What to put in dog food to stop your dog eating poop? Expert advice.
Your dog is eating poop.
So you need to know:
- Is it normal?
- Is it dangerous to your dog – and to you?
- What to put in dog food to stop eating poop?
The quick answer is: To stop your dog eating poop, you should put in dog food special ingredients such as pineapples, pumpkin, apple cider vinegar, green vegetables, and more.
But there is more to know about why your dog is eating feces.
And there are more ways to prevent your dog from consuming excrements.
This article will tell you everything you need to know to help you stop your pup from eating poop.
Let’s do this.
- Dogs that eat poop do it for two different reasons: behavioral and medical.
- Behavioral reasons for eating poop include boredom, attention seeking, stress, learning from other dogs, nutritional deficiency, and more.
- Medical reasons for eating feces include parasites, enzyme deficiency, diabetes, and more.
- To prevent your dog from consuming poop, you can put in dog food special ingredients such as pineapples, pumpkin, apple cider vinegar, green vegetables, and more.
- You can also try other methods of stopping your doggy from eating excrements. This methods include, minimizing access to poop, special training commands, using leashes and muzzles, and more.
VIDEO: How to stop a dog from consuming poop
Why is my dog eating poop?
Before trying to prevent your dog from eating poop, it’s critical to understand why your dog is eating poop in the first place.
Dogs that eat their poop or poop of other animals do it for two reasons:
- Behavioral reasons
- Medical reasons
Here are key behavioral reasons why dogs eat their poop or poop of other animals.
Boredom can lead to all sorts of unsavory behavior like stool eating.
In other words, leave your dog in the yard alone and it may turn to the only available thing to play with: poop.
A bored dog can also embark on an adventure of getting into a cat’s litter box. Eating cat’s poop often becomes part of this exciting quest.
Your dog can also quickly learn that eating excrements will get your attention. Immediately.
In your dog’s eyes, even getting in trouble is better than getting ignored.
Sneaking into the yard and wolfing down excrements is one way of asking for such “rewarding” trouble.
You’re waving hands, shouting, and chasing the dog all over the yard. So much fun!
In your dog’s eyes, you’re both playing a fun game.
Your dog will definitely want to repeat the whole thing. And so it’ll ingest poop again.
In short, your immediate reaction to your dog eating poop is rewarding your dog’s poop eating behavior.
Stress and avoiding punishment
Pooping on your carpet is a stressful business for your dog.
If your dog just pooped indoors, it may eat the poop to avoid punishment. Out of sight, out of your mind, your dog hopes.
Your dog can also start eating its poop if you previously punished it for eating poop. Again, your dog is eating excrements to hide the evidence.
Punishing your dog for eating dog’s poop can lead to a vicious cycle. Your dog eats poop, gets punished for it, and starts associating poop with punishment. So your dog eats its fresh poop to stay out of trouble.
Cleaning the den
Mother dogs often eat poop of their puppies.
A mother dog will lick the bottoms of its puppies to stimulate bowel movements. The mother will then eat the puppies’ feces. This is normal behavior. Mother dogs eat puppy poop to keep the den clean.
It’s also believed that dog mothers consume poop to protect puppies from predators, who may come to the den to investigate the feces odor.
Mother dogs usually stop ingesting their puppies’ excrements around the time the puppies wean.
Very young puppies may ingest poop to help colonize their gastrointestinal tracts with bacteria.
But if you want to make sure your puppy is safe from potentially dangerous bacteria, consider dog food brands that use special cooking process that removes unsafe bacteria from dog food for puppies. In fact, one such dog food brand is Open Farm, which we recently rated as the best dog food for Doberman puppies.
Learning from other dogs
Dogs can learn from other dogs to consume poop.
Dogs are scavengers by nature. This is why as many as 1 in 6 dogs eat poop.
Consequently, one of the most common reasons dogs eat poop is mimicking other dogs that eat feces.
So if your puppy is eating poop, chances are the dog has learned this behavior from its mother.
Furthermore, senior dogs in the household can pass the stool eating habit onto the younger dogs in the house.
Association with food
Some dogs may also associate poop with food. This may occur when a dog’s eating area is located too close to the potty area during critical development phases.
It just tastes good
Some dogs just love the stuff.
As mentioned earlier, dogs are natural scavengers. This means dogs are attracted to the smell of waste, rather than repulsed by it like humans.
Consequently, feces are simply one type of food for dogs.
A dog munching on its own poop or poop of other dogs or animals is simply a dog extracting nutrients from the currently available sources (feces).
If your dog is eating horse or rabbit poop, the dog is most likely enjoying the taste of digested or partly digested plants.
If your dog is eating poop, the dog may simply be hungry.
Eating poop may be also driven by survival instinct if your dog experienced serious hunger in the past. This can be observed in some dogs that have been re-homed from a shelter, for example.
But even well-fed and happy dogs may turn to poop if their diet contains an insufficient amount of Vitamin B.
Also, if your dog is eating food that is hard to digest, the resulting poop may contain undigested food that still looks and smells like real food. Your dog will most likely eat it.
Nutritional deficiencies are more common in dogs that are fed homemade diets, compared to dogs whose main diet is based on commercial dog foods.
Intestinal parasites like hookworms, whipworms, and roundworms steal nutrients your dog needs.
In other words, worms suck nutrients from their host (your dog), which can lead to a range of unpleasant symptoms including coprophagia (eating poop).
Note that dogs can get infested with worms by eating excrements.
When canines eat prey in the wild, they eat the whole thing, including guts. This ensures that dogs receive a sufficient amount of digestive enzymes.
But dogs that are fed on a highly processed diet, such as kibble, receive no digestive enzymes. In this case, a dog has no choice but to turn to feces in search of enzymes.
Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
Dogs affected by exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, also known as pancreatic insufficiency, can’t create enough digestive enzymes in the pancreas. Sadly, a dog will slowly starve without access to digestive enzymes.
A dog affected by pancreatic insufficiency will often turn to poop in search of those much-needed digestive enzymes.
Symptoms of pancreatic insufficiency also include weight loss and diarrhea.
Diabetes and thyroid issues
Conditions like diabetes and thyroid disease often increase a dog’s appetite. This may lead to poop eating if the dog doesn’t receive enough food from its regular diet.
What to put in dog food to stop eating poop?
Now to the main point of this article: What to put in dog food to stop your doggy eating feces (including home remedies).
Here are the best deterrents for dogs who eat poop.
You can prevent your dog from consuming poop by making poop less tasty to your pet.
For example, give your dog a few slices of fresh pineapple and your dog will no longer find poop tasty.
This is because pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain that makes poop taste bad (acidic) and so no longer appetizing to dogs.
Important: Ensure the pineapples are fresh, not canned.
Like pineapples, pumpkin spoils the taste of dog poop and poop of other animals.
Just add a couple of teaspoons of canned, unspiced pumpkin to your dog’s food.
In addition to making poop less tasty to your dog, pumpkin also helps with constipation and diarrhea and may even promote urinary tract health. Pumpkin also contains fiber, which can help improve your dog’s digestion.
Important: Avoid pumpkin pie filling. Only use pure pumpkin.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another ingredient that will ruin the taste of poop for your dog. Apple cider vinegar is an effective poop eating deterrent as it contains hydrochloric acid.
And this is how to add apple cider vinegar to the food of your dog: One tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per 25 pounds of your dog’s body weight.
Another stool eating deterrent is green vegetables. Like pineapples, pumpkin, and apple cider vinegar, green vegetables make poop less tempting for dogs.
Just add some Brussels sprouts, spinach, or chopped broccoli to your dog’s food. Ensure the vegetables are cooked (raw veggies are too hard to digest).
In addition to making poop less appetizing to your dog, green vegetables come with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Digestive enzyme supplements
If your dog is not receiving enough nutrients from its food, the dog will look for nutrients in other sources. Poop can become such a source for your dog.
This is where digestive enzyme supplements come in.
Digestive enzyme supplements can help dogs break down their food. This in turn helps dogs absorb more nutrients from their meals. A belly packed with nutrients will make your dog less interested in poop in the first place.
Vitamins and minerals
A lack of vitamins or minerals in the food of your dog can make your dog crave food that it usually wouldn’t touch, such as poop.
For example, B Vitamins help support your dog’s nervous system. This is why B Vitamin deficiency can lead to stress and anxiety in your dog. This can make your dog turn to eating poop.
If you suspect that your dog is instinctively eating poop to ingest beneficial bacteria, you may consider adding probiotics to dog food.
Providing your dog with probiotics can help maintain or even improve your dog’s gut health. This in turn can reduce gastrointestinal issues that may contribute to poop eating.
But note that there is still little scientific evidence showing significant health-promoting properties of probiotics. Still, many dog owners add probiotics to their dogs’ food, especially if a dog has a sensitive gastrointestinal tract.
There is also some evidence suggesting that probiotics can reduce a dog’s inflammatory responses to allergens.
As with all supplements, always talk to your vet if you decide to feed your dog probiotics.
Adding meat tenderizers to dogs’ food is often recommended as an effective way of making poop unappetizing to dogs.
But note that some veterinarians advise against adding meat tenderizers to the food of your dog. This is because meat tenderizers may contain ingredients such as sodium, onion, and garlic that are toxic to dogs.
It’s also worth noting that bromelain, the “tenderizer” in meat tenderizers, is also present in fresh pineapples. As discussed earlier in this article, adding fresh pineapples to your dog’s meals is a great way of making poop less attractive to dogs.
Unfortunately, I have extensive experience in dealing with an enthusiastic poop eater.
My male German Shepherd (Max) had no problem eating his own poop and poop of other dogs. Max also devoured feces of cats, cows, rabbits, and horses!
I took my dog to a very experienced veterinarian specializing in coprophagia in dogs (eating poop).
We tried two different methods, but putting in my dog’s food pineapples and green vegetables did the trick.
Max no longer eats poop!
So yes, this article in not only based on scientific research and expert opinions, but also on my extensive personal experience in dealing with an eager poop eater.
How to stop a dog from eating poop
In addition to adding special ingredients to your dog’s food, you may also want to try other methods aimed at stopping your pup from eating poop.
But since it’s often difficult to know why your dog is eating poop, you may need to try several methods before your dog stops snacking on feces.
Make sure to always consult your vet to see why your dog is eating stool.
Immediately pick up after your dog
Immediately picking up after a dog is one of the most effective ways of deterring dogs from consuming poop.
Also, make sure to properly supervise your dog during walks. It’s worth noting that dogs that eat their own poop are also more likely to eat poop of other animals and other non-food items, which may harm them.
Furthermore, remember that cleaning the yard from poop only once a week is asking for poop-eating problems. In other words, close down the poop buffet.
Minimize access to poop of other animals
As mentioned earlier, some dogs will snack on cats’ poop. To minimize access to a cat’s feces, place the cat’s litter box on a counter or table that is out of the dog’s reach. Hopefully, your cat won’t object.
You can also install a baby gate to keep your dog out of the cat’s area. The cat should have no problem jumping over the gate. Alternatively, you can also place the gate a couple of inches off the floor. This will allow your cat to pass under the gate but will still stop the dog.
And don’t forget to clean the cat’s litter box regularly.
Teach your dog to “leave it”
After “sit” and “stay”, “leave it” is one of the most useful commands you can teach your dog.
You can also try the “automatic leave it” method:
- Have some dog treats ready
- Have your dog on a leash
- Approach poop on the ground
- Watch your dog
- If your dog turns its head away or steps away from poop, say “yes” and reward the dog with the treats
- Repeat this exercise as often as you can
Note that successfully teaching your dog “automatic leave it” behavior is not easy and takes plenty of repetition. Also, teaching a dog “automatic leave it” needs to be tailored to each individual dog for best results. You may be interested to know that you can also teach your dog to recall when it finds poop.
If you catch your dog eating poop, don’t hit the dog, don’t speak to it, and don’t make eye contact with it. Instead, interrupt the poop-eating act by clapping your hands loudly or by shaking a can filled with pennies. Once your dog leaves the stool alone, reward your pet with some treats. Remember that positive reinforcement is always better than negative discouragement when training your dog.
VIDEO: How to teach your dog the “leave it” command
You can also try this method. Offer your dog a treat right after it defecates. This should divert your dog’s attention from the poop to you offering the treat. Repeat as often as possible. Soon, a new behavioral pattern may divert your dog’s attention from poop on the ground.
Increase mental stimulation
Keep your dog mentally stimulated. For example, make every meal a brain or foraging activity. You can use a snuffle or puzzle feeder for this.
In fact, there are tons of toys and games specifically designed to keep your dog mentally stimulated.
Increase activity levels
If you have to leave your puppy alone while you’re away, make sure the dog has plenty of toys to play with.
Remember that puppies are naturally playful. Puppies also need to be around their favorite humans as much as possible. So try to schedule frequent play sessions with your pet.
Note that dog training sessions, such as “sit”, “stay”, and “lie down” exercises are also great occasions for play and bonding with your dog.
And yes, the more your dog plays, the less poop it eats, if at all.
Walk your dog on a leash
Dogs can be very fast when they decide to eat something they found on the ground, including poop.
So use a leash for walks with your dog. When you see poop, shorten the leash so your dog can’t reach it. If your dog looks away from the newly found stool, reward it with a treat to help your dog associate poop-avoiding with treats.
Anti-scavenging muzzles can be useful for dogs who like eating excrements.
We recommend a basket muzzle with a front guard. Just make sure to clean the muzzle after every walk.
When properly introduced, a basket muzzle can be comfortable and not scary to your dog. And yes, a dog wearing a basket muzzle can still pant and eat treats through the muzzle’s holes.
But remember to always supervise a dog that is wearing an anti-scavenging muzzle.
Field guards are a good alternative to basket muzzles. Field guards are especially useful in an area frequented by foxtails.
A head collar keeps your dog’s nose up from the ground. This can keep your dog from eating excrements.
Head collars are usually our last recommendation, however, considering that sniffing the ground is an essential activity for dogs.
By way of compromise, you can use a head collar in an area with plenty of animal poop and take the collar off in poop-free locations.
We don’t recommend head collars for dogs that pull on the leash a lot or suddenly. This is because the sudden force on the neck can cause injury to your dog.
Choose the right food
In some cases, a higher quality diet may help solve the problem of poop eating by your dog.
Generally, a dog needs foods that are rich in high-quality protein. Furthermore, the foods shouldn’t contain fillers, such as soy, corn, wheat, or other grains.
It’s worth noting that some dog owners find success in feeding dogs with raw food. Poop produced after eating raw food is mostly waste and so no longer of much interest to a dog.
Others recommend canned food, as it’s very well digested by dogs and so produces very little food matter in feces.
If you decide to change your dog’s diet, make sure to do this gradually over the course of at least 7 to 10 days. This is because quick diet changes may upset your dog’s stomach, especially in dogs with sensitive stomachs. Fortunately, there are dog food companies that make excellent food for dogs with sensitive stomachs. One such brand is Hill’s, whose food we recently rated as the best dog food for Poodles with sensitive stomach.
If your dog eats too much or too quickly, its poop may include chunks of undigested food. This may promote poop eating.
Frequently asked questions
Is it normal for dogs to eat poop?
It’s quite common for dogs to eat their own poop and poop of other dogs and animals. As many as 1 in 6 dogs eat poop.
Can a dog get sick from eating poop?
A dog that eats poop has an increased risk of contracting diseases such as Salmonella, E.coli, giardia, or parvovirus. Eating poop can also increase the risk of parasite infection.
If your dog only eats its own poop or another household pet’s poop, make sure all your pets are on year-round preventatives and undergo regular fecal exams.
Note that if your dog eats poop and then licks your face, you’re also at risk of getting Salmonella or giardia.
How much pineapple should I give my dog to stop ingesting poop?
Give your dog a few slices of fresh pineapple. Look for fresh pineapples, not canned.
How much pumpkin should I give my dog to stop consuming poop?
Add a couple of teaspoons of canned, unspiced pumpkin to your dog’s food.
Does broccoli stop dogs from eating poop?
Yes, broccoli can be a great remedy for poop-eating behavior. But remember to only use cooked broccoli.
Can green vegetables stop my pup from eating poop?
Yes, eating deterrent products such as green vegetables is another way to stop your dog from eating poop. Just add some spinach, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts to your dog’s food. By the way, green vegetables are also great for older poop-eaters.
Are there any supplements that can help deter dogs from eating poop?
Yes, probiotics or digestive enzyme supplements can help you stop your pup eating excrements.
Always talk to your vet if you decide to introduce supplements to your dog’s diet.
By the way, probiotics are great not only for stopping a dog from eating poop. For example, you can add probiotics to your dog’s diet if your pup suffers from itching or dermatitis. We discuss this in more detail in our article on the best dog food for German Shorthaired Pointers.
How long does it take for a change in diet to stop my doggy from eating poop?
The time it takes for a change in diet to prevent your pup from eating excrements can vary depending on your dog’s age, health, and the underlying causes of the poop-eating behavior.
Can training techniques help stop dogs from eating poop?
Yes, teaching your dog the “leave it” command can stop your pet from eating poop . You can also try the “automatic leave it” method, where you reward your dog for automatically stepping away from poop.
Should I punish my dog if it eats poop?
Never punish your dog for eating poop. Your dog can start associating poop with punishment. This may lead to your dog eating its poop as quickly as possible to hide the evidence.
Is poop-eating behavior always related to dietary deficiencies?
No, not all poop eating is directly related to dietary deficiencies. Some dogs may start eating poop for the following reasons:
- Attention seeking
- Stress and avoiding punishment
- Learning from other dogs
Can a dog eat poop because of health issues?
Yes, a dog can start eating poop if the pet suffers from:
- Enzyme deficiency
- Diabetes and thyroid issues
Should I consult a vet if my dog continues to eat poop despite dietary changes?
Yes, always contact your vet if your dog continues eating poop despite changing your dog’s diet.
Are there any interesting facts related to dogs eating poop?
Yes, eating poop comes with many interesting facts:
- Dogs prefer firm or even frozen poop
- Dogs that steal food from tables also tend to eat feces
- Poop-eating is more common in households with more than one dog
- 85% of poop-eating dogs only eat feces of other dogs rather than their own
- Female dogs are more enthusiastic poop eaters than male dogs
You wanted to find out how to stop your dog from eating poop.
And you wanted to know: What to put in dog food to stop eating poop?
This article told you everything you need to know to help you prevent your doggy from eating poop.
As you can see, your dog may eat poop for two different reasons: behavioral and medical.
You also found out that there is more than one method of stopping your dog eating feces.
You can add special ingredients to your dog’s food, such as pineapples, pumpkin, green vegetables, and more. And you can try methods such as special training commands, minimizing access to poop, using leashes and muzzles, and more.
The great news is: Yes, you can definitely stop your pup from eating poop!
All you need is some basic knowledge, which this article hopefully gave you.
And lastly, make sure to always contact your vet to rule out health reasons for your dog’s poop-eating behavior.
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of illness, pain, or distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.