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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 30360
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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Second opinion] - Just brought her in from all she is a 3

Customer Question

Second opinion] - Just brought her in from all she is a 3 year old terrier mix, but has started eating other dogs old droppings. Is this harmful to her?
JA: I'll do all I can to help. What seems to be the problem with the terrier?
Customer: She has started eating other dogs/animal droppings- poop. Is this harmful to her?
JA: What is the terrier's name?
Customer: Sasha
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Sasha?
Customer: Her Rt front paw near the nail is bleeding a little, but more concerned with her eating other animals poop.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 10 months ago.

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Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 10 months ago.

I'm sorry to hear of this with Sasha. Her coprophagia risks contracting intestinal parasites and pathogenic bacteria and viruses harbored by other dogs and simple gastrointestinal distress from ingesting non-food is always a concern.

The ultimate cause of coprophagia in adult dogs has always been elusive. Some feel that the problem is behavioral, while others are convinced there is an organic reason. Soft stools, incomplete digestion of food within the stools, evidence of steatorrhea (fat in the feces), increased stool frequency or volume, or a voracious appetite might indicate a problem with maldigestion or malabsorption. Other gastrointestinal disturbances such as inflammatory bowel disease, systemic health problems including renal failure and endocrinopathies (unlikely in an otherwise normal 3 year old), medications such as glucocorticoids (prednisone, e.g.), central nervous system diseases or any disease process that causes polyphagia (increased hunger) might lead to picas (eating non-digestibles) and coprophagia. Calorie-restricted diets, especially those that are not balanced or do not adequately satiate the dog may also lead to picas including coprophagia. Recent research has suggested that there may indeed be a medical component to the problem in some cases. In a small study of nine coprophagic dogs, all had at least one laboratory abnormality that could explain the problem. The laboratory profile included a complete blood count, complete biochemical profile, amylase, lipase, trypsin-like immunoreactivity (TLI), vitamin B12, folate, fecal fat, fecal trypsin, fecal muscle fiber, trace minerals including zinc, selenium, copper, iron, magnesium and boron, and fecal sedimentation (an ova and parasite exam). Most had borderline to low TLI (suggesting pancreatic exocrine enzyme deficiency/the inability of the pancreas to produce enough digestive enzymes) while others had abnormalities in folate, Vitamin B12 (suggesting malabsorption/inability to efficiently absorb digested food) or other nutrients. It might be wise to have blood work performed. Sasha's vet can determine if all the above is necessary. For instance, checking trace mineral blood levels might be waived if Sasha is eating a high quality adult dog food. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.