Why Do Puppies Eat Their Poop?

by Amy Brantley
Puppies eat poop for a variety of reasons.

Puppies eat poop for a variety of reasons.

David De Lossy/Valueline/Getty Images

Let's face it. There's nothing grosser than seeing your new puppy munching away at her own poop. It's enough to make any pet owner shudder with disgust, but there are reasons behind this behavior. In some cases, it's due to emotional problems, while in other cases, it may be the result of a disease. Understanding the reasons behind why your puppy eats her poop can help you determine if the behavior is something to worry about.

Learned Behavior

When puppies are born, their mother cleans up after them by eating their poop. This is a primal behavior that is meant to protect the litter from predators. The puppies will eventually begin to do what their mother does and this includes eating their poop. Because this is a learned behavior it can sometimes be hard to break.

Poor Digestion

In some cases, a puppy who eats her poop may have trouble with digestion. If the food is low in nutrients, the dog may eat her poop in hopes of gaining more nutrients. This can easily be remedied by switching your dog to a higher quality of food. If a change in food doesn't help, the pup may have a problem with her digestive system that requires veterinary attention.

Boredom

Some puppies destroy things when they're bored, and others eat poop. If you leave you puppy alone and don't provide stimulus in the form of toys, she may choose to play with her poop. Frozen poop can be even more fun because it doesn't fall apart, making for a great toy for the bored puppy.

Anxiety

A new situation may also be to blame for the poop-eating habit. When a dog becomes frightened or stressed, she may choose to eat her poop. It's important that you never scold your puppy when anxiety is the reason because it can only make the stress worse. Instead, focus on calming the dog.

Cleanup

Puppies may also eat their poop because their “den” is dirty. If a puppy is left in her crate long enough to have a bowel movement, she may eat it to clean up the area. You must find a way to prevent this from happening or it will quickly become a habit.

Attention

If you're not giving your puppy enough attention, she may decide to eat her poop out of boredom, but when you try to correct the behavior, she learns that it gets her attention. This can form a nasty habit. The good news is you can prevent this by giving your dog the attention she needs.

Photo Credits

  • David De Lossy/Valueline/Getty Images

About the Author

Amy Brantley has been a writer since 2006, contributing to numerous online publications. She specializes in business, finance, food, decorating and pets.

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