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My puppy eats his own poop: why is this?

It's disgusting but normal behaviour, advises vet Tony Buckwell

gun-shy puppy

Puppies should be introduced carefully to gunfire

Q: Our new puppy eats his own poop. I’m told this might be a sign that he is lacking something in his diet. What would you advise I do? Is there anything I can do to discourage this revolting behaviour. (Read more on feeding puppies here.)

When a puppy eats his own poop

A: In point of fact, eating faeces can actually represent normal behaviour for dogs. Although we might find it disgusting, it’s usually relatively harmless when a puppy eats his own poop. Nevertheless, it’s probably something to be discouraged since there is always a risk of transmitting some parasites whose eggs may be found in animal faeces, and these can be transmitted to your puppy if eaten. Always ensure your dog is regularly wormed, and go to your vet for the latest worming advice and the best products to use. Some medications can also pass through an animal and into their faeces. (Read more on advice on worming your dog and the vaccinations that all puppies should have.)

As far as puppies are concerned, eating poop can represent a learned behaviour. Good canine mothers instinctively lick their puppies to help them go to the toilet and keep them clean. They also eat their puppy’s faeces to keep them and the area hygienic, free from diseases and parasites. Unfortunately, some puppies will instinctively copy their mother’s behaviour, and some never seem to grow out of the habit.

You will need to teach your puppy ‘leave it’ whenever tempted to pick up faeces, and more importantly give it lots of praise and attention if it chooses not to eat its own poop.

You might also like to read – why you shouldn’t let your dog drink from puddles.