Category Archives: eating poop

Dog Eating Poop: Everything You Wanted to Know About Dog Poop

It’s not glamorous, but as responsible pet parents we do it every day – we pick up our pets’ poop! Do you ever wonder what our dogs think about our obsession with cleaning up their poop? Well, maybe you do and maybe you don’t, but here we will discuss all things dog poop.

Why is it important to be careful when cleaning up dog poop?

There is a long list of diseases that can transfer from dogs to human via the fecal-oral route. For this reason, you should take care when handling dog poop. These diseases that can transmit from animals to humans called zoonotic diseases. Humans can get zoonotic diseases from contaminated dog poop including salmonella, campylobacter, giardia,roundworms, and hookworms.

Zoonotic diseases are always a bigger concern among susceptible groups of people such as people with immune system disorders, people going through chemotherapy, pregnant women, and organ transplant recipients.

what you need to know about dog poop


Salmonella sp is bacteria belonging to the genus Salmonella. The infection with this disease is also known as salmonellosis. Dogs can carry the bacteria with or without becoming ill. Unfortunately, many dogs do carry salmonella they often obtain from other dogs or even their food. Many commercial kibble diets, and especially raw diets, have tested positive for salmonellosis. If your dog eats these foods it may carry the bacteria. The issue concerns so many that the FDA developed a video on safe food handling. A lick on the face or improper handling of contaminated feces potentially leads to infection in humans.


Campylobacter sp is a similar threat and a common foodborne bacteria for humans. It is found in uncooked (raw) meats and is in virtually all poultry. This is why you must cook poultry thoroughly. Many veterinarians do not support the long-term feeding of raw diets to pets. Instead, many recommend lightly cooked diets like those made by JustFoodForDogs.

For both of these bacteria, the key is prevention. If you feed wholesome, lightly cooked, clean diets that are not contaminated with these bacteria in the first place, they will help prevent fecal contamination with these bacteria. This is important because your dog can carry the bacteria and pass it off in the feces or through a lick on the face.


Giardia sp is a protozoan infection that can also cause moderate to severe GI disease in humans. Giardia exists in the environment in many different strains. Most people develop an immunity to various forms of Giardia over their lifetime, but once again the immunosuppressed or susceptible may be at risk. Transmission is almost exclusively via the fecal-oral route. For this reason, it is sufficient to use reliable plastic bags that are free of any defects or holes. Wash your hands thoroughly after disposing of the bag with feces in it. For those who are susceptible, the use of latex gloves may provide an additional layer of protection.

Intestinal Parasites

Roundworms and Hookworms are intestinal parasites that are most prevalent in younger dogs and have been shown to establish infections in humans, especially children. One form of the disease can cause blindness, which may lead to increased awareness, yet the prevalence of this form of the disease is very rare. One year in the UK, only 52 children were diagnosed with OLM (ocular larval migrans), the form of the disease that causes blindness. Yet the headline read “One Child per Week may be Blinded by Puppies.”

The best method to avoid parasitic infection in humans is proper prevention. Puppies should be dewormed multiple times during puppyhood and adult dogs should receive routine dewormings every 6-12 months.

Step-by-step instructions for safely cleaning up dog poop when:

bernese pup

It happens outdoors

In order to clean up dog poop outdoors, it is best to have your dog poop on grass or sand in the first place. Also, the consistency of the feces matters greatly. Soft poop is more difficult to pick up than firm stool. If your dog has consistently soft stools, a veterinarian should evaluate him, as this could be caused by some of the conditions discussed above.

If on sand or grass, use a thick plastic bag to cover the feces and entrap it, then turn the bag inside out immediately, trapping the feces in the bag. Tie the open end of the bag together and discard into a wastebasket as soon as possible. Some bags have additional features that provide more protection such as double layers on the end in contact with the feces, and drawstrings. Be certain the bag is new and does not have any hole or punctures. If your dog goes on sand or grass, the threat of zoonosis from any feces left behind diminishes. Most bacteria will not survive long in these conditions, although there are always exceptions.

It happens on cement

If your dog goes on cement or a hard surface, you may find it necessary to wash down the surface with water after you pick up the poop as described above. Adding dilute bleach to the water is an additional precaution that will most definitely kill any bacteria or protozoa. If this is an area outside, use a bucket of dilute bleach water and splash it over the stain. To remove any remaining fecal material, scrub the area with a metal brush.

If the person doing the cleaning is immunosuppressed or is susceptible in any way, he/she should not be cleaning up the feces. If there is no other choice, the use of latex gloves may help as an additional precaution.

It happens indoors

If the dog goes indoors then you will pick up the feces in the same fashion as described above but you must also thoroughly clean the surface. Lysol is a great disinfectant that kills virtually all zoonotic diseases and is safe to use on most indoor surfaces. You can disinfect carpet with Lysol as well, but stains may require additional cleaning or steam cleaning for complete removal of the stain.

Make sure to wear dishwashing gloves, then fill a bucket with cold, soapy water and use a laundry stain cleaner like Oxi Clean or similar product. Dip a scrub brush in the soapy water and scrub out the stain until it is no longer visible. Use paper towels or dry towels to dab over the area to absorb as much of the moisture as possible.

Finally, in order to remove any odor of feces, you can use Simple Green Odor Eliminator, which is an excellent odor neutralizer. Keep in mind, this is not necessarily a disinfectant, thus you should follow the steps above first: Lysol, soap and water, scrub, then odor eliminator.

When the actual fecal matter is on your pet

The best thing to do if your dog becomes soiled is to give him a bath with warm water and dog shampoo. If you do not have a dog shampoo, a mild human shampoo like Johnson and Johnson Baby Shampoo will work. Soap and warm water kill most bacteria.

Wearing gloves is another additional precaution that can help protect susceptible individuals if they must be the ones giving the bath.

What’s the final scoop on poop?

Healthy, clean dogs make healthy, formed stools, which are safer and easier to clean up. The best way to reduce any risk of cleaning up your dog’s poop is to feed a high-quality diet that is not contaminated in the first place, keep your dog in good health and monitor his fecal consistency. Many veterinarians now believe that the heavily processed, commercial diets that were once popular actually may cause GI upset due the large amounts of preservatives and chemicals that they contain. Lightly cooked, wholesome diets with no preservatives are ideal. Many people choose to make healthy meals for their dogs at home. The Do It Yourself (DIY) kits provided by JustFoodForDogs is one example.

Prevention is the best strategy when it comes to zoonotic potential, and if your dog is eating the right food and producing healthy poops, then your own health will benefit.

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372

Coprophagia – Dogs Eating Poop

Dealing with Dogs Eating Poop  (Feces)

Coprophagia is the practice of eating stool (feces). There’s nothing more disgusting to a dog owner than seeing their dog eat its own or another dog’s stool, and then to have the dog saunter up, tail wagging, looking for a kiss and a few kind words.

“Why on earth would dogs do such a repulsive thing?” an owner might ask. What on earth is the attraction in this behavior? We may never know for sure but we do have an inkling about what initiates the behavior and can surmise how and why it continues.

The Facts About Coprophagia and Dogs

Coprophagia is not an abnormal behavior for canines in certain situations. Bitches naturally consume their own pup’s feces – presumably, to keep the nest clean. This behavior provides a survival benefit as it prevents unhygienic conditions from developing in the nest; a state of affairs that could lead to disease. The biological drive to eat feces, which is implanted as a survival instinct, compels nursing bitches to ingest their pups’ feces.

In addition, many puppies go through an oral stage in which they explore everything with their mouths, sometimes ingesting a variety of non-food items, including feces.

As time goes by, the majority of pups eventually learn that food tastes better than feces and they swear off the stool-eating habit for the rest of their lives. Some older puppies may continue to eat feces for a few months, but most grow out of the habit after the first year.

Barring nursing bitches, the majority of “normal” adult dogs have absolutely no interest in eating feces.

When Coprophagia Is a Problem for Dogs

Slow learners, “oral retentives,” and pups in which habits are easily ingrained may continue to engage in coprophagia well beyond the accepted “norm” and may engage in it to excess. Such hard-core coprophagics continue the behavior long after their peers have developed new interests. Dogs like this, that seem addicted to the habit, may best be described as “compulsive.”

Below is a list of possible contributing factors though more than one may be operating in any one case.

  • The opportunity to observe the dam eating stool
  • High protein, low residue, puppy food
  • Irregular feeding schedule
  • Feeding inadequate amounts of food
  • Under-stimulating environment
  • Constant opportunity to ingest feces
  • Inadequate attention/supervision

Diagnostic Tests for Dogs that Eat Stool

Whether by nature, nurture, or a combination of factors, coprophagy rears its ugly head as a persistent and irritating habit that some long-suffering dog owners seem fated to endure. There are several different forms of coprophagy but, whatever form it takes, there are probably similar drives and predilections operating. Variations on the theme include:

  • Dogs that are partial only to their own stool
  • Dogs that eat only other dogs’ stool
  • Dogs that eat stool only in the winter if it is frozen solid (“poopsicles”)
  • Dogs that eat only the stool of various other species, often cats

Therapy for Dogs that Eat Stool

There are some “home” remedies that have been practiced, but they rarely work. Here are a few:

  • Adding Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer® or Forbid®, commercially available preparations of pancreatic enzymes, to the dog’s food
  • Adding crushed breath mints to the diet
  • “Doctoring” each stool with Tabasco® in the hopes of discouraging the dog from the habitThe following strategies have met with more success, though it is important to note that results vary:
  • Picking up all available stools (i.e. denying access)
  • Escorting the dog into a “picked up” area and walking him back inside the house immediately after he has successfully passed a bowel movement and before he even has a chance to investigate the fruits of his labor
  • Some dogs try to circumvent their owner’s control by eating the stool as it emerges and for these incorrigible few a muzzle may be necessary
  • Changing the dog’s diet and feeding schedule so that high fiber rations are fed frequently and perhaps by free choice. Hill’s r/d Prescription Diet®, a diet that contains 10 percent fiber is a good option. It may work by allowing the dog to eat to satiation without gaining weight, or it may alter the texture of the dog’s stool, making it less palatable. Dry food seems more effective than wet food in curtailing coprophagia
  • Lifestyle enrichment is also helpful. Make sure your dog has plenty of exercise and spends plenty of quality time with you each day. Some dogs respond when a “Get a job program” is implemented. Such a program is designed to encourage the dog to exercise his natural tendencies by means of activities like chasing, fetching, walking, pseudo-hunting, fly ball, agility training, etc.
  • Teach the LEAVE IT commandAlthough some of the above measures have occasionally been found effective on their own, it best to apply a whole program of prevention for at least six months to nip the behavior in the bud. If during this time, if the dog gets access to stool and ingests it, some ground will be lost. Hopefully, though, progress will eventually be made, even if it’s one step back for every two forward.Despite all these modifications in environment and training, some dogs persist in the habit of coprophagia. For these dogs, the compulsive disorder diagnosis may be worth considering. Some obstinate cases respond to the judicious use of human anti-depressants.Although controversial, the obsessive-compulsive disorder diagnosis seems to fill the bill, on occasion at least, and it meets a couple of the scientific criteria for diagnosis.
  • Face validity: The dog appears obsessed with eating stool and compelled to ingest it.
  • Predictive validity: Extreme, refractory, coprophagy should follow a genetic predilection, occurring more frequently in anxious breeds of dog. The latter appears to be true, as the condition seems to be more common in certain breeds (e.g. retrievers). Also, the condition should, and often does, respond to therapy with anti-obsessional drugs.

Home Care for Coprophagia

In the majority of cases, coprophagy can be successfully treated at home by means of a combination of management changes (exercise, diet, and supervised outdoor excursions) and environmental measures, but be wary of the occasional medical condition that masquerades the same way (your vet can help rule out such conditions).

Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny

We offer pet services such as:  Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372