Why Do Dogs Eat Horse Poop?

If you have a dog, you are probably well aware that they will try to eat just about anything they can sink their teeth into. 

why do dogs eat horse poop
Why do dogs eat horse poop?

For the most part, dogs can navigate what they can and can’t eat, but it can still be a bit distressing if they chomp down on something inedible, toxic, or that is a potential choking hazard.

Sometimes dogs will try to eat things that are just plain gross, including feces; however, one type of excrement seems to attract dogs more than others—horse poop.

So, what is it that attracts them and helps explain the question, why do dogs eat horse poop?

Here are some explanations:

They Like the Taste

This one is pretty straightforward. While humans are usually disgusted by the smell of manure, dogs are intrigued by it and eager to investigate.

Usually, when dogs encounter feces (of any type), they will smell it carefully. Some dogs might even try a tiny sampling, but for the most part, any defecation investigation ends without much of a fuss.

So, what is it that makes horse poop so appealing? 

Horse diets consist of grass, hay, seeds, vegetables, and fruit, all things that might be attractive to a dog. It is not uncommon to find bits of food excrement within horse poop, and therefore dogs are naturally attracted to it. 

In many cases, dogs see horse poop as recycled grass and therefore deem it edible. 

a happy pitbull runs in grass
A happy Pitbull running in grass outside

They Are Hungry

Why do dogs eat horse poop? Another logical reason dogs might bite into some horse waste is that they are simply hungry.

Dog owners are well aware that the more hungry a dog is, the more adventurous they get with their food selections. A hungry dog is not only far less picky, but depending on the dog, they can be a bit reckless, biting into anything they can find.

The smell of horse poop is naturally alluring to dogs, so a hungry dog will likely be drawn to it. Depending on how hungry they are, they may not be able to resist taking a bite. 

Dogs are natural scavengers and constantly seek out their next meal, sometimes just minutes after they’ve eaten. 

Dogs have a phenomenal sense of smell, and given the strong odor of horse poop, they will have no issues seeking it out. Therefore if your dog is starving, they may deem horse poop their best available option.

chocolate goldendoodle in dog park
A Chocolate Goldendoodle in a dog park (Parti with white face)

They Think It’s a Treat.

Many dog treats are stinky, and for some dogs, the smellier, the better, so don’t expect the smell to dissuade your dog. 

The size and texture of horse manure are also much different than what some dogs are accustomed to, so they may not even recognize it as feces. It may even look something similar to wet food or a tasty treat they get at home.  

Dogs commonly act on instinct operating with an act first, ask questions later mentality. If they think something is a treat, they will go for it. 

aussiedoodle at the beach
An Aussiedoodle at the beach!

Health Reasons

In some cases, the reason your dog is attracted to horse poop could be related to malnutrition, an upset stomach, an illness, or something missing from their diet.

Horses consume diets full of nutrients, so if your dog lacks them, they might seek out horse poop to fill the void in their diet.

When dogs are sick or have upset stomachs, they often turn to grass to help ease their discomfort. As previously mentioned, horse poop is full of grass, and therefore dogs may see it as an ideal substitute.  

Another cause could be parasites that are draining your dog of its nutrients, or other health issues such as thyroid problems are causing your dog excessive hunger. 

While you generally don’t need to worry about an overzealous pup getting adventurous with their diet, you should consider potential health factors, especially if your dog is malnourished or has any pre-existing conditions.

a great dane enjoying a walk on the beach
An older Great Dane enjoying a beach visit

Is Horse Poop Safe?

There are a number of reasons you may want to stop your dog from eating dog poop, with the horrible smell at the top of the list.

In most cases, a little horse poop is unlikely to harm your dog or cause any noticeable adverse side effects. In fact, in many instances, horse poop contains some useful nutrients. 

However, you need to be aware of chemicals that might be in horse poop that could cause harm to your dog.

Many horses are given the dewormer; if this is the case, it could show up in traces of feces which could negatively affect your dog. Even small traces of dewormer can be dangerous for some breeds.

Maintaining your dog’s health and wellness has many different elements. And while the risks linked with horse poop are low, you are probably better off steering your dog clear of their newly discovered brown treat.