Ask a Vet

Why Does My Dog Eat Deer Poop? And How To Stop Him Getting Sick

By Kerry
Updated on

Why does my dog eat deer poop and how to stop him getting sick

My dog gives me such joy and makes me laugh incessantly – Stana Katic 

We’re all in this wonderful, bizarre, and often strange journey called life, and all that we really have to rely on as we travel down its path is each other. 

It’s the relationships that we form with each other that make us who we are and shape the patterns of our days, and there is no stronger, more fierce, or loving bond than the one that you, or any of us, share with our dogs.

They’re our best friends, our most trusted companions, and the one true friend that we know we can rely on when things, as they always inevitably do, get rough. 

But as much as we love them, there are things that even the most pampered dogs do that make us shudder with disgust and turn our stomachs.

And right at the top of that list, is the thing that makes most of us wretch and feel nauseous when we see them doing it, and that’s their fondness for eating poop. 

If you were worried that there was something wrong with your dog and that they were suffering from some strange compulsion that compelled them to eat poop, don’t be.

Your dog isn’t alone, and coprophagia (or feces eating), is an incredibly common behavioral trait among dogs, and during their lifetimes, it’s an impulse and an urge that most canines give into.

It doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily good for them, but it’s something that’s hardwired into their brains, and when that genetic programming kicks in, your dog obeys it without thought or question. 

Why Do Dogs Love Deer Poop? And Is It Bad For Them? 

Of all the different types of poop that dogs could, and do, choose to eat while they’re out and about and adventuring with you, deer poop is one of the most dangerous and poses the greatest risk to their health. 

Don’t panic, because, on the grand scale of “Things The Are Dangerous” to my dog, deer poop is way down close to the bottom of it, but there are some potential problems associated with eating it that you should be aware of so that if your dog does start chowing down on it, you’ll know what to look out for, and we’ll talk about them a little later on.

The first, and most important issue to address, is why dogs seem to love eating deer poop, what makes them eat it and why they’re attracted to it.  Like us, dogs are complicated, complex creatures and there isn’t one definitive answer to the poop-eating problem.

There are actually a number of reasons why your dog might seem to enjoy ingesting deer droppings, and we’re going to take a closer look at some of the most common of those reasons

Dogs Just Like The Taste Of Poop 

Let’s begin with the most obvious reason, that dogs just like the way that poop tastes.

We may think that eating poop is gross and disgusting, but that doesn’t mean that dogs necessarily think the same way that we do. There might be something in the deer poop, and something in the way it smells that draws your dog to it like a moth to a flame. 

Dogs are, for the most part, carnivores, but there’s also an omnivorous side to their nature, and sometimes their bodies tell them that they need to eat grass and vegetation and as both form the majority of a deer’s diet if a dog smells all of those things in one place, he’s going to make a beeline for it.

Just because we can’t smell those things in the poop, it doesn’t mean that our dogs can. Their sense of smell is between (depending on the breed of dog) thirty and one hundred thousand times more powerful than ours is, so they can obviously smell something in it that we can’t. 

Smell and taste are everything to a dog, they’re how they explore and find their way in the world, and there’s something in poop, deer poop especially (which is due to the deer’s diet) that makes them want to try it. 

And if they find that they like the way it tastes, every single time that they pick up the scent of poop they’ll keep going back for more. The simple truth is some dogs just like the taste of deep poop. 

Nutritional Balance And “Natural Healing” 

Even if you feed your dog the best food you possibly can, sometimes it doesn’t contain all of the nutrients that your dog needs, or he might have digestive problems or lack the necessary enzymes that his gut needs in order to absorb the nutrients that he needs from his dog food.

Any single one or a combination of those factors will lead him to try and find the nutrients that he needs elsewhere, and as we’ve already mentioned because deer poop is rich in vegetation, if he needs the nutrients that are in it, your boy will eat it. 

Parasites can also compel dogs to eat poop, and if they’ve set up home in his gut, they’ll have started to take their share of the nutrients your dog gets through his food before his system can absorb them.

To try and redress that balance and combat the nutritional deficiency that a possible parasite infestation might be causing, your boy will eat deer poop, which as you already know, is an ideal source of vegetation-rich nutrition. 

If your dog does start eating deer poop while you’re out, it might be prudent to deworm him, just in case this is the root cause of the issue. It doesn’t matter how careful you are, or how closely you watch him, sometimes dogs pick up parasites in the most unexpected places and ways. 

It’s An Instinct Thing

Nature and nurture are equally responsible for helping to cement a dog’s personality, the way in which they conduct themselves, and the things that they do.

As they learn some of their behavioral traits through observation, if he’s seen other dogs eating deer poop while he was still in the formative stages of puppyhood, your dog might just accept that it’s a normal part of everyday life and start doing it because he thinks that’s what dogs are supposed to do. 

Conversely, some animal psychologists think that coprophagia (poop eating) is part of a dogs genetic pack instinct, and it’s a way of protecting their territory from possible incursion by invading animals, and keeping the area that they nest in free from feces and the possible dangers that it might pose to their young.

Nature has a funny way of doing things, and poop eating is just one of the myriad of weird ways in which she’s instilled the protective instinct in dogs. 

Boredom Is A Powerful Motivator 

As odd as it sounds, the reason that your dog might be finding solace in deer poop could be because he’s bored or anxious. He could be acting out or finding a way to alleviate his boredom and anxiety by eating deer poop in the same way that he’s drawn to chew your slippers and the soft furnishings in your home. 

Boredom and anxiety can make dogs do the most bizarre things, even eating poop. He might just need a little extra attention or a game of fetch and if either of those things does distract him from the poop while you’re walking him, then that’s a pretty good indicator that he’s just looking for you to become more involved in his life. 

He’s Just Hungry

It doesn’t matter how much you feed some dogs, they never seem to stop being hungry and they just want to keep on eating. That urge to continually eat could be the reason that your boy eats deer poop.

If he thinks that he’s hungry, he’s going to want to find something to satisfy his appetite, and if deer poop is the only thing that he can find, then he’s going to eat it. 

If he’s driven to fill his stomach and always wants to make sure that it’s full, then he’s going to listen to his tummy and eat whatever he can, whenever he can. And that, unfortunately, includes deer poop. 

Why does my dog eat deer poop and how to stop him getting sick

Will Deer Poop Make My Dog Sick? 

The short answer is possibly, and the longer answer is almost definitely. If he gorges on it and eats too much, then it’ll almost certainly make him sick and he’ll start vomiting immediately. 

There’s also a pretty good chance that he’ll be lagged by diarrhea, as any change in a dog’s diet can have a devastating short-term effect on their gut and digestive system, and this nearly always manifests itself as diarrhea. 

So yes, there’s a pretty good chance that eating deer poop will make him sick.

Parasites And More

It isn’t the short-term health effects of eating deer poop that are the main cause for concern, it’s the possible long-term problems that it can be responsible for creating that are the most worrying.

Deer are ideal hosts for roundworm and whipworm, and if they are infected with these parasites, then their poop will be too, which means that if your dog eats it, he’ll be infected, and end up becoming a host for those parasites too. 

Both of them can make life incredibly unpleasant for your boy, so it’s always best to visit your vet if you become worried about your dog, explain to the surgeon that your dog has a fondness for deer poop, and they’ll treat him with the right medication that’ll ensure those particular parasites won’t bother him again. 

Where there’s poop there’s often pee, and where there’s animal pee, there’s leptospirosis, which is a particularly nasty and virulent disease that’s transmitted through urine.

Again, if you see your dog eating deer poop, take him to the vet and explain that you’re also worried about the risk of lepto, and he’ll treat your boy. 

Then there’s the slightly less worrying (he’d have to eat an awful lot of deer pop for it to be the instigating factor in this problem) possibility that eating deer poop can lead to your boy developing tooth decay.

Poop is soft and full of all sorts of different bacteria, which means that if your boy does eat too much deer poop, it can make his teeth rot. 

How To Stop Your Dog Eating Deer Poop

If you’re worried, and you should be, about your dog eating deer poop when you take him for a walk, there are a few ways that you effectively prevent him from eating it while you’re trekking through the great outdoors together.

Distraction –  Make sure that you fill your pockets with your boys, favorite tasty treats before you leave the house. Then, if your boy does become preoccupied with a pile of deer poop while you’re out, use the treats to distract him from the poop.

Offer him something better to eat every time he goes toward the poop, and he’ll soon learn to come when you call him away from his deer poop snack. 

Alternately, if your dog isn’t motivated by food, you could always use a tennis ball, another toy, or a stick, or wherever else he loves to divert his interest from poop and give him something else to focus on instead. 

Tell Him No – Depending on how well your dog obeys vocal commands, you could always just try telling him ‘No’ using a sharp, direct and abrupt command. If he listens once, he’ll listen again and it might be enough to control his desire for deer poop. 

Change Your Route – If your dog usually stumbles across deer poop in the same place on your walk, then by changing the route that you take, you’ll minimize the chances that he’ll get to actually eat deer poop.

After all, if he can’t find any poop, or if there isn’t any on the route that you follow while walking him, then he can’t, and won’t be able to eat it. It’s a simple, straight, and easy preventative measure, but it works.


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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.