17 Reasons Why Pugs May Eat Poop (And How To Prevent It)


There may come a time when your pug will develop the unpleasant habit of eating their own poop. While this practice isn’t considered to be too harmful, it is very unhygienic, especially for human standards. And there will be times when this can cause your dog to get sick. It’s imperative that you figure out the cause for it and stop the behavior from repeating.

“Coprophagia” is the term coined for this disgusting habit. It is the ingestion of a canine’s (or another animal’s) poop. There are several reasons that can be linked to this and they include issues related to, health conditions, behavioral, environmental stresses, nutritional, and even instinctive behavior.

Understanding the root cause for why a pug may eat faeces is vital as it can affect their health. This is especially the case if it’s not even their own stool, as infectious diseases can become an issue. This behavior can also signal underlying health concerns that drives them to fill certain voids. There are so many factors to ensuring that your pug lives an optimal life, so let’s break this down.

1. Intestinal Parasites

There are many types of parasites that include, hookworms, roundworms, giardia, tapeworms, coccidia and whipworms. These parasites can lead a dog to eating while never fully feeling satisfied. As a result, an infected pug may choose to eat their stool as a means to filling this hunger and to make up for any nutritional shortfalls. Below is a helpful table breaking down these parasites, so you know what to look out for:

ParasiteOverviewSymptoms
HookwormParasites that anchor themselves to the lining of the intestinal wall. They feed on tissue fluids and blood.Anemia, pale gums, weakness, weight loss, bloody bowel movements, itchy paws, poor growth, death.
RoundwormRoundworms live inside a dog’s intestines and will feed on partly digested food. They’re quite common, especially in puppies.Potbelly, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, belly aches, dull coat, weight loss, malnourishment.
GiardiaGiardia inhibits a dog’s ability to properly absorb nutrients, water, and elctrolytes.Diarrhea, weight loss, vomiting, dehydration, and a dull coat.
TapewormTapeworms live in the small intestine and will feed on the contents inside before being passed through a dog’s poop.Weight loss, vomiting, itchy bottom.
CoccidiaCoccidia is an intestinal tract infection and are found in dog feces and soil contaminated with feces.Diarrhea, weakness, vomiting, weight loss, dehydration.
WhipwormWhipworms are one of the most common paraistes, and live in the cecum and colon (large intestine) of a dog. These parasites lay eggs in the host, which is passed in a dog’s stool, thus infecting the evironmentWeight loss, diarrhea, bloody stools, anemia.

As you can see, some of these parasites cause direct impact to a dog’s health. This leads to the unpleasant habit of poop eating in order to fill nutritional deficiencies. However, others indirectly impact a dog as eating the infected poop may cause the transmission. Due to these reasons, it is advised that you focus on deterring your pug from eat any faeces.

Prevention: It is highly recommended that whenever any of the listed signs are shown, you immediately take your pug to the vet for a full diagnosis. I would also suggest that you routinely administer worming medication to help prevent infections. Additionally, you’d want to rid the yard of any faeces (including that of other animals) to avoid this situation altogether. Keeping your dog on a leash in public areas can help you force them away from poop that may be present. Training is a must, as teaching them commands like “leave it” can help a dog associate their stool as something negative.

2. Digestive Enzyme Deficiency

The domesticated canine is often fed a diet that consists of a lot of processed food. Unlike their wild ancestors, dog food today come in a sealed package and often doesn’t contain the appropriate amounts of digestive enzymes that are needed. These help a dog digest and properly absorb the nutrients, and without it, they pass right through the system.

It is often not enough for a dog to naturally produce enough enzymes, which is why it’s vital that they are part of their daily diet. Adding enzyme supplements can help improve nutrient digestion, and can come in the form of meat tenderizers or food additives. These can be applied to their daily mix. When more protein is digested, it usually results in a less palatable stool, thus deterring consumption. Natural supplements for enzymes like yogurt, papaya, and cottage cheese can also be used to make their bowel movements taste less pleasant. By ensuring that your pug is getting the proper nutrition will limit the likelihood of diseases.

3. Malabsorption Syndrome

Intestinal malabsorption is a condition that prevents the absorption of nutrients within the small intestines. It is usually related to some form of issue within the small bowel or the pancreas. Weight loss and chronic diarrhea are very common symptom, as a pug may not be getting the vital nutrients necessary, even if it is eating the daily recommended amounts.

It can lead to your pup eating their own stool as a supplement for the missing minerals and nutrients in their system. Other symptoms include, eating non-food items like trash, high volumes of smell and oil looking stools, flatulence, lethargy, vomiting, a poor coat, grumbling in the stomach, and depression. As with all worrying symptoms, please ensure that you take your pug to see a vet in order to get diagnosed and treated.

4. Cushing’s Disease

Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s Disease) is the exposure to high levels of the cortisol hormone over a long period of time, which may increase hunger and thirst. This can result in a pug eating their stool in an attempt to satisfy their perceived need for more food. While cortisol help dogs keep blood sugar level in check, fight infections, and respond to stress; too much or too little of it can cause problems. Symptoms include panting, tiredness, hair loss, and skin infections (Fetch by WebMD, 2019).

5. Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that prevents the body from being able to use carbohydrates properly. When these sugars are not able to feed the body’s cells, it literally starves a dog. The lack if insulin produced results in excessive thirst, urination, extreme hunger, and weight loss. Even if a dog’s appetite is high, the food is never taken in and used as energy. Their hunger is never satisfied, which may lead a pug suffering with diabetes to resort to eating poop. In order to stabilize sugar levels, a veterinarian can treat it through insulin therapy. It is usually required for the entire life of the dog.

6. Hyperthyroidism

When a dog overproduces the thyroid hormone, it increases their metabolism. As a result, this leads to an increased appetite, which again, may cause a pug to resort to eating its own stool to feel satiated. Often, this medical condition leads to weight loss, excessive thirst, vomiting, and even depression. Treatment can vary depending on the severity of the condition, and it’s best to leave that at the hands of your veterinarian.

7. Underfeeding

Unless your pug is suffering from obesity, they should be fed 2-3 meals per day. Underfeeding your dog and placing them on a caloric deficit will leave them feeling unsatiated. When their body lacks the necessary food that comes with minerals and vitamins, they start craving for it. A pug’s canine instinct will force them to search for ways to fulfil these voids. When this happens, it can lead them to eating their own stool.

To prevent this, try to gradually increase the quantity of their meals. You can also try feeding them healthy treats and long-lasting snacks throughout the day. My pug loves munching on a pork bone, and it keeps him occupied for hours!

8. Food Quality

Not all dog foods are created equally, whether dry, wet or frozen. Cheaper dog foods (1-3 star rating) will usually contain some form of filler that holds no nutritional value. This means, less vitamins, protein, benefits, and even calories, while containing unhealthy fats that’s bad for digestion. Fillers help plump up dog food so that it appears to be bigger and more than what it really is. Truthfully, your pug may only be ingesting 25%-75% of their required daily intake per serving. You also want to avoid ingredients including cereals, grains, preservatives, artificial chemicals and other by-products (coloring and flavoring). They’re things that can cause flatulence and indigestion which may lead to other health problems down the line.

A good indicator to gauge whether the food given to them is nutrient dense enough for your pug to be at a healthy level is by monitoring their weight. If you’re feeding them their recommended serving but they’re seemingly losing weight or not gaining the necessary amount of weight, then perhaps you need to check the ingredients on the label. Filler components will pass right through the body, leading to constant hunger. There are resources available that can be used to research the best brand for your pug.

Look at changing your pug’s diet by feeding them higher quality foods that are rated 4-5 stars. Avoid anything that has “whole meat” listed as a primary ingredient as that’s mostly made up with water (up to 70% while only containing a maximum of 18% protein). Rather, you want to ensure they’re being fed “meat meal”, which will contain approximately 65% protein and only 10% water. Hot tip: Gradually introduce new foods by mixing it in with the old feed, and increase the ratio every time until their meals only consist of the new kibble mix. Pugs have sensitive gastrointestinal tracts, so that a drastic diet change may upset their stomach.

Ultimately, the more nutrient dense foods should help satisfy their hunger, and provide all necessary nutrients and minerals. This should hopefully stop your pug from having the need to consume anything extra, including poop.

9. Nutritional Deficiencies

As touched on in the previous point, foods with higher nutritional value will help a dog feel more satiated. When dogs are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin-B, it can lead them to eating faeces in an attempt to fill that nutritional void. For this reason, it is worth trying a dog multivitamin as a supplement alongside their diet. Kelp and bentonite can also be used to supplement missing minerals. As always, it’s advised that you speak to your vet before administering anything.

10. Stress

Stress can play a major factor in the way a dog behaves. Specifically, pugs are known to have a clingy nature and are prone to “separation anxiety” disorder. Eating their own stool may be an attempt to cope with feelings of worry and detachment. A pug suffering from separation anxiety will panic when their owner is not present.

Ultimately, the best way to deal with it is to ensure your pug is getting enough physical and mental stimulation, and to give your pooch the quality attention that it needs. Other helpful techniques mentioned in this article that can also be implemented to help deal with it. However, if none are effective then seeking help from a veterinary behaviorist can help relieve some anxiety for your pup through behavioral modification training.

11. Boredom

Boredom can often lead to frustration if a pug is not stimulated enough. They may resort to poop eating in an attempt to get a reaction out of their owners, even if it is a negative one. The best thing to do when this happens is to not overreact, otherwise they will continue to associate that action with getting attention. Pugs should be getting 20-30 minutes of exercise per day to help burn off any excess energy, as well as to keep their weight in check. The owner must also be spending quality time with their pet through play and obedience training.

12. Neglect

Pugs are companion dogs and want nothing more but to stay close to their owners. They will follow you around the house like they’re your shadow, and for this reason, are known as “velcro dogs”. They’re not a dog breed that does well in isolation, and studies have shown that dogs that are kept alone are more likely to eat poop compared to those that live with people. Coprophagia is also common in abandoned and street dogs, as the lack of food and resources will force them to consume faeces to survive.

If your pug must be left alone for extended periods of time, it’s worthwhile providing them with smart toys. These treat-filled puzzles can keep a dog occupied for hours while alone. Not only that, but pugs are very motivated by food, so will like cope just fine while you’re gone.

13. Shame

A pug may decide that it’s best for it to remove the evidence by eating it if they have pooped in a spot that they shouldn’t have. Feelings of guilt may push them to clean this mess up before their owner catches them. This can be prevalent in households whereby a pug’s owner may have punished them in a harsh manner in the past. Pugs don’t respond well to this and will be visibly upset.

This theory can become a vicious cycle, as pooping in inappropriate places may get them in trouble. Yet, eating it to get rid of the evidence is just as bad. To avoid this, it’s best to implement a regular schedule for your pug to pass their bowel movements. Adding to that, it’s recommended that you train your dog with positive affirmation rather than excessive punishment. Pugs tend to learn better with praises after obeying and doing the right things, so they can positively associate this action as something good.

14. Instinctive Behavior

Our pugs have been around since 400 B.C. and dogs have been domesticated for tens of thousands of years. But their wild scavenger instincts are still ingrained in them for survival. Some have suggested that their ancestors would scavenge for food when scarce, and this included eating the faeces of other wild animals. While this is a far cry from today’s standards, whereby our pooches are fed multiple times a day out of a sealed package, it doesn’t change the fact that this is part of their DNA.

It is said that wild dogs will also attempt to cover the scent of their stool by rolling in it. Mothers will often consume the faeces of her young pups to achieve the same goal. They will do this until their pups are old enough to leave the den to defecate. To avoid these instinctive behaviors from kicking it, it’s advised that you keep their area clean of any poop, implement a regular toilet schedule, and to ensure that your pug is fed regularly.

15. Puppy Behavior

If your pug is exhibiting this behavior of stool eating as a puppy, then just realise that it’s actually quite common. It’s a temporary behavior in most cases and won’t be harmful. They generally grow out of it after a year old and is considered to be a habitual pattern. As per the last point, a puppy tends to mimic their mother’s primitive evolutionary ways. But they can also mistake it for food if they’re constantly smelling the faecal matter from their mother’s breath or regurgitated food.

Puppies eating their own poop, known as “autocoprophagia”, is harmless. But their curiosity will likely lead them to eating the stool of other animals as well, known as “allocoprophagia”. This is when it can be dangerous as faeces from other dogs and animals may contain toxins, viruses, and parasites. It is vital that you closely monitor what they consume as a puppy.

16. Dominance

Dogs are known to be pack animals with clear hierarchical structures. If there is more than one pet in the household, and your pug isn’t the alpha, they may eat poop to show their submissiveness. In a 2012 study by Dr. Benjamin Hart, it was observed that coprophagia was more common in multi-dog households. Only 20% of dogs in a single-dog home showed this habit, while homes with three dogs saw this habit rise to 33% (American Kennel Club, 2020).

17. Pack Mentality

Contrary to the previous point, sometimes stronger pack members within the household will consume the stool of weaker canine members. It is hypothesized that this is an innate behavior to protect the pack from predators in the wild. This is especially the case when those members are older and weaker, in which their bowel movements may be involuntary.

Preventing Your Dog From Eating Poop

While a lot of these points were touched on throughout the article, I thought it would be worthwhile summarizing these points to conclude the post.

  • Training: teaching your pug the commands “stay, stop, leave it” is necessary, as this give you a chance to then clean up their stool. When they obey, it is advised that you positively affirm this through treats and praises, so that they associated this action appropriately. According to Dr. Hart, poop eating dogs are no harder to house train than any other dogs.
  • Cleaning: ensure that their safe space, play area, and yard is always clean of faeces. The lack of poop present will limit the opportunity for it to be eaten.
  • Routine: having a regular time each day for you to take your pug to use the toilet will lessen the chance for accidents. Not only will it keep their area clean, it is a chance for you to walk your pug.
  • Supervise: when they are in public spaces like the park, watch for droppings from other dogs and animals. Keeping them on a leash will allow you to forcefully pull them away from faeces that may be present. It can also give you enough control to be able to freely clean their bowel movements.
  • Physical and mental stimulation: this can be achieved through exercise, smart toys, obedience training, and spending quality time with your pug. This helps lessen the feelings of stress, boredom, and neglect. Thus, it should prevent from eating their poop as a coping mechanism.
  • Quality of food: it’s important that the food you feed your pug is of a high quality. Missing nutrients may force them to supplement this void by eating their poop. Actual multivitamins and enzyme supplements can be added to their diet if necessary.
  • Quantity of food: ensuring that they don’t go hungry is vital. Feeding them the appropriate amount is key, and that should consist of 2-3 meals per day.
  • Deterrents: taste-aversion products can make a pug’s stool less appealing to eat. For example, adding meat tenderizer to their kibble is a home remedy that will make their poop taste terrible.
  • Separation with other pets: a baby gate can be used to separate your pug from other pets. Especially if you own a cat as well, you can install one of these to prevent your pug from getting into the cat’s domain. It can prevent your pooch from snacking out of the cat’s exposed litter box.

Related Questions

What to put in dog food to stop them from eating poop? Adding meat tenderizers to their kibble and pineapple into their diet will make their stool taste terrible. There are also commercial products over the counter that are available for you to purchase.

How do I clean my pug’s mouth after eating poop? As pugs have sensitive eyes, you’d want to use some sort of hypoallergenic wipe for dogs. Use the wipe to get into their folds as faeces can get trapped in there and cause an infection.

What can I do if my pug threw up after eating poop? Coprophagia can sometimes cause infectious diseases or parasites if it’s not their own stool that’s being eaten. As a result, it can cause gastroenteritis which leads to diarrhea and vomiting. Seek help from a vet as soon as this happens.

References

American Kennel Club, 2020. Why Dogs Eat Poop and How to Stop It.

Burke, A., 2016. The Facts You Need to Know About Giardia in Dogs.

Burke, A., 2017. Whipworms in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention.

Fetch by WebMD, 2019. Does My Dog Have Tapeworms?.

Fetch by WebMD, 2020. Roundworms in Dogs.

Horwitz, D. & Landsberg, G., n.d. Dog Behavior Problems – Coprophagia.

Wagwalking, n.d. Intestinal Malabsorption in Dogs.

Ward, E. & Panning, A., n.d. Hookworm Infection in Dogs.

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