Skip to main content
Dog sniffing the ground

What should I do if my dog eats poo?

Q: Molly, my 2-year-old cocker spaniel, eats other dogs’ pooh. I resent other dog walkers who don’t pick up after their dogs, and I’m mystified by my own dog’s behavior.

A: You undoubtedly regard Molly’s preference for “recycled” cuisine, formally called coprophagy or coprophagia, as irrational. Having lived with a coprophagic dog, I agree. Her breath was offensive when she’d try to smooch after she’d indulged. Worse, when she ate another animal’s excrement, she also ingested their intestinal parasites.

Animals often carry roundworms and hookworms, two intestinal parasites that can infect people, where they may cause blindness, seizures, organ damage and skin problems. Other microscopic parasites excreted in dog feces include Giardia, coccidia and whipworm eggs.

I suggest you take Molly to see her veterinarian to rule out physical causes of coprophagy. Take a fresh fecal sample so your vet can rule out parasites as a cause. Most often, though, eating feces has behavioral roots.

The condition seems to be more common in female dogs, especially those used for breeding, as they instinctively clean their pups and ingest their feces to rid the nesting area of puppy scent that might attract predators.

If Molly is simply cleaning up the environment, she should wear a basket muzzle with stool guard to prevent her from picking up pooh. If she is bored or anxious, increase her physical exercise and mental stimulation. If Molly is eating feces because she’s hungry, you can supplement her regular dog food with raw green beans and carrots.

Walk Molly on a leash and teach her to ignore feces. This is best accomplished by asking her to turn away from pooh and rewarding her obedience with praise and a delectable dog treat.


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at askdrlee@insurefigo.com.

dog out for walk in nature

After a long winter indoors, most of us...

dog outside chasing ball

Depending on where you live, it may not...

cute dog and cat

Folliculitis is a common infection that...

Advertisement for pet insurance.

More From Figo Blog
Labrador Retriever retrieving a blue frisbee from the yard

One of the best things about owning a dog is...

Cat scratching on a cat post

You may have heard the phrase, “Cats can’t...

Kristin Levine with dog

We recently had the opportunity to interview...

Puppy crate training in progress

There are many tools I utilize when training...

small dog playing with toy

Your dog won’t come up to you and say, “I’m...

Woman with two dogs checking her phone

Technology has changed almost every aspect...

Dog and pet parent listening to music in front of speaker

Whether you’re rocking out to your favorite...

Woman drinking coffee and holding small cat near

On any given day, between 50 and 70 million...