Coprophagia is the fancy medical term for when your dog eats poop. As far as health concerns with regard to this unpleasant habit go, they will vary depending on if the dog eats fresh stool or feces that have been in the environment for a while.
Most of the worms our pets contract have an incubation period. That is, the eggs are passed out of the dog in the feces, but the eggs are not immediately infective to another dog; since the egg must mature first. The length of this incubation period varies for each type of worm.
Roundworm eggs must be in the outside environment for at least a week before they are infective to another dog. Therefore, if your dog eats fresh stool from a dog infected with roundworms, it will not become infected with worms since the eggs are not yet mature.
Hookworm eggs must mature for a week as well, while whipworm eggs take one month.
Strongyloides, a serious but rare disease, has the shortest incubation period of only one day.
Tapeworm eggs in dog stool are not infective to other dogs at all, since they must pass through an intermediate host before a dog can be infected (fleas and small rodents are the intermediate hosts for our most common tapeworms).
So, as you can see, if a dog eats fresh stool, worms are not a major concern. If they munch on “aged” poop, depending on how long it has been in the environment, worms can become a concern.
Giardia is a parasite that in some cases can be infective to other animals from fresh stool.
Coccidia requires up to a week before they are able to infect another pet. The only disease, which could be transmitted from dog to dog easily via fresh stool,
Salmonella and Campylobacter are both serious bacterial diseases that can be easily be transmitted from one dog to another.
So, though extremely unpleasant from an aesthetic point of view, most dogs that exhibit this undesirable behavior do not get sick. On the other hand, eating stool that has been in the environment for a while could be a source of various infection diseases.
Article submitted by: © Daniel Joffe, DVM (Biography & Additional Information)