Our dogs are like members of the family. They sit with us on the couch, sleep on our beds and lick our faces when they are happy to see us. That's why we get disturbed when we see them snacking on poo- their own or another animals. Yuck!
This nasty behavior of eating poop is called coprophagy. Some people claim nutritional imbalances can cause this, but there is little data to support this.
Not only is the habit disgusting but it can be dangerous. Hookworms, roundworms, whipworms and harmful bacteria can be transmitted to your dog this way. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, anemia and weight loss. Licking their feet after being outside can also introduce parasites. Immature hookworms can penetrate through the skin as well. These parasites are considered to be zoonotic which means they can be transmitted from animals to people. Even just by walking barefoot or getting a lick in the face. Humans don't get whipworms but they can get hookworms and roundworms.
Minimize the risk by picking up the poop immediately. Discourage your dog from ingesting stool or contaminated water. Have your pets screened for parasites regularly (bring poo to the vet - ziploc bags are great!). Because fecal tests are not 100%, we recommend deworming your pet regularly. Most monthly heartworm preventatives act to deworm your pet for the most common intestinal parasites.
Go out with your pet during potty time and teach them the command "leave it."
Don't get mad at your dog for this strange craving. Just avoid the face licking- you know where that tongue has been.