Dog eats own feces? [4 tips to break the habit]

Why does your dog eat its own feces? What consequences can this behavior cause and what can you specifically do about it? We show that and more in this report with 4 relevant tips to kick the habit. In addition, for this article we have Advice from veterinarian Emin Jasarevic obtained. Note: This article is written for the german country.

Cow dung - dog eats dung
Table of Contents

It is not only an aesthetic or hygienic problem, usually there is more behind the feces eating.

Why does my dog eat feces?

If your pet eats feces, it always indicates a problem. Technically, this behavior is called Coprophagy called. Excrement is not a food for him foreseen by nature. 

If you notice that your pet is eating its own feces or other excrement, something is wrong. No matter what kind, whether horse droppings, cow dung or chicken droppings. After that many dogs have to vomit and often get diarrhea. 

But why does he start in the first place?

  1. Due to an acquired behavioral disorder, for example in a kennel, he may have tried and learned this. This often happens in the imprinting phase with puppies, when they have to spend a lot of time in a cage.
  2. Malnutrition and the associated deficiency symptoms can also be a reason for this behavior. A lack of minerals or vitamins, especially with too little vitamin K, can be the trigger!
  3. Diet without variety could be a motivator for eating feces. If your quadruped gets every day only food from the discounter and water, he can already look around for "alternatives". Possibly this can also go hand in hand with point 2.
  4. A Digestive enzyme deficiency can also be responsible for this. It can be caused, for example, by a building salivary gland insufficiency. However, this can only be diagnosed by a veterinarian. 
  5. . Hunger may cause the consumption of feces. During a forced diet, this behavior can mean the desire for more food.
  6. A Intestinal bacteria deficiency could be another reason. This occurs mostly in dogs up to about one year.
  7. When a Disturbance of the intestinal flora present
  8. Attractants and flavor enhancers, contained in industrially produced ready-to-eat food are excreted in the feces. Dogs can be attracted to them.
  9. A congenital predisposition to coprophagy (Eating excrement)
  10. High Stressfor example, if the order of precedence within the family has not been clarified.
  11. Also a Attention problem can be the cause. For us humans it is repulsive and disgusting when the dog eats feces. The dog ticks there somewhat differently. Should this not get enough love and attention and therefore start to do so, he gets the desired attention!

When puppies eat feces

pad for puppies

In principle, feces, whether their own or those of others, is in any case not part of the diet of a dog. However, there are also phases in which this is quite normal. 

A bitch eats the excreta of her offspring after she has given birth. In the first weeks, the bitch stimulates the digestion of the puppies by frequent licking of the genital and anal area. 

Conversely, it can also happen that the puppy ingests the mother's feces. He still lacks some bacteria for digestion, which he thereby absorbs. 

However, after the first 12 weeks this should be over. If not, then you should clarify with your vet why he continues to take it.

Danger of infection from dog to human

Aside from the fact that it's disgusting when your pet comes over for a cuddle covered in feces, this can have far worse consequences.

Picking up feces increases the risk that your own dog will pass on pathogens to its fellow humans. This can be particularly dangerous for children, as their immune system is still developing.

No matter what the excrement, it can contain a variety of parasites and pathogens. By ingesting human excrement, for example, it can transmit diseases to other people via its muzzle, teeth and fur. He is, so to speak, the messenger.

Communicable diseases

Transmissible diseases and viruses are for example Giardia. These are highly infectious protozoa found in particularly soft feces of dogs. Besides this parasite can also Roundworms and tapeworms be transferred, various Dog tapeworm species Regardless, it could also mean that your dog Fox tapeworms. This also applies to the Worm eggs

Passed on can likewise Parvovirus. This is a highly infectious viral disease for puppies and is often quickly fatal.

Cat feces
can Toxoplasma which are distributed over the fur and muzzle after consumption. But also Hepatitis and Salmonella are among them. Chicken or rodent droppings in particular contain these pathogens. Besides Cysts, Fours and Eggswhich can be transmitted, your four-legged friend also smells disgustingly from the mouth.

Many of these pathogens just mentioned can also be transmitted from animal to human, such as: Giardia, various roundworms and tapeworms, toxoplasmosis, salmonella and some other pathogens or parasites.

Consequences of feces consumption

Goat droppings

Ingesting excrement can not only transmit diseases, but also lead to health problems in the dog itself. In the wild and even 100 years ago, these consequences were completely neglected, but this should be a thing of the past.

If you think that eating feces is part of a dog's natural behavior, you are wrong. 

Eating excrements should be perceived as a problem and should be stopped with proper methods. Thus, you can protect your protégé from the risks of the following diseases.

Higher risk of worm infestation

The risk of worm infestation is much greater from feces in addition to ingestion of parasites and pathogens. This is true for any type of feces. While worms from other animals are not contagious to dogs, a risk of adverse health effects still remains. Even just sniffing feces can have consequences, but this rarely happens. 

Ingestion of hazardous drugs and pharmaceuticals

Many medications that we humans, but also animals, ingest are excreted again in the feces. A dog that eats feces can ingest them, which is often also a risk.

This applies predominantly to worming medications for horses. These deworming medications are excreted again in high quantities via the horse feces and can pose a serious danger to the dog if it eats them. Although the effect depends on the size of the dog as well as the horse's apple, nevertheless applies: Never let your dog eat horse droppings!

Drug intake

This sounds a bit strange now, but it is not uncommon! If your dog has eaten excrement of a drug addict, he can get high and no longer sane.

In Berlin, for example, dogs with a real intoxication have often been admitted to the veterinary hospital. Such feces are generally found in big cities and their parks. The symptoms that the dog shows as a result are the same as those of poisoning.

4 tips against feces eating

In order to break the habit of eating feces in your dog, it should be determined for what reason he started doing it in the first place. 

Therefore, a veterinarian should diagnose whether a disease is the trigger. 

It is also necessary to clarify the situations in which he begins to eat feces.

  • Is he often lonely or under stress?
  • What is the diet like, is it varied?
  • Has he possibly gotten into the habit because he is in the kennel a lot?
  • Is he showing signs of deficiency?
  • Or is he attracted to the odors and preservatives they contain?

TIP: The ancestor of the dog is the wolf. This is known to be a scavenger, so there may well be a genetic connection. So there must not always be a disease or deficiency that causes this behavior.

1. education


To break your foster's habit of eating poop, hygienic education can help. For luring away from the piles can be a good treat, be helpful. But the danger is that he stops in front of every pile and demands a treat!

Therefore, strict prohibition is probably the better education. So from now on you should keep your darling under observation. 

As soon as heaps of excrement from him or other animals are to be found for instance in the garden, so these must be be removed immediately. He should not even have the opportunity to snack! 

In the case of a kennel dog, its feces must ideally be removed immediately. This also applies to a puppy box. 

They are still very curious and even if they are bored, they should not get the opportunity to try their feces. If a cat lives in the household, its toilet should be cleaned immediately after use. 

TIP: If your four-legged friend eats cat feces from the litter box, often just moving it can help. Put the litter box in a place that your dog can't reach.

When going for a walk, the same meticulous attention must be paid. If he should come across excrement when running free and does not obey despite instructions, an muzzle prevent him from doing so. 

However, it is very unlikely that the muzzle will teach him to stop eating feces. Also a long leash can help to express the commands even more clearly. 

2. eliminate deficiency symptoms

Vitamin and nutrient deficiencies can also be causes of coprophagia. For this reason, nutritional supplements can provide relief. These are often expensive, but many dog owners report an improvement in the problem. 

Here I would recommend that your vet first determines what deficiency it is and whether this deficiency can be remedied with a dietary supplement. Thus you save more money and do not pump your protégé unnecessarily with means that his body does not need.

3. home remedy

Before walking the dog:

Give your dog stinky cheese to eat (e.g. Harzer cheese, Romadur or Limburger)

At home against eating from their own feces:

  • Mix a piece of pineapple into the food (the enzymes contained in the pineapple are supposed to prevent the appetite) 
  • Alternatively, you can add a small amount of apple cider vinegar or pineapple juice to the feed.
  • rumen, leaf stomach, bananas, yeast, yeast flakes or brewer's yeast can be added to the daily feed
  • Healing clay mixed in canned milk
  • Dried meat with dried sprat

4. behavior therapy


If your dog feels called to ingest feces because of a bad master-animal relationship, then behavioral therapy is necessary.

This will determine what exactly is going wrong, which will be followed by education on cleanliness and hygiene. Also your darling is trimmed here on an alarm signal, which is to bring about the abortion of a fecal intake. 

Since defecation acts as a self-reward for your four-legged friend, a Counterconditioning take place. This is also part of a behavioral therapy. If social deficits are present in the four-legged friend, such as weak social contacts and a lot of loneliness, then countermeasures must be taken. 

To do this, he must be challenged mentally and physically. All this is done with small subgoals, which allows success to be achieved more quickly and efficiently.

How should I wash it?

Dog shampoo bathing

When your dog once again could not resist his appetite and starts to eat, he also smears the feces on his body, especially on the mouth area. It is not uncommon for them to roll in the excrement as well. Then proper cleaning is important so that he does not spread the feces everywhere in the apartment.

For cleaning, be sure to use cleaning gloves. 

On the one hand, for hygienic reasons, and on the other hand, this measure can also help to thoroughly complete the washing process. Your darling must be thoroughly showered or bathed. 

If there is a residue of feces in the mouth area, you should give him an apple to eat. This will clean the spaces between the teeth. A dog toothbrush is also a good idea.

Should you not have the possibility to wash your protégé thoroughly yourself, it is recommended to use a Dog salon.

Frequently Asked Questions

If your dog eats feces, it indicates a problem. Either it means misbehavior or a deficiency symptom. In technical language this behavior is called coprophagy. Excrement is not a naturally foreseen food for him. 

Picking up feces increases the risk that your own four-legged friend will become infected with pathogens or pass them on to his fellow human beings. This can be particularly dangerous for children, as their immune system is still developing.

Dogs can become infected with worms, other parasites or diseases. Also, feces can contain the remains of medications or drugs that can poison your dog.

In order to stop your dog from eating feces, it should be determined for what reason he started eating in the first place. Therefore, a veterinarian should diagnose whether a disease is the trigger. 

It is important to stop your dog immediately when he tries to eat feces and to correct him. You could put a muzzle on hard cases. Also, feeding stinky cheese before walking is a proven home remedy.

Veterinarian’s Recommendation

With the exception of puppy dogs and their mothers, eating excrement should be discouraged.

To do this, the cause must first be determined. Only then can a suitable measure be pulled through. If the usual home remedies and tricks like cheese or similar do not help, I advise you with a vet. 

If your veterinarian does not attribute this habit to a disease, it is a good idea to participate in behavioral therapy with your dog.

Picture of Geprüft vom Tierarzt Emin Jasarevic
Veterinarian Emin Jasarevic

I am a veterinarian and writer on animal health topics. Animals are my passion, and it is my personal goal to create medically accurate articles and videos to educate pet owners as much as possible.

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