At least one in four dogs have been seen to eat poo at some point in their lives. About one third of these dogs will do it frequently. So, while not every dog exhibits this behaviour, it is far from unusual.
The technical term for the consumption of poo is ‘coprophagia’. Some pets will eat their own poo, while others eat the poo of other animals.
If your pooch is chowing down on stool, you may worry they have a medical issue. There are certain diseases that can be linked with coprophagia, so it is sensible to have a chat with your vet if concerned. We would consider:
It is sensible to see the vet if your dog has recently started to eat poo and has not done it before. Similarly, if they have begun to do it a lot more than before, there may be a medical reason for this.
If your dog is showing any other signs, such as excessive thirst, diarrhoea or weight loss, we should have them seen promptly.
For the most part, your dog won’t become unwell from this behaviour.
Dogs are generally sensible enough to avoid any poo that is sloppy or bloody; a sign that the dog who passed it may have an infectious disease.
As parasites can be passed on from eating poo, it is crucial that all ‘poo eaters’ are kept up to date with a good quality wormer.
If you’ve seen your dog eating poo, you will likely want to clean their mouth, to ensure they don’t get you or your home dirty. This is especially important if they have contact with young children.
A damp cloth can be used to clean your dog’s lips and face. We can then brush their teeth using a doggy tooth paste. After this, give them some water to drink.
When possible, try to identify the cause of your dog’s behaviour. For example, if they are left in a crate for several hours each day, it may be that they need to be let out more often. Similarly, if they seem under-stimulated, we should spend more time providing them with things to do, keeping them busy and content.
Any poo passed should be cleaned up right away. Only about 1 in 10 poo eaters will eat old poo that has been left out; most show a preference for freshly passed poo. So, owners need to be on the ball!
Ensure your dog is eating a balanced and nutritious diet; ideally one that is packed with fresh ingredients and doesn’t contain fillers or any ‘nasties’. This will help ensure they are getting all of the micronutrients they need and supports their gut health.
Some owners turn to ‘aversion products’ that make the dog’s stool taste foul. This can work well for those pooches who only eat their own poop.