The poopscicle is to dogs what Girl Scout cookies are to humans. We wait all year for them to be “in season” and then binge on them for weeks at a time, desperate to eat as many as they can before the weather changes and the supply diminishes. But the difference is that, well, eating poop is super gross. And unlike Thin Mints, eating it does nothing to improve a dog’s breath.
And yet, it’s incredibly common, so we wanted to know why. Here’s the, er, scoop.
1. It’s Natural.
What seems disgusting to us finnicky humans is entirely natural for a dog. Mama dogs will lick their pups clean, ingesting their dirty business in the process, and will often eat their puppies’ poops to make sure their home stays clean and hidden from predators. Many pups will also start eating feces as little guys, and while many grow out of the behavior, some don’t. (You know how kids go through a phase where they put everything in their mouths? Dogs go through the same phase. But their phase includes poop.) And, well, many dogs just straight-up find it delicious.
2. Monkey See, Monkey Do.
Weird as this may seem, you might have taught your dog this behavior. If your dog watches you pick up the poop in your yard or on your walks, he can learn to do the same — such a helpful buddy! Pro tip: try to clean your yard without your dog’s supervision.
3. A Tidy Home is a Happy Home.
Lots of dogs become poop-eaters if they’re crated or penned somewhere and have an accident. In order to clean up their space (or hide the evidence of a behavior they know you won’t love), they’ll eat the poop. You can help keep this from happening by not reacting too much if your pup poops in the house — it isn’t ideal, obviously, but a major negative reaction from you could encourage your dog to hide the evidence in the future — by putting it into his stomach.
4. Nutritional Needs.
Some dogs just aren’t getting the nutritious, balanced diets they need, and so they eat their poop in an effort to make up for a deficiency. The same thing can happen for dogs who are fed too much or too little, so make sure you’ve worked with your vet to figure out what type of food and how much of it is best for your buddy.
5. Medical Issues.
This is the very least likely reason your dog is eating poop, so don’t let the Internet panic you. But there’s a chance that, if your dog is a chronic poop-eater, he may have a parasite or illness that’s keeping him from digesting his food properly. If you’re concerned this is the case, bring your buddy to the vet to check it out.