The first step is not to throw up. I know that once I get past that stage, I can handle the issue. Your dog may not even be eating their own poop, but might be eating the feces from another dog or animal. I had one dog, a Brittany spaniel, that absolutely loved the cat box. While I don’t believe the cat had any issues with that, I certainly did.
The behavior, disgusting as it may be to us, is called coprophagy, and is actually very normal for most dogs. Similar to people, every dog is different. For a mom with a newborn litter, eating puppy’s poop is not only normal, but important to keeping predators away.
Sometimes, dogs just like the taste of feces! However, young puppies will eat the unpleasant morsels if they are separated from their mothers early. As young puppies, their digestive systems don’t always get all the nutrients that they can out of food. Eating it (again) helps them to get as many nutrients as possible. It also eliminates the smell, which can attract predators, thereby keeping them safe.
If you’re dog isn’t a new mother or a young pup, try thinking about how you react to poop. Dogs don’t process smells the way we do, instead they perceive smells as information. If your dog has stopped to sniff some poop and you yelp and drag them away, guess who just got really curious about it! That’s right, now Fido is going to want to investigate that even more, and he might just grab it up to take along with him.
However, not all instances of coprophagy are so normal. It can be a sign that something is wrong. Sometimes, there is something going on that prevents the dog from getting enough nutrition, such as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. If you’re worried, ask your vet about it at your next visit. In the meantime, getting more nutritional food may help.
However, if your dog is healthy and vaccinated, it is unlikely that eating poop will do them any long-term damage. There may be some risk of parasites or an upset stomach, but these should be able to be taken care of quickly. Of course, it may do us some mental harm as your pup bounds from a pile of nastiness to give you kisses, but Fido should be physically safe.
So, if your dog seems fine, even on the days he misses his little “snack,” but you’ve gotten tired of poo-breath, it may be time to take a look at how to stop the behavior. If you can, the simplest thing to do is to simply clean it up before the dog can get there. Understandably, this isn’t always possible, especially in public or winter.
Training your dog to have an excellent response to a cue (“Leave it!”) is one way to make sure you can stop a gorging session in the litter box. You can also get a cat door that will prevent your dog’s entry into the room that contains the catbox, unless you’ve named him Houdini, of course. During walks, keeping your dog on a leash gives you an equally quick response time to anything they may eat, be it poop or an old chicken wing.
Taste deterrents have their place, and may work well if you have a fenced in yard that only your dog(s) are in. However, they are practically useless in public, and you should always check the labels before giving them to another species. Vets can also give you pills to give your dog that acts as a food additive.
However, if you wish to stay away from chemicals consider these training exercises and natural foods to solve the problem.
In general, it’s good to bear in mind that dogs are dogs, and are not inclined to the same habits that we are as humans.