Why do dogs eat stinky things and what can you do about it?

Pettsie
6 min readApr 11, 2022

Have you noticed your dog eating strange and smelly things like poop and wonder why they do that? You may think this problem is due to a mental problem or nutritional deficiency. Sometimes, you may get very mad at your pooch, but many veterinarians have observed this behavior in many dogs and some are even considering stool eating normal.

When dogs eat their own poop or that of other animals, the condition is termed “canine conspecific coprophagy, and this can cause health problems if the stool contains viruses, parasites, or toxins.

However, there has been no established link between diet and this behavior.

If you notice your dog eating stinky things, there might be something else going on, but most times, it’s just one of those unpleasant canine habits.

In fact, one study found that one in every six dogs regularly ate poop.

So what are the possible reasons why your dog might want to taste stinky things? We shall discuss a few of them below.

Why do dogs eat stinky things?

Here are some reasons why dogs eat stinky things such as poop:

Mothers do it to clean up

Sometimes, mothers eat the poop of their puppies after having a litter. They do this to keep the den clean. This is considered normal behavior, and some mothers continue after are puppies are weaned.

In some instances, moms lick their puppy’s bottoms to stimulate their puppies to excrete. In the process, they often ingest puppy poop. One of those motherly acts of kindness to their babies.

It might be an attempt to get attention

Dogs may eat stinky things in an attempt to get your attention. Of course, they know you would react strongly when you see them eating poop, so this may be their best bet to get you to notice them.

You can liken poop eating to other negative attention-seeking behaviors, such as jumping, nipping, or stealing things to trigger a chase.

Greed

Dogs that eat a lot and steal food are more likely to eat poop. You already know dogs evolved by scavenging. So it may just be an instinct to ensure they eat enough food.

Poor feeding

If the poop-eating behavior in your dog is strange and unusual, it may indicate that something is medically wrong with your pooch. It may be a sign of diseases of the liver, brain, or intestinal tract. Sometimes, this is often accompanied by behavioral changes, weight loss, or vomiting.

In this case, you may need to visit your veterinarian to test for intestinal parasites, thyroid conditions, diabetes, and other diseases.

Sometimes, when dogs eat their own poop, the stool may contain indigested food, and this can be a clear indication of a possible medical issue.

Another theory states that dogs eat poop in an attempt to fulfill a deficiency in vitamins and enzymes.

Some dogs love to eat cat poop — In fact, it is a common issue among canines. Ever wondered why? The feline diet contains a higher amount of protein than dog food, and this makes their feces a protein-rich energy bar loved by dogs.

Anxiety

When dogs become anxious, they have a tendency to eat stool. For example, if you punish your furry friend for soiling in the house, they may eat the stool out of anxiety and fear of being punished.

Sometimes, if a caged dog goes out to the bathroom and eats their own poop afterward, it may be an attempt to avoid anxiety.

What do researchers say?

Here’s a summary of research conducted by Dr. Hart from the University of California, School of Veterinary Medicine:

  • Coprophagia is more prevalent in multi-dog households ( compare 33% in homes with ¬3+ dogs vs. 20% in single-dose homes)
  • Female dogs have a higher tendency to eat poop, while male dogs have a lower tendency, especially those that haven’t been neutered.
  • 85% of poop eaters eat feces of other dogs and not their own
  • Dogs rarely eat watery stools. They prefer hard or even frozen stools.
  • 92% of poop eaters love stool that is only 1–2 days old
  • Dogs who beg and steal food off tables tend to be poop eaters

How to stop your dog from eating stinky things

No matter the reason behind your dog’s attraction to stinky things like poop, there are some measures you can take to curb that behavior. The danger of transmitting parasitic diseases alone is enough reasons to make you want to help your dog stop poop eating.

However, you need to first check that there’s no underlying medical problem or condition that is causing the problem. If you’ve confirmed from your veterinarian that your dog’s poop eating is a behavioral problem, you can actually train your dog to stop.

Here are some effective measures you can adopt:

Limit your dog’s access to poop

Research has shown that dogs are more attracted to fresh feces. So you can help your dog stop this behavior by picking up waste immediately you notice them in your yard.

Also, learn to clean out your cat’s litter box right after your cat defecates, and make sure you throw the waste in a place your dog cannot access.

Walk your dog on a leash

You can put your dog on a leash as you take them out for a walk. This helps to keep them away from any poop they may find in their path.

Avoid resorting to punishment

You may think by punishment, you would stop your dog from eating poop in the short term, but it may do more damage than good. When you punish your dog, it damages your relationship with your dog and this can cause them to behave worse.

Try dietary supplements

If you’ve cut your dog’s calories recently, you can consider switching to a high-fiber formula. When you add enzyme supplements to your dog’s diet, it can make the taste of their poop less appealing, and they tend to avoid it completely.

Some owners have found that adding papaya, crushed pineapple, or cottage cheese to their dog’s diet helped to curb the habit of eating poop.

Train your dog to understand the “leave it” command

Work with positive reinforcement and train your dog to understand the “leave it” command. You can appreciate them with a treat each time they obey the command. With time, you’ll observe a positive change in your dog.

Provide a toy for potty breaks

If your dog loves to play in the yard when you let them out, they tend to look for things to eat or enjoy. Don’t leave your pooch alone with time to search. Instead, provide a toy or treat to distract them and keep an eye on them during this period.

Conclusion

Dogs eat stinky things like poop for several reasons including, care for their puppies, greed, poor feeding, anxiety, and nutritional deficiencies. However, this behavior is observed to be natural in canine nature.

The good news is that you can control your dog’s poop-eating behavior by adopting some measures as we’ve discussed above. Keep in mind that it will take some gentle, consistent guidance to help them stop the habit completely.

In all, however, always keep your dog’s diet complete and balanced to supply their nutritional needs. This is important to help them quit faster. Talk to your veterinarian throughout this process to get proper guidance and help.

Want more tips? Click here and get a free E-Book: 15 SIMPLE WAS TO IMPROVE YOUR DOG’S LIFE

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Pettsie

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