Why Is My Dog Eating His Poop?

By Palani_CML

Look, your terrier Riley is running through your back yard, chomping on a cigar as he trots along. You’re kind of surprised that someone would discard a perfectly good cigar in someone’s yard. Oh, no. Riley’s not eating a cigar at all. He has the most satisfied look on his face as he busily gnaws on…some other dog’s poop. Yes, Riley has just jumped on the coprophagia bandwagon. Once you get over your shock, you race inside to call your Santo veterinarian for advice.

Medical Condition

Believe it or not, your vet isn’t especially shocked by Riley’s antics, as coprophagia is a rather common canine behavior. Your vet wants to first rule out a medical cause, so he’ll give Riley a complete physical exam and analyze a fecal sample. If Riley’s deposits are full of half-digested food, or are really soft, the vet will probably repeat the test and also order blood work. The vet might suspect malabsorption syndrome, which inhibits Riley’s ability to digest his food and absorb the needed nutrients. As a result, Riley’s eating everything in sight because he’s so incredibly hungry. Or, perhaps Riley’s on a low-calorie diet and is desperate for food – any food. Riley might also suffer from diabetes, thyroid disease, or steroid drug side effects; all of these conditions will increase his appetite. Finally, he could be plagued by intestinal parasites.

Behavioral Origin

Riley might have been fascinated with feces for a very long time. He and his littermates probably discovered that their puppy cigars made great play toys. Riley might have also seen his mother eat the puppies’ feces so she could keep the dogs’ nest clean. If the dogs’ owner discovered the coprophagic behavior, she would likely be horrified. This reaction would encourage them to repeat the behavior to gain more owner attention. If Riley’s owner didn’t implement corrective action, this would lead him to continue his unwanted behavior throughout adulthood.

Head off Riley’s coprophagia obsession by following him outside and scooping up his poops before he has a chance to eat them. Make sure the cat’s litter box is off limits to Riley, too. Give him something more acceptable to chomp on, such as a chew toy that your Santo vet recommends. Finally, try to distract Riley by adding more exercise and mental stimulation, and spend some extra quality time with him every day.


Texas West Animal Health

16367 South FM 4,

Santo, TX 76472

Phone. 940-769-2222

Fax. 866-632-3365