Is it Dangerous for Dogs to Eat Their Stool or Other Animal Feces?

Coprophagia may sound like a fancy Italian restaurant, but what’s on the menu is far from fine dining. Coprophagy is the act of ingesting feces. Much to the horror of most pet parents, it’s relatively common among dogs.

But will eating poop make a dog sick? And why in the world does it appeal to them at all? Most importantly, how do you prevent it?

Follow along as we unpack the potential dangers of eating dog poop and investigate how you can keep your pup healthy and safe.

Will your dog get sick from eating poop?

The short answer is: possibly. Though still gross, if your dog eats her own feces, she’s probably in the clear. If your dog is making a meal out of another animal’s poop, especially if they’re of a different species, it could be cause for concern.

Any time your dog eats feces of an unknown origin, they run the risk of contracting infectious diseases or parasites. They also have the potential to ingest medications or other irritating ingredients that have passed through the system of the other animal.

Signs your dog is sick from eating poop include:

  • gastroenteritis
  • vomiting and diarrhea
  • decreased appetite
  • tiredness
  • intestinal parasites

Why do dogs eat poop?

There are many individual motivators for eating poop, but they usually stem from something to do with your dog’s health or behavior.

On the health side, eating poop may be a sign your dog lacks certain vitamins or enzymes. He may turn to his poop to try to supplement these. Underfed puppies or overfed adult dogs may also ingest feces to aid digestion.

Behavioral poop-eaters are also common. These pups eat poop because of things like:

  1. Boredom. Understimulated dogs may look to poop to pass the time.
  2. Anxiety. These include dogs who are stressed because of changes, like a new household pet.
  3. Environment. Fail to pick-up after your pet, and they may run yard clean-up for you.
  4. Attention. If they notice they get attention from eating poop, they could use it to their advantage.
  5. Fear. Punish them too heavily for accidents, and they may try to cover up the evidence by ingesting it.
  6. Habit. Puppies grow up watching their mom’s clean-up their poop. It’s partially instinctual, but unchecked can become habitual.

How to stop a dog from eating poop

If you’re worried that it’s dangerous for your dog to continue eating poop, start by making changes to what and how you feed them.

A high-quality dog food fed at the same time(s) of the day is perhaps the best preventative. You can also try adding different deterrents to their kibble. Pineapple and pumpkin provide additional fiber and probiotics and can make their feces less appetizing. Proper “coprophagia preventatives” like Potty Mouth and Nasty Habit are offered over the counter; just be sure to check with your vet before administering.

Also, be sure to address any of the behavioral issues listed above and take time to put litter boxes out of reach. The less temptation they have, the less likely they are to ingest.

While you may not be able to prevent coprophagia each and every time, understanding what it is can help pet parents avoid dangerous poop eating incidents.