Coprophagia in Dogs – Causes, Risks and Treatment

by Reena Bakir

Coprophagia in dogs refers to the action of a dog eating faeces, and can sometimes be an indication of behavioural or health problems. Many of our dogs’ behaviours are not understandable to us, and that is why it’s important to remain educated and aware of what our dogs go, why they do it and when we need to interfere and stop them!

If you spot your dog eating faeces, it should be a good sign to take them to the vet in order to decide the root of the problem and to keep them safe from any diseases or harmful consequences that come as a result of this! Here’s a breakdown of the causes, symptoms and possible treatments for coprophagia in dogs!


Before you can understand the consequences of your dog ingesting their own stool, it’s important to understand the possible causes that may drive your dog to such actions! Coprophagia in dogs can occur as a result of either medical or behavioural problems, both of which must be addressed and treated!

coprophagia in dogs

Medical Reasons

  • Lack of nutrients. Once the nutrients in your dog’s body begin to dimish, or if your dog isn’t receiving the appropriate and sufficient dose of nutrients and calories needed to keep him healthy, their stool may begin to seem more appealing. This could either occur due to a dog’s insufficient diet or intestinal parasites.
  • Diseases such as diabetes, thyroid disease or Cushing’s disease. At times, dogs infected with certain diseases can display this act of eating their own stool.

Behavioural Reasons

  • Investigating. Occuring usually in puppies who are newly exposed to the world, sniffing and sometimes eating stool can be their way of exploring or investigating it.
  • Anxiety. Dogs who experience high levels of stress or anxiety due to harsh punishments or being exposed to abusive environments can sometimes result in eating their own stool out of fear and stress.
  • Seeking Attention. Dogs who do not receive enough attention from humans are more likely to eat their own stool as a way to try to catch people’s attention.
  • Isolation. Dogs who are isolated from other dogs or human contact often display this action.

What are the risks?

As expected, coprophagia poses a range of health risks on your dogs, as they are essentially ingested toxic materials into their systems. Ingesting stool can cause an easy transmission of viruses, bacteria and infections due to all the toxins and possible diseases present in faeces. A dog who ingests large amounts of stool will begin to exhibit signs of lethargy, dehydration and weight loss; all of which may be signs of other dangerous and deadly diseases, including Parvovirus, canine hepatitis and parasites.

Coprophagia can also cause gastrointestinal diseases which lead to vomiting and diarrhoea.

Treatment and making it stop

If you witness your dog eating their own stool, the first step of action is to take them to a vet to discover if there are any medical issues which may be the root of the problem. Then, your vet should examine to make sure your dog’s health has not been affected by this action and that your dog is safe from viruses and infections.

After diagnosis, if your dog is found with any infections or diseases, the vet should follow protocol to treat your dog using vaccinations and the appropriate medications. If your dog exhibits signs of extreme dehydration or lethargy, IV’s may be administered to help them get back on their paws and supply them with the appropriate nutrients they may lack.

coprophagia in dogs

After your dog has been treated and has fully recovered, certain steps towards ensuring that your dog does not return to this habit must be taken. If your dog’s actions were purely behavioural, you must make sure your dog receives constant attention and is supervised at all times when they are around stool, such as when they are out in gardens or parks. Taste-aversion methods have also been found successful, adding smells of garlic, chamomile, or any products that contain monosodium glutamate to areas where still is present will surely keep your dog away!

If the reason for your dog’s action is insufficient vitamins, then supplying them with vitamin supplementation through medication or a precise diet can help eliminate this unappealing action.

Make sure you always supervise your dog to spot any actions of coprophagia and to keep your dog safe and healthy before they’re exposed to any of the risks of this disease!

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