Why Do Dogs Eat Horse Poop?

Why do dogs eat horse poo? This question has been pondered by many great minds so far to find a reason. There can be several reasons for this behavior or more precisely, repulsive habit. Many dogs have a tendency to feast on things they shouldn’t like horse and livestock manure.

Nothing is more nauseous and stomach-churning than finding your dog chomping on animal poo when going on sedate country walks. They seem to have an unhealthy appetite for horse manure and it is considered one of the least desirable traits of the four-legged animal.

Want to know why dogs do so, what could they possibly find delicious about the horse droppings? Is horse manure toxic for dogs? We will give you answers to some of the mind-boggling questions.

Why Do Dogs Eat Horse Poop?

Do not even for a second think that it is only your dog that has this gruesome habit. It is quite common and this condition has a medical name; Coprophagia. Coprophagic dogs are greedy eaters who like eating stools for reasons wide and varied.

The reasons for this condition can not be narrowed down to just one, they may like the smell and taste. Sometimes, dogs chew horse manure to make up for something missing in their diet or a health problem.

Is it Safe for Dogs to Eat Horse Poo?

Though the answer is not as simple as anticipated, it is both a yes and no. Most of the time, the concern is expressed by dog owners that the dog may become poisoned after having a taste of horse manure. 

However, this is an exaggeration, nothing bad will happen to the dog after eating a few horse droppings. No naturally occurring ingredient in the poop is found toxic to dogs.

What a dog owner needs to be aware of is ivermectin poisoning. Ivermectin is a deworming agent that can be passed in the manure for days after the horse has taken its medication. Horse manure with the presence of this medication can become toxic for dogs.

Reasons Why Dogs Eat Horse Manure

We get it, it is hard to get your head wrap around the fact that your dog likes horse manure, even the thought of it may give you goose flesh. It is not at all unusual, some of the reasons why they like it so much are given below.

It Tastes Good

While human stomachs might turn at the thought of eating horse poop, on the contrary, dogs do not mind having to taste a little bit of it. The taste and smell outweigh the fact that it actually poops.

The feces of livestock animals have a great smell and texture and contain several tasting snacks. It may smell bad to humans, but to dogs, poop has an attractive stink that they actively seek out. 

Horses eat grass, hay, fruit, vegetables, seeds, grass, grain, bulbs, and berries and when all of these are put together in a neat little poop package, it resembles a lot like dog salad.

For Pack Protection

This might not be understandable to you, but this habit can be traced back to the ancestral days. The study shows that ancestral wolves and wild dogs ate feces to keep the den area clean from fecal-borne intestinal parasites.

Horse poop consumption is part of the dog’s DNA or one of the instincts left over from the earlier days.

To Investigate

Like human babies, younger dogs and puppies like to explore and investigate things. These adorable puppies will put anything in their mouth that they stumble upon. This is also a part of their scavenging behavior, trying to figure out where the next meal is coming from.


To Fulfill Nutrients or an Enzyme Deficiency

Dogs make up for the deficiencies in their diet by consuming horse manure. Lack of nutrients or enzymes in the regular diet leads them to develop this habit. Horse’s diet is rich in enzymes and partially digested proteins, so, dogs seek out these nutrients by eating horse stools.

Trying to Medicate Themselves

Dogs attempt to self-medicate themselves by eating horse poop. Dogs with parasites turn to poop as a way of self-medication.

Parasites will leach nutrients from the dog’s diet, the dog will replace the lost nutrients through horse poop. 

Consider Tasty Snack

It resembles a particular dog treat when the poop is all dried and broken up. Horse poop looks like a tasty treat and is appealing to eat. Dogs are foodies and as they lock on to the smell of horse poop, it would be a daunting task to convince them not to eat.

When Dog is Hungry

Do not let the dog go anywhere near animal poop when hungry. They will eat anything in excess that they get their mouths on, so, make sure they had a full meal or alternative snacks.

Ivermectin Poisoning

Ivermectin is a common deworming agent found in worming treatment medicine given to horses. After the worm treatment is administered, Ivermectin can be passed in horse stool for up to 45 days. Most dogs would not get sick with a little amount of Ivermectin except for some “at-risk” breeds. 

There is a small risk that eating horse poop affected with Ivermectin may hurt the dog. Even though the risk is low, it should not be overlooked. Some of the symptoms of Ivermectin poisoning are

  • Dilated Pupils
  • Disorientation
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting & Drooling
  • Termors

Do Dogs Get Worms From Eating Horse Manure?

Besides Ivermectin poisoning, a dog owner has to consider this problem as well. If the horse is yet to be dewormed, the parasites could pass through the manure. These worms can be ingested by the dog with horse poop consumption habits.

Which dog breeds are more at risk from Ivermectin Poisoning?

Some breeds are more at risk than others from Ivermectin Poisoning. The at-risk breeds are collies, Shetland sheepdogs, Australian shepherds, Old English sheepdogs, long-haired whippets, merle Pomeranians, and possibly other herding breeds.

Tips to Stop Dogs From Eating Horse Poop

If this gruesome habit creeps you out or gives you chills, you may already be considering not going for the walks. It would not only be unfair to the dog but also not help resolve the problem completely. Follow these steps to prevent dogs from eating animal stools.

  • Give A Nutrients-Rich Diet – As it is established earlier, the dog may be chewing poop because of some nutrients deficiency. Change the diet and include essential vitamins, minerals, and supplements.
  • Keep The Animals in Separate Enclosure – If you have kept both horses and dogs, keep them separate, do not give horses and dogs access to each other’s area.
  • Use Cayenne Pepper – If nothing else works, contaminate the poop with Cayenne Pepper or something similar.Clean horse manure with manure spreader.You can use this manure as garden manure.

Consult Veterinarian

When the poop-eating habit becomes a problem, it definitely calls for professional intervention. There is a possibility of some health issues like parasites or nutrients deficiency. A vet should be consulted when the dog has eaten a large amount of Ivermectin required to produce signs of toxicosis.

Concluding Thoughts

In most cases, a little horse poop would not hurt the dog, however, if it’s regular and in volume, then you certainly have something to worry about. If the problem has gone out of hand, a dog owner had to take preventive measures to stop dogs from doing so.

Hi, I am Waqar and active in the horse world since 2012. I have MSc (Hons) in Agriculture from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad. I love to solve equine health care issues and note down in the form of research papers. I have written hundreds of equine health care, accessories, names, and history-related blogs. My equine related work is watering a lot of horse-related magazines and blogs.

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