I have a "poop" eating dog; a great dog a Terrier; eats his poop! Help

He is a neuterred terrier. If watched will generally not eat his poop but if possible, he’s right into it. Have tried using msg, no good. If allowed he will eat other dogs feces. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Well, my first thought is “Yuck!”. My second thought is that this is pretty normal for dogs. Not all dogs exhibit this behavior, but it is fairly common, and does them no harm, as far as I know. IIRC, they derive some nutrional benefits from sending the food back through the digestive system a second time, and it may indicate that they were unable to completely digest it the first time through. You might want to try switching to a different brand of dog food. Perhaps if you find one he’s able to fully digest the first time, he won’t feel the need for the second go 'round.

Good thought, changing food; I’ll try it.

When my cat used it’s litter tray the dog used to eat the cats poo.

If you want to put a stop to this behaviour (which is probably undesirable even if it is natural), you could try aversion therapy. Possibly the simplest method would be to take him into the garden on a leash and let him poop, then lead him away immediately. Shut him indoors, go outside and sprinkle some chilli powder on his doings, then let him out again; make sure there is drinking water available. Repeat.

If chilli powder doesn’t work, try some other things like a solution of bitter aloes (I think you can still get this from the chemist).

Terriers do this a lot. Try some mustard powder on it , or Tabasco if it is in your own yard.

Otherwise, we’ve practically stopped ours by being very strict with the NO! command but she’ll still try the odd time.

A lot of dogs eat cat poo (mine does), but a dog that eats his own poo?!? That’s sick, man…


The technical term for this behavior is called ‘coprophagia’. In general it is harmless to the dog even if disgusting to you and not an uncommon behavior in dogs (mother dogs in the wild eat the feces of their pups to keep the den clean). However, if the dog eats the feces of other animals (i.e. feces other than its own) there is a possibility of your dog getting parasites (e.g. worms) and maybe a few other nasty things (toxoplasmosis from cats for instance).

There are a variety of treatments for this although nothing is considered a 100% foolproof ‘cure’. There are supplements both over-the-counter and vet prescribed that you can add to your dog’s food that supposedly makes their feces unpalatable to them. We tried this with our dog and it didn’t work. There are also trainer ‘old wives’ tales that say adding things like spinach, meat tenderizer, pineapple and a bunch of other things that have the same effect. Hot sauce on the poo is an option, picking up poo immediately when found, muzzling your dog when out…the list goes on. Generally you will probably have to try a few different things to find the one that works and perhaps a few different things simultaneously (behavior modification/training, homeopathic remedies and so on).

I have heard before, when volunteering at a shelter, that it could mean the dog has a vitamin deficiency (forgot which one!), and believe it or not it is contained in the feces. I would, like said above, try to change your dog’s food and ask the vet as well.

There are a metric shitload of anti-coprophagics out there, and they work really, really well for some dogs. For other dogs they’re a waste of money. They work best on dogs who are eating one (or a few) particular animal’s feces. From what you’re describing it sounds like he’ll eat any feces he can get his lips around, so stuff like ForBid (the brand Dr. Jack always had in the clinic) probably won’t do much good.

If you have a fenced yard, just go poop-prospecting every day or two and keep it picked up as much as you can. He can’t eat what isn’t there. Or leash-walk him in the yard for potty breaks, clean up after him, and then turn him loose for play time. (I’m assuming he’s an only dog, but I also have suggestions for multiple dog houses if you want them.)

It can mean that but then again that may not be the case at all. There are many reasons a dog might do this. Our vet told us (when our pup did this) that todays dog food, even ‘cheaper’ stuff, is positively loaded with the nutrition your dog needs. On the first pass through the dog’s system the dog almost certainly doesn’t extract all the nutrients present in the food (which is fine…the dog is more than likely getting all it needs anyway). However, once out the other end, there is enough nutritional ‘value’ in the feces for the dog sniffing at it to still identify it as a useful food source.

Of course, if you are feeding your dog homemade meals then it is possible the dog is not being provided the full range of nutrition it requires (dog food manufacturers make it a point to drop everything your pup needs and then some into their food). The meat tenderizer remedy is to aid in the breakdown of meat (if that is what your dog is getting) to aid digestion…not to make the poo taste bad. It is also possible your dog just doesn’t deal well with whatever it is getting (just as some people are slightly intolerant of certain foods) so even if the nutrition is present the dog’s food its system may just be trying to rid itself of the food before it can get the maximum benefit from it. Maybe the dog isn’t being fed enough and is simply hungry. Or maybe the dog simply likes eating poo.

As a side note it is copraphagia in dogs that makes the Muslim religion severly frown on ownership of dogs. Back in the mists of time it got embedded into the Muslim religion that dogs are ‘unclean’ because they eat their own feces. As such they are only sanctioned for ownership when used for work (herding, hunting and seeing-eye dogs for instance). Keeping one as a pet, in their view, is a no-no.

I have a dalmatian with this problem. In our case, everything from hot sauce, to bitter apple, to hot mustard, etc has been tried on her poo piles.

In our case (and I believe many other cases) our dog is eating poo because of a behavior pattern, and not out of any vitamin or food deficiency, or not even because it likes the taste. Our dog unfortunately became conditioned by the reprimanding (bad doggie! No!) that resulted when we caught her eating poop. She now does so whenever she is feeling lacking in human attention, or as a retribution technique (usually if we leave for an evening movie or dinner, the following day she will try her best to eat all the poop she can).

The thing that fixed it is simply removing the opportunity for her to eat it. Clean up after the dog, it is easy, you only have to do it once a day. It is just as easy to dump her poop in the trash can as it is to try and run around sprinkling tabasco it.

I wonder if the person who thought up that myth about a dog’s mouth being cleaner than a humans was a shit eater too.

Man, I’m gonna pass on dinner for awhile, my esophagus feels tight. :rolleyes:

It’s not a myth. A dog’s mouth might be ‘dirtier’ for a short while after eating feces but on the whole their mouths are cleaner.

From a perspective of potential infection if bit a dog is a far better choice to get bitten by than a human (cats are between the two).

Ok…it might be a myth. It looks like initial data suggested that this was so but further research has cast doubt on those conclusions.

My dog does the same thing, but only occasionally, and not recently. That having been said, I’m sure he’s all of a sudden got a craving…

Anyway, I’m told it’s normal, and the suggestion to switch brands of dog food worked great.

One other bit of advice that I recieved that I thought was very useful: No Doggy Kisses (unless you know where he’s been recently).

My dog does the same thing, but only occasionally, and not recently. That having been said, I’m sure he’s all of a sudden got a craving…

Anyway, I’m told it’s normal, and the suggestion to switch brands of dog food worked great.

One other bit of advice that I recieved that I thought was very useful: No Doggy Kisses (unless you know where he’s been recently).