cases.

Best Stool Eating Deterrents

If you want to try a stool-eating deterrent with your pup, you have plenty of options. These often come in chews, powder, and tablet form.

FOR-BID Stool Eating Coprophagia Deterrent Review

FOR-BID Stool Eating Coprophagia Deterrent

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FOR-BID is a tried and tested poop-eating deterrent – it’s been around since 1972. The formula is made from wheat, gluten, and MSG, with no chemicals. This veterinarian-recommended powder is designed to stop your fur baby from eating poop by making it taste really bad. It is also safe to use with cats. The powder is super easy to use; just sprinkle it on your dog’s food. It also helps mellow out that stinky breath your pet might have after snacking on doo.

Zesty Paws Chew No Poo Bites Review

Zesty Paws Chew No Poo Bites

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Zesty Paws offers a soft chew stool-eating deterrent. The chew is chicken-flavored, and pups cannot tell it from any other treat. Capsicum extract gives waste an unpleasant taste, and probiotics help balance your pup’s gut health. Zesty Paws Chew No Poo Bites contain healthy ingredients like parsley, apple cider vinegar, peppermint, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, chicken liver, and flaxseed, among other ingredients. Chews are healthy and tasty, help stop the eating of stools, and work to freshen stinky poo breath.

Full Zesty Paws Review

View our full Zesty Paws review to learn more about the different supplements they offer.

Are There Pills To Stop Dogs From Eating Poop?

If your pup has an underlying medical condition, your vet may prescribe medication to treat that problem. If there are no medical reasons for the behavior, they often suggest an over-the-counter treatment. There are some chewable tablets you can try.

NaturVet Coprophagia Plus Breath Aid Tablets Coprophagia Supplement For Dogs Review

Coprophagia

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NaturVet’s veterinarian-developed formula uses a blend of yucca schidigera, parsley leaf, a proprietary enzyme Blend (alpha-amylase, Lipase, Cellulase, Protease, Bacillus coagulans and Frutooligosaccharides), and chamomile. The enzyme blend works to reduce stinky odors, helps with bad breath and deters your pup from consuming poo.

DIY Methods – Natural Poop Eating Deterrent For Dogs

If you are a DIY kind of owner and want to try to stop your pup from consuming poop, there are a few at-home deterrent options you can try. These may be a little more hands-on than some other suggestions, and not everyone has the stomach for them. This is just a word of caution before we proceed.

You can coat your dog’s stools with lemon juice or hot sauce or sprinkle a little cayenne pepper on it. This will make the dog poop taste unbelievably bad and deter your pup from eating it. Of course, you should pick the waste up right away, but making it taste bad can help stop this behavior quickly.

Our Personal Experiences With Dogs Eating Poop

You might feel alone or embarrassed by your pup gobbling down poo, but you are far from alone. I’ve had multiple pups that do it, especially when there is fresh, unknown doo in the yard. I spoke with some Canine Journal team members to see how common this behavior is.

My dog, Tiny, shares my house with three cats, and he loves to eat cat feces from my multiple litterboxes. After much trial and error, the only way I found to curb his love of cat poop was to invest in litterboxes that he can’t access. This top-access litterbox is the only effective way that I’ve found to prevent Tiny from eating cat feces in my home litterboxes.

Sally Jones, Rescue Pet Parent & Writer/Editor For Canine Journal

It’s not just limited to pet poop! Pups will go after human poo as well; dirty diapers are especially tempting.

My Bull Terrier mix, Bonkers, can’t get enough of goose poo. He has an excellent recall in all circumstances unless there’s goose poo around. He cannot get enough of it. Once he had so much of it, he vomited it all back up again in our flat – as if vomit wasn’t bad enough! Despite various training and distraction techniques, the only thing that stops him from eating it is not to let him near it.

My naughty Doxie, Chips, loves to chew and eat everything she shouldn’t. A few months ago, I unfortunately discovered this includes my toddler’s poopy diapers. She managed to pull down the bin and only ate the contents of the soiled diapers, including the absorbent filling, on more than one occasion. Soon after, I realized she did this on days I hadn’t taken her for a long walk, so I think this behavior was partly due to boredom. I don’t want to risk her eating any more poop, so not only have I increased her exercise, but I’ve also mounted the bin so she cannot reach it.

Emma Braby, Dog Mom & Writer For Canine Journal

Is your Pup Eating Wild Animal Feces?

Learn more about dogs eating rabbit poop in our guide.

How To Stop A Puppy From Eating Poop

Puppies may eat poop simply out of curiosity and must be taught not to do so. Many will grow out of the behavior, but it is not something to let happen. Be sure to feed your puppy a high-quality diet to ensure no nutrient or mineral deficiencies. If you notice other symptoms, get your puppy checked out by the vet to rule out any underlying medical issues.

  1. Be sure to redirect the behavior and send a clear signal that it is not appropriate. Try to avoid eye contact while deterring your puppy. You can clap, whistle, say a loud word, or make a loud noise by shaking a can or making an annoying noise.
  2. Redirect the behavior and offer your puppy a reward when they turn away from the poo. Positive reinforcement goes a long way to stopping unruly behavior.
  3. Keep your puppy’s environment calm and free of stress. Stick to a routine and use calming treats if needed.
  4. Keep your puppy on a leash while outside. You can lead them away as soon as they pull towards any piles of waste. Keep the access they have to excrement as small as possible so that there is no opportunity to re-offend.
  5. Discuss your puppy’s diet with your vet and switch to a more digestible food if a dietary imbalance or digestion issue is suspected.
  6. Add something to give the feces a foul flavor.
  7. Keep your pup entertained with physical activity, toys, and games. This discourages stool-eating that is done out of boredom.

When To Call The Vet

If you’ve tried the above methods and cannot stop the behavior, it’s time to get professional help. The first stop should be the veterinarian, especially if you notice other issues like weight loss or blood in your pup’s stools. After a checkup and ruling out medical problems, consider a professional trainer. We review the best online training courses that may help you. Learn more about training options in our guide on how to find the right trainer. In our guide, we also discuss whether pet insurance covers training.

More About Dogs And Poop

Owning a dog means dealing with a lot of crap, literally. Even small pups can surprise you with the amount of poo they have and the trouble they can get into with it, not to mention the amount of work it takes to pick it up. Poop is a stinky, messy, unavoidable part of being a dog parent, and we’ve got a lot of information about it to share. For example, do you wonder why dogs stare at you when they poop? We’ve got the answer. You can also learn more about why dogs circle when they poop. And, to keep your pup healthy, it’s important to know what the different colors of dog feces mean. Learn all about it in our dog poop color guide right here.

Why Trust Canine Journal?

Danielle has shared a special bond with animals since childhood. She has over 30 years of experience with canine breeds of all sizes, from toy to giant. She has spent far too many hours worried about and cleaning up dog poop and reluctantly considers herself an expert. Danielle is also a dedicated professional researcher and pet product reviewer. She spends countless hours researching the latest pet care, health, food, and training developments to help owners learn what’s behind the label. Danielle works with a professional and experienced team to bring our readers the best, most accurate, and up-to-date information to better the lives of pets and people.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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