Coprophagia is largely associated with dogs, it is the situation when a dog its feces, often its own, but also that of other dogs or animals. Coprophagia also occurs in humans, as a behavioral problem, health disorder, or a sexual perversion.
In dogs there is a myth that coprophagia is due to minerals lacking in a dogs diet, this has been shown to be untrue. Dogs who are underfed may exhibit this behavior when no other food is present, however is is also seen in otherwise perfectly healthy dogs, and indeed, perfectly healthy people.
The word coprophagia originated from the Greek, Copros for feces, and phagein for eating.
As seen in “Scat” films sexual coprophagia can be as benign as the licking of another persons dirty anus, or actual consumption of fecal material. It is often assumed the bent towards this behavior comes from having a submissive personality. In some instances the behavior is seen as forced, the one eating the feces is not necessarily enjoying it, this being a dominant, and aggressive, act towards them.
Pica is a health disorder whereby the person develops a craving for things that other people would not find palatable. This problem is more common in women, and children. The affected person often eats dirt, soap, small stones, pencils, batteries, and on up the line. Eating feces is common in people with Pica. Pica can be distinguished from simple coprophagia because other things are eaten in addition to feces, and may be related to a type of anemia.
Other instances of Human Coprophagia
In some cases of child abuse, where the infants and toddlers in particular, were not properly fed, many resorted to eating their own feces.
Depression and schizophrenia are often associated with coprophagia.
The biggest risks are of contracting a disease, such as hepatitis, or parasites (worms) from eating the feces of another human.
What to do?
One should be tested for anemia, and Pica should be suspected if other unusual cravings are also present. Both a medical, and psychiatric exam should take place. The sufferer should be counseled and treated for depression, or schizophrenia, if either are present.