Seeing your beloved Beagle eat poop like it was some gourmet dog dinner is not a pleasant experience! When I first spied Bracken (our first Beagle from over ten years ago) chow down on her poop, I wondered what on earth was going on! Be comforted in the fact that you are not alone. Coprophagia (Poo Eating) is more common than you might think among our Beagle companions. In this post, we will explain why they do it, the possible reasons behind it and what you can do to limit this unpleasant act.
There are many reasons why a Beagle might eat poop. Boredom, seeking attention, cleaning up after puppies, hiding the evidence, keeping their space clean. Health and nutritional issues, infrequent meals or separation anxiety all could lead your dog to eat poop.
So, let’s dive in and explore the reasons why a cute, rascally Beagle would eat poop, and what you can do to deter them from doing it.
What is Coprophagia?
Ok, firstly Coprophagia is the term used to describe the eating of faeces by dogs (and other species) and can include the faeces of other dogs as well as their own.
Nothing is grosser than realising your dog is munching down on a poop, either their own or another dog’s poop! Beagles are some of the most curious dogs. While some dogs can be particular and fickle, most Beagles will eat anything and everything. Let’s explore why a Beagle would eat poop.
Is your dog bored or seeking attention?
A Beagle could be eating poop out of sheer boredom, as a way to pass the time, which could be a sign of an under-stimulated Beagle.
Beagles are usually happy, outgoing and social hounds. Most hounds generally speaking need to be kept stimulated and well-exercised. If your dog is at home all day by itself, with not much to do, he’ll find a way to pass the time.
As Beagles are inquisitive, if there is poop in reach, he may decide it’s worth investigating. He may decide it’s a worthy treat and help himself. A tasty morsel like this is even more tempting if he’s kept in a crate or kennel all day long. The temptation to eat poop may be too much.
A bored Beagle may use eating poop as a way to get your attention, knowing that he’ll get your focus when you see him eating dog poop! He gets the pleasure of hunting for poop with the bonus of your undivided attention as you try to dissuade him from taking a mouthful. He knows this an excellent opportunity for him to interact with you, Win-Win for him!
Keep your Beable buddy well exercised, try to take them on at least two walks per day. You can keep him stimulated by playing games and with regular training. If your Beagle spends a lot of time on his own, then think about asking someone to spend a little time with him during the day. Perhaps you could spend your lunchtime with him? Look for ways to keep him stimulated when you are not around. You owe it to him to give him regular toilet breaks, ensuring his own space is free from poop and temptation.
We wrote an article about how much exercise a Beagle needs, you can read it here.
Hiding the evidence
It might seem natural to get angry with your Beagle for doing a poop in an inappropriate place. Nobody likes finding poop in the home. However, your Beagle loves nothing more than pleasing you and pooping in the home is usually the last resort for him. Maybe he was left alone in the house too long is not fully house trained, or perhaps it was just a one-off accident.
Either way, getting angry with him will only make your Beagle think poop is a bad thing and may resort to hiding the evidence in future. He may take that behaviour outside, eating other poop he sees so that you don’t get angry or displeased with him. He may form the habit from merely wanting to please you.
If he poops in the house, remember, it’s an accident. Please don’t make a big fuss, and please, under no circumstances, rub his nose in it. Clean it up and don’t give him any reason to want to hide the evidence in future. It’s down to you figure out why he pooped in the house and to make sure he has the correct training and opportunity to do his toileting in an appropriate place.
Keeping their house in order
Sometimes a Beagle will eat poop to keep their space clean and tidy. A dog crated or kept in a kennel any length of time is more likely to do this. Dogs are like us; they like a clean place to sleep and rest, away from where they would typically take a poop. A beagle restricted to a small space may have no alternative but to eat his poop to keep his area nice and clean.
If a bitch has puppies, it’s quite natural for the mother to keep the den clean. It’s possible the mother still has the instinct to hide the poop from predators. For the mom, eating the puppies poop keeps the den clean and the puppies safe from predators.
Puppies may see mum eating poop and, being inquisitive and curious Beagles; they decide to give it a go. It’s not unusual for them to eat things they shouldn’t as part of their adventures, including poop.
The good news is that most puppies grow out of the poop eating phase. However, until they do, it’s crucial to pick up poop as quickly as possible to avoid either the puppies or mum from eating it.
In some cases, it could be your Beagle is hungry or their meal times spaced too far apart. Poor quality food means they may lack essential vitamins and minerals and search for these from other sources.
Ideally, your Beagle should be on a raw, whole food diet. We feed all of Beagles on a raw meat diet, with extras such as fresh vegetables, tripe and bones. Kibble is ok but check the quality of ingredients to ensure he’s getting a healthy, balanced diet.
Create a routine by feeding your Beagle at regular intervals. He’ll soon form a habit of when mealtimes are and will happily remind you when dinner is due!
If your dog has just one meal a day then eating poo maybe a sign that they need to eat at more regular intervals, try introducing two feeds per day. Giving him enough food during the day and at regular intervals, means he is less likely to look for other food sources. However, a Beagle is ALWAYS on the lookout for an extra snack between meals, so be vigilant.
It’s worth noting that many Beagles just like the taste of poop. Yep, it makes no sense to us, but that makes no difference to a Beagle. Some just like to eat poop, and that’s that.
Stress and Anxiety
Different dogs may have various anxieties, fears, and stress triggers that may result in poop eating. If a Beagle has separation anxiety, they may display some odd behaviours, and eating poo could be one such behaviour. However, poop eating usually only occurs when the dog is extremely anxious.
Try to ascertain if there is a trigger to your dog eating poop. You can find ways to avoid those triggers while you get help to treat them.
We have written an article discussing whether to get a second Beagle and are Beagles better in pairs? You can read it here.
Health and Nutrition
If your Beagle is eating poop and you have ruled out many of the other possible causes, then it could be due to health or nutritional issues. If you suspect the reason your Beagle eats poop is due to a medical or nutritional problem, then go and see your vet as soon as possible. We could list the possible health nutritional reasons your dog may poop. Still, we feel that would be irresponsible as we are not qualified to do so. The best thing to do is to call your preferred vet straight away and book an appointment to discuss your concerns.
What can you do to stop your Beagle eating poop?
We all agree that our fury Beagle friends are gross for eating poop. In most cases, poop eating can be eradicated or at least limited by using a common-sense approach.
With puppies try to catch them early, a firm “No” and remove the temptation quickly and without fuss. The same can be done with adults, though an adult Beagle can be a stubborn beast, and may need extra persuasion! An adult Beagle may require more time and training to discourage them from eating poop.
Ensure your Beagle has a varied whole food diet, with the correct quantity of food for their weight and fed at regular intervals. Ensure they are toilet trained and given plenty of opportunities to poop in an appropriate place. Supervise their poop breaks, keep the back yard clean and free from poop temptation, pick-up quickly and frequently. Remember not to make a fuss if they do have an accident in the home; you don’t want to make them feel that pooping is bad.
A happy Beagle is one that has regular exercise, stimulated with play and training. By being proactive, you can reduce and in some cases, eradicate your Beagle from eating poop.
A change in diet can make a big difference; however, this can be trial and error. More natural foods tend to take longer to digest and have less appeal once processed.
Some additives are sprinkled on the dog’s food and can be very effective (or not work at all, so only buy a small amount the first time). You can get them from your vet, or you can buy them via the internet. In our experience, additives have minimal impact, but others have had success with them.
Above all, if you think your dog has a medical or nutritional issue, then please book an appointment with a vet ASAP. They will know you and your dog better than anyone on the internet and are better able to advise you about your Beagle.