Why Is My Puppy Eating Poop?

If you know me, you know that I think the worst thing about having a dog is having to pick up their poop. I just find it unpleasant due to the texture, smell, and the fact that, you know, it’s poop.

Besides that, however, I love practically everything else about being a puppy parent and having the furry little fiends around me all the time. I’ve also purchased plenty of tools to make scooping up their poop as easy as possible (so that I don’t have to touch it, even with a bag on my hand). 

The other day I was reminded about poop by a reader who had recently adopted a pup. Like me, they weren’t so keen on picking up after their little fur baby. 

They were also wondering about a habit some puppies have (which also grosses me out) which is eating their poop. Their question to me was simple and straightforward; why is my puppy eating poop?

The answer is that there are several reasons why your puppy might be eating poop, a practice called coprophagia. Some eat poop out of sheer boredom, while others do it to hide the fact that they had an accident in the house. Some pups eat poop because they lack certain vitamins and minerals in their diet. 

If you’d like to know more about why your puppy is eating poop, how to stop them from doing so, and whether it’s dangerous, read on. I’ve got the answers to those questions and several more below to help you figure it out and stop their poop-eating behavior. 

Is it Dangerous for a Puppy to Eat Poop?

While it might seem dangerous, the fact is that puppies eat their poop all the time, and it’s completely harmless. (A little gross, but harmless.)  Like children, puppies will often put things they encounter in their mouths to discover what they are, including poop. 

On the other hand, if your puppy is consuming poop from other dogs and other animals, that could be problematic. Some poop can be contaminated with toxic substances, viruses, and even parasites, depending on the dog or animal. 

As you might imagine, these things can, in some cases, be harmful to your puppy. That’s especially true if they have access to (and eat a lot) of other animals’ feces.

Still, it’s natural for a puppy to eat their poop. The American Kennel Club (AKC) says that “the eating of fresh stools is a reflection of an innate predisposition of ancestral canids living in nature.” 

The AKC goes on to say that the habit of eating their own poo “protects pack members from intestinal parasites present in feces that could occasionally be dropped in the den/rest area.” 

How to Stop Your Puppy from Eating Poop

There are several methods of preventing your puppy from eating poop, but they all depend on why your pup is doing it in the first place. Whatever the cause might be, the following methods can help stop this rather nasty canine habit, including:

  • Closely monitor your puppy when they go outside to defecate. Removing their feces immediately will prevent them from getting the chance to eat it.
  • Adding an ingredient to their food that tastes or smells bad. That way, when it comes out the other end, your puppy will be more averse to eating their poop.
  • Training your puppy that eating poop is wrong. Some of the commands you can use include “leave it”  as well as “no” and my personal fave, “stop eating your poop, you crazy dog!”
  • If you allow your puppy to run around in the yard unsupervised, make sure your yard is free of poop before doing so.
  • There are puppy multivitamins on the market that can be helpful if your puppy is eating poop due to a deficiency of one type of vitamin, mineral, or another nutrient. Scientists have found that Vitamin B is deficient in many puppies and dogs.
  • Add an enzyme to your puppy’s kibble. Today, most puppy food is very high in carbohydrates and lower in proteins from meat and fat. Adding papain, an enzyme that helps with digestion, seems to help reduce a pup’s poop-eating habit.
  • Puppies will also eat cat poop if given a chance. Ensuring your puppy can’t reach your cat’s litter box is essential if you have cats in your home.

Home Remedies to Stop your Puppy from Eating Poop

I’ve already gone over the most popular methods of preventing puppies from eating poop. There are a few others, however, that you can try, including: 

  • Put hot pepper sauce on their stool. This method might sound ridiculous since you could just as easily pick the poop up, but after one or two times eating poop with hot pepper sauce, your puppy should develop an aversion to eating it in the future.
  • Putting lemon juice on their stool. This method is the same as hot pepper sauce and usually works after one or two tries.
  • Adding one or two tablespoons of canned pumpkin to their food. While pumpkin might taste good going in, it’s been shown to taste very bad in poop. (How they found out this information, I don’t want to know.)
  • Put some meat tenderizer in your puppy’s kibble. Like pumpkin, meat tenderizer imparts a foul flavor that will deter your puppy from eating their feces.

Should I Wash my Dog’s Mouth after he Eats Poop?

There’s no reason to clean your puppy or dog’s mouth after eating poop from a health standpoint. Here’s the thing; puppies and dogs have bacteria in their mouth that is completely different from humans. Even after they eat poop, their saliva is practically harmless to humans.

It can be gross to think about your dog kissing or licking your face after they’ve eaten poop, and for some, it’s reason enough to wash their mouth out. Again, though, it’s not really necessary. 

Rather than worry about what’s going on in your puppy’s mouth after eating poop, worry about taking care of their teeth. A lack of regular dental care can lead to several health issues that can harm your pup, including periodontal disease. 

Severe tooth decay is also possible if you don’t regularly brush your puppy’s teeth or give them tooth-cleaning bones and treats to chew on. It’s also highly recommended you take your puppy for professional teeth cleaning and continue to do so after they have become an adult.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve seen today, there are several answers to the question, “why is my puppy eating poop?”. A vitamin deficiency might be part of the problem,  or they might be doing it out of boredom. Covering up an accident is also one reason puppies eat their poop, as is the fact that it’s something dogs have done for centuries.

I hope today’s blog answered all of your questions about puppies and their nasty poop-eating habits. Please see my other blogs if you have more questions or want to learn more about being a perfect pet parent. I do my best to fill them with actionable, real-world information to help you raise your puppy into a healthy, happy, and well-adjusted dog.