Can Dogs Eat Poop? Understanding the Risks and Health Concerns

As a professional veterinarian, I often get asked this question by concerned pet owners – “Can dogs eat poop?” The short answer is yes, dogs can eat poop, but it is not advisable. While it may seem like a strange and revolting behavior, eating poop or feces is a common habit among dogs. In this article, I will explain the reasons why dogs eat poop, the health risks associated with this behavior, and what you can do to prevent it.

Can Dogs Eat Poop? Understanding the Risks and Health Concerns

Why do dogs eat poop?

There are several reasons why dogs may eat poop, and it is essential to understand them to address the issue correctly. Some common reasons are:

  • Nutritional deficiency: Dogs may eat poop to compensate for missing nutrients in their diet. If your dog is consistently eating poop, it could be a sign that their diet is not well-balanced, and you may need to make some changes in their food plan.

  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, Pancreatitis, or thyroid disease could lead to poop-eating behavior.

  • Boredom or anxiety: Dogs may engage in poop-eating behavior out of boredom, anxiety, or stress. In such cases, increasing their exercise, providing them with toys and mental stimulation, and giving them ample attention can help.

  • Learned behavior: In some cases, dogs may learn to eat poop from other dogs or animals they have interacted with.

Regardless of the reason, it is crucial to ensure that your dog doesn’t engage in poop-eating behavior as it could lead to several health risks.

Health risks associated with poop-eating behavior

Consuming poop or feces could expose your dog to various health risks such as:

  • Parasites and infections: Eating poop could expose your dog to parasites like roundworms, hookworms, and protozoa, which can cause severe health problems.

  • Diseases: Consuming poop could expose your dog to diseases like Salmonella, E. Coli, and Campylobacter, which could lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and other digestive issues.

  • Toxins: Poop could contain toxins like pesticides, fertilizers, and other harmful chemicals that could cause toxicity in your dog.

  • Behavioral issues: Dogs that engage in poop eating behavior may have trouble digesting food, and it could lead to digestive issues like bloating, diarrhea, and vomiting.

What can you do to prevent poop-eating behavior?

Preventing poop-eating behavior in dogs requires a multi-pronged approach. Here are some steps you can take to address the issue:

  • Ensure a well-balanced diet: Ensure that your dog is getting a well-balanced diet rich in all essential nutrients. If you are unsure about what to feed your dog, consult with your veterinarian or a certified dog nutritionist.

  • Exercise and mental stimulation: Provide your dog with ample exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and anxiety that could lead to poop-eating behavior.

  • Train your dog: Train your dog to avoid eating poop by using positive reinforcement techniques. Reward your dog for good behavior and discourage them from eating poop.

  • Clean up after your dog: Ensure that you clean up after your dog immediately after they poop to avoid the temptation for them to eat it.

  • Consult with your veterinarian: If your dog continues to engage in poop-eating behavior and you are concerned about their health, consult with your veterinarian to rule out any medical conditions.


While it may seem like a harmless behavior, eating poop or feces could expose your dog to several health risks. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your dog doesn’t engage in this behavior. A well-balanced diet, ample exercise, mental stimulation, and training can go a long way in preventing poop-eating behavior in dogs. If you are concerned about your dog’s health, consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions.


Q: Why do dogs eat poop?
A: Dogs eat poop for various reasons, such as boredom, anxiety, nutritional deficiencies, or because they are puppies exploring their environment. However, it is not a healthy behavior and can lead to health problems.

Q: Can dogs get sick from eating poop?
A: Yes, dogs can get sick from eating poop, as it can contain harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses, or toxins that can cause gastrointestinal problems, infections, and diseases. Also, dogs that eat poop from other animals can get infected with diseases that are specific to those animals.

Q: How can I prevent my dog from eating poop?
A: To prevent your dog from eating poop, you can do the following:

Keep your yard clean and pick up your dog’s poop regularly.
Supervise your dog when outside and distract or redirect them if they try to eat poop.
Train your dog to obey commands, like “leave it” or “drop it”.
Provide your dog with enough mental and physical stimulation, exercise, and a balanced diet to prevent boredom and nutritional deficiencies.

Scroll to Top