My Dog Ate Another Dog’s Poop and Seems Fine – What Should I Do?

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 Key Takeaways:

  • Another dog’s poop is not toxic, but it can carry pathogens that make dogs sick.
  • The main pathogens that can be found in dog poop are protozoan parasites, intestinal parasites, and bacteria.
  • If your dog eats another dog’s poop, you should talk to your veterinarian about the behavior to see if there may be an underlying condition triggering it.

You’re at the dog park with your four-footed friend, and you notice him noshing on a pile of poop. Eww! Should you be concerned?

Although it’s a disgusting habit, poop-eating(coprophagia) is rarely dangerous for your dog. However, another dog’s feces can contain parasites or bacteria that can make your dog very sick. 

If your dog eats another dog’s poop, you should talk to your veterinarian about the behavior. He can help determine if there’s an underlying condition that’s causing it.

Is Dog Poop Toxic to Dogs?

Dog poop is not toxic to your dog, but it may contain harmful organisms such as parasites or bacteria. The truth is that many dogs eat poop at some point in their life. Some of the reasons for coprophagia include:

  • Boredom
  • Curiosity
  • Hunger
  • Anxiety
  • Underlying health issue
  • Some dogs like the taste

As long as the feces come from a dog that’s healthy and parasite-free, the poop won’t harm your dog. Because dogs weren’t designed to digest poop, it may cause mild digestive upset such as vomiting or diarrhea in some pups. 

Just because poop from a healthy dog isn’t harmful doesn’t mean your dog should eat it. If you catch your pup snacking on droppings, discourage the behavior.

Dog poop is not toxic to dogs. However, it may contain bacteria or parasites that can make your furbaby sick. Many dogs eat poop at some point in their lives, but the behavior shouldn’t be encouraged.

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Another Dog’s Poop?

If you catch your dog eating another dog’s poop, remove him from the area so he can’t access the droppings. You may need to put a leash on your pup if you’re at the dog park and lead him away. Try to shift his focus from the pile of feces to something else like a favorite toy or ball. Pick up the feces if you have a means of collecting them. You may want to keep a sample for your veterinarian to examine. After this, you should clean your dog’s mouth to remove fecal residue. You can use dog-safe mouthwash or toothpaste, or offer him a dental chew.

If this is a new behavior you should consult with your veterinarian. He may want you to bring your pooch in for a checkup to determine if there’s an underlying medical condition. The doctor may also be able to recommend supplements for your dog that could help. 

Meanwhile, provide your pooch with lots of water and monitor him for signs of illness. Contact your veterinarian if you notice:

  • Repetitive vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Presence of worms in the feces

If you see your dog eating another dog’s poop, get him away from the feces and provide a distraction. Remove the poop and keep a sample for your veterinarian if you’re able. Let the doctor know about the behavior and monitor your pooch for signs of illness.

When Should My Dog See a Vet For Eating Another Dog’s Poop?

Many times, you can monitor your dog for signs of illness if he eats another dog’s poop. However, there are certain reasons to take your furbaby to the vet.

  • You notice parasites in the feces
  • Your dog has vomiting and diarrhea
  • Your dog is depressed or lethargic
  • Your dog has a medical condition like diabetes
  • Your dog exhibits other changes in behavior
  • Your dog keeps trying to eat poop

When dogs continually eat feces, there may be an underlying condition triggering the repetitive behavior. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. He may be able to recommend a treatment that corrects the problem.

You can usually monitor your dog after he eats another dog’s poop, but there are exceptions. If your dog shows signs of illness or has a medical condition, you should contact your veterinarian. It’s also wise to schedule an appointment if eating poop becomes habitual behavior.

What if My Dog Ate Plenty of Poop But Seems Fine?

Some pups have an iron gut and won’t show digestive upset when they ingest poop. So, if your dog feasted on a bunch of another dog’s poop but doesn’t act sick right away, that may not mean he’s off the hook. One or more of the piles could contain bacteria or parasites that can make your dog sick.

If poop carries protozoal or intestinal parasites, you may not notice signs of illness for 10 days or more. In the case of bacterial pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli, symptoms of the disease may not manifest for a few hours to several days.

If your dog sampled multiple piles of another dog’s poop before you could restrain him but doesn’t get sick, you should continue to monitor him. But if the feces contain parasites or pathogens like E. coli or Salmonella, the symptoms may not emerge for a few days or longer. 

Signs That My Dog Got Sick From Eating Another Dog’s Poop

When another dog’s poop carries pathogens or parasites, it may take several hours to weeks before you see signs. Symptoms may include:

Protozoan Parasites

The two most common protozoan parasites that dog poop contains are coccidia and giardia. They both affect the gastrointestinal system and can cause severe dehydration and death. Depending on the organism, other symptoms include: 

  • Watery or bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression

Intestinal Parasites

Dog poop from a dog with intestinal parasites can carry the eggs or larval stages of roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms. If your dog ingests contaminated poop, you may see signs such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Licking the anus
  • Worms or worm segments in the feces
  • Increased appetite with weight loss
  • Swollen abdomen

Bacterial Infection

Salmonella and E. coli are the most common bacteria you might find in another dog’s poop.

Signs of Salmonella Infection

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Mucus in stool
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Elevated heart rate

Signs of E. coli infection

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy/Depression
  • Cold skin
  • Blue-tinted mucus membranes

The signs you may observe in your dog after he eats another dog’s poop vary depending on the types of contaminants in the feces. Symptoms of an illness usually include  diarrhea. In the case of bacterial infections, you may also notice a loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, and depression.

What Happens to Dogs That Eat Another Dog’s Poop?

In most cases, eating another dog’s poop will not harm healthy pups. The canine digestive system can usually eliminate pathogens in the stomach due to the high acid content of the gastric juices. Dogs may still have mild gastric upset when they ingest feces because the materials are foreign to the gastrointestinal tract. 

The story may be different when your furbaby eats a lot of heavily contaminated poop or has a compromised immune system. A large burden of bacteria can overwhelm your dog’s defense systems and cause an infection. In this case, the bacteria can multiply and cause infections with a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and other symptoms.

Likewise, if your dog ingests feces that are heavily infested with parasites, the protozoa or larvae can infect him. Worms will migrate to the lower gastrointestinal tract and attach to the intestinal wall where they can feed off your dog’s nutrients. When protozoa infect your dog, they will trigger severe symptoms that can lead to dehydration.

Healthy dogs will usually be fine after eating another dog’s poop. However, if your dog has a weakened immune system or ingests lots of contaminated poop, the bacteria or parasites can overwhelm your dog’s defenses and cause infection.

Why Is Dog Poop Dangerous for Dogs?

Dog poop can be dangerous for your dog to eat because it can carry harmful pathogens. The acid in the canine stomach usually destroys the organisms, but if your dog is immune-compromised or ingests more than the system can handle, it can still become ill. 

If the poop contains bacteria or protozoa parasites they can infect the digestive system and cause severe illness. Dogs affected by these pathogens usually stop eating, experience vomiting and soon become dehydrated. Unless your pooch receives prompt treatment including supportive care, this can be life-threatening.

Another risk of eating dog poop is the feces may contain intestinal parasites. The larvae can infest your pup’s gut and feed off the nutrients in his digestive system. This can cause weight loss and malnutrition. If the worms migrate to other organs, your pup may also experience kidney or liver damage. 

If dogs eat another dog’s poop, and it harbors bacteria or protozoa, they can develop infections with vomiting and diarrhea. If parasite larvae are in the poop, the organisms can travel to your dog’s intestines, grow to maturity, can cause malnutrition, and possibly affect other organs in the body. 

How Will My Vet Treat My Dog If He Eats Another Dog’s Poop?

The treatment your dog may receive depends on the type of symptoms and infection your dog develops after eating another dog’s poop. When you take your pooch to the veterinarian, he’ll start by taking a history and examining your dog. After that, he may run diagnostic tests, including a fecal exam and blood tests. Based on the findings, the doctor may treat your pooch with:

  • IV fluids for dehydration
  • Antidiarrheal medications
  • Antibiotics for bacterial infections
  • Antiprotozoal or anthelmintic drugs for protozoan parasites
  • Corticosteroids for shock/inflammation
  • Feeding a bland diet such as boiled rice and hamburger or chicken breast

When you bring your dog to the veterinarian after he eats dog poop, the doctor will get a history, give your dog a physical examination, and run some diagnostic tests. The treatment your pooch receives will depend on the vet’s diagnosis and may include antiprotozoal or antibiotic drugs, IV fluids, and a bland diet. 

How Long Will It Take My Dog to Recover?

As with treatment, the recovery period will vary depending on the type and severity of the disease. 

  • Mild digestive upset usually resolves in a day or two
  • Bacterial infections usually take 10 days to 2 weeks to resolve with antibiotic treatment, but Salmonella infections may take longer
  • Protozoal infections usually require a week to 10 days to resolve 
  • Intestinal parasite infestations usually respond well to anthelmintic medications. Three treatments given two weeks apart yield the best results.

Recovery varies depending on the type and severity of infection your dog contracts. Recovery for bacteria usually takes about 10 days to 2 weeks; protozoal infections usually take a week or more; intestinal parasites usually clear up after three consecutive treatments set two weeks apart.

The Final Woof

Dog poop is not toxic to dogs, but it may contain pathogenic organisms that can make them very ill. The most common pathogens in dogs are bacteria, protozoa, and intestinal parasites. If your dog eats another dog’s poop, you should monitor your pup and consider talking to your veterinarian about the behavior. 

If the poop your dog ingests contains harmful pathogens, call your vet if you see signs of illness that include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and loss of appetite. The doctor will examine your dog and run tests to diagnose the problem. Treatment will depend on the diagnosis and symptoms. Recovery after treatment varies depending on the type and severity of the infection.

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

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