Coprophagia in Dogs and Puppies

Coprophagia (often incorrectly spelt as Coprofagia) is a medical term for dogs eating poop. It's pretty common in puppies, and they're not always fussy about whose poop they eat! Learn more about this disgusting habit, why dogs eat poop, and what you can do to stop it!

Dogs Eating Poop? Yuk!

 Yuk! I hear you say, but although it's deemed anti-social by us, it's relatively common in the dog world.

It's often seen in puppies up to a year old who, thankfully, will eventually grow out of it, but dogs of any age can indulge in this 'unpalatable' habit.

And to make matters worse, they're not always fussy about whose poop they eat. Some dogs have been known to eat the contents of the cat's litter box, treating it like a cookie jar!

Coprophagia In The Wild...

Before our dogs became domesticated, their mother would lick her puppies' bottoms to stimulate bladder and bowel movement. She would then eat their poop to remove any evidence of her puppies to help protect them from predators.

Golden cocker spaniel used to indulge in Coprophagia when he was a puppy, but no longer!My Mom says I used to eat my poop!

You'll still see mothers cleaning their puppies in this way today as the instinct is still strong within and drives her to 'protect' her young puppies.

It could be that by keeping her nest area clean, the mother is also teaching her puppies not to soil in their own den, which they tend not to.

Coprophagia in Puppies and Dogs

Unfortunately, at some time, our pets may suddenly decide to indulge in coprophagia for many reasons.

Max went through a short period where he ate his poo when he was a very young puppy. (I was horrified when he sicked it back up in the car on my lap!)

Unfortunately, in my panic to remove it, I pushed it down between the seat and the handbrake. It took ages to get it out and get the car smelling fresh again.

Brown cocker spaniel in meadow, indulging in coprophagiaWhat's coprophagia Mum? Is it tasty? Can I eat it?

If you discover your puppy or dog eating poop, it's best to do something about it sooner rather than later before it becomes a habit that's too difficult to break.

Aside from being a pretty disgusting habit, ingested poop can pass on unpleasant diseases and/or parasites to your Cocker Spaniel, not to mention what it could pass on to our kids and us!

Although our children are often taught to wash their hands at an early age, it's a good idea to emphasize the importance of washing their hands after petting their dogs. You can never be too careful, especially if your dog enjoys rolling in poop!

Is Your Puppy Eating Poop?

He is? In that case, let me reassure you, you're not alone. 

Whilst it may not be delightful to witness, coprophagia in puppies is quite a common sight. If your puppy begins to eat his own poo, you shouldn't really worry about it too much because the chances are he'll soon grow out of it.

In the meantime, continue to do your regular 'poop patrol' in the garden to help reduce his opportunity to snack.

You could try adding pineapple to his diet, as this is thought to make your dog's poop unpalatable. (I can't believe I just wrote that!). 

You can also step up on the Leave command, but you'll need to ensure the treat you have ready for him is tastier than the poop he's about to eat. Chopped liver or chicken will probably do the trick!

Wondering Why Dogs Eat Poop? 

There are several reasons why your pet may be indulging in Coprophagia:

  • One of the most common reasons is boredom, but an anxious or stressed puppy may also develop this habit.
  • Dogs that eat poop may simply be copying another dog's behaviour, or after watching you pick up after him, he may be mirroring your behaviour.
  • Your puppy may be attention-seeking. Let's face it, Mummy can get quite animated at the sight of her lovely little puppy eating poop...mission accomplished!
  • If your puppy isn't yet fully house-trained and is 'punished' for messing in your home, he may try to avoid being punished again by eating the poop to dispose of the evidence!
Max, golden cocker spaniel coprophagiaPhew! It's hot Mum.
  • If your dog's eating poop, he could simply be cleaning his living space, especially if he was confined in a small area or was locked in his crate for too long.
  • Your Cocker Spaniel may be overfed or eat his food too quickly, and as a result, it doesn't digest properly. This can lead to dog poop that will still smell and taste like his dinner! (Yuk!)
  • If your Cocker is only fed once daily, he may become hungry towards the end of the day and scavenge for food. If he's ravenous, this may lead him to eat his own poop!
  • If your pup is on medication, it could be the cause of your puppy eating his poop, in which case, have a chat with your vet.
  • Your puppy's food may not be nutritious enough; it may be lacking in essential nutrients, causing him to eat his own or another dog's poop (as I said earlier, they're not fussy!).

    Eating dog poop allows the maximum amount of nutrition to be absorbed from the food, which may be a throwback to the wild, i.e., the difference between surviving or not!
  • An infestation of worms or parasites could result in a deficiency of essential nutrients. This could lead your Cocker to eat his own dog poop to get the extra nourishment his body needs.

    Another good reason to ensure your Spaniel is up to date with his parasite and worming treatments!

There are many different ways of addressing this problem, and I can recommend one or a combination of these solutions to help stop your puppy from eating poop.

Meanwhile, keep your pup away from poop, and clear away any mess quickly to remove the temptation; don't allow the opportunity to indulge in Coprophagia in the first place!

The excellent news is that your Spaniel will (almost certainly) grow out of it!

Important Note: Potential Underlying Medical Problem

If your puppy or dog indulges in coprophagia, it could point to an underlying medical problem.

If your attempts to stop your Cocker Spaniel's anti-social habit have failed, I recommend you speak to your vet who will quickly diagnose or rule out any medical problem and will be able to help you further.

Coprophagia in Dogs and Puppies: Summary

Understanding why your dog is eating poop in the first place will help you to rectify his anti-social activities.

It's essential to stop your puppy from eating poop before Coprophagia becomes a habit; otherwise, it may become more challenging to deal with.

If you catch your puppy in the act of Coprophagia, don't get angry with him or punish him for it. If you do, he may believe he's being punished for pooping.

In his mind, the punishment may confirm that his decision to eat (i.e., dispose of the evidence) was the right one.

Go to the next page to learn how to stop your puppy from eating poop and enjoy his sweet scented kisses (albeit slobbery!) and loving licks once more!

Photo Credit: Why Dogs Eat Poop:
1. Copyright About Cocker
2. Crabchick at -
3. Copyright About Cocker,

If you'd like to read more on Coprophagia in dogs, you can do so here