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January 26, 2022
If you live in a multi-pet household, especially if you have dogs and cats, you face some unique challenges. One of them is making sure your pets respect each other's boundaries. You think you have things under control until you spot Fido chowing down on something from the litter box. Yep, your dog just ate cat poop. How do you stop it?
If your dog keeps eating poop, it’s understandable that you’re alarmed (and maybe slightly grossed out). But it’s not as uncommon as you might think. Still, it’s best to get your dog to break this unpleasant habit, especially if they’re snacking on a litter box buffet daily.
Dogs scavenge, and they aren’t very picky, which means they’ll pretty much eat anything. It might seem gross to you, but to your pup, eating poop can be a special treat. Still, it’s not without risks.
Your dog could be eating cat poop because they like the smell (yep, you read that right). To your pup, that pile of poop might just smell like some tasty cat food. So, if your pal tends to sneak your cat’s food, the odds are good they’ll sneak some poop too.
In some cases, your dog might eat cat poop because of nutrient deficiency, malnourishment, Pica, or underlying health issues. But, the more likely scenario is your dog is just exploring and scavenging for tasty treats.
If your dog ate one or two pieces of cat poop, they’re probably fine (but they’ll have some gnarly breath). But, if it’s a habit, then you should have a few legitimate concerns. Feces harbors nasty things like bacteria and parasites, some of which can even be passed along to humans.
If your cat isn’t sick, don’t assume their poop is free-and-clear. Your pup can still pick up internal parasites from the poop. Some parasites that could be present in your cat’s poop are Giardia, Salmonella, Toxoplasma, and E.coli. In addition to eating cat poop, you also need to be wary if your dog is eating the cat litter.
If your pup’s eating clumping litter, there’s a risk of intestinal blockage. If you know your dog ate cat litter, watch them closely. If they seem fine and have regular bowel movements, they’re likely okay. However, contact your vet immediately if you notice any odd behavior, lethargy, loss of appetite, or bathroom issues.
If your canine companion feasts on their own poop, it’s likely due to the same reasons mentioned above. Dogs can also eat their own poo out of boredom, anxiety, or to get some attention from their owners. Some dogs even learn the habit from their mothers, who typically lick feces off their pups to keep them clean.
If your pup poops where he shouldn’t, he might eat it to hide the evidence and avoid punishment. It’s kind of like a little kid that breaks a vase and then sweeps the pieces up under the rug.
If your dog’s eating poop, even if the health risks are low, you need to stop the behavior. Your furry friend can still pick up a series of problems, including diarrhea, tummy trouble, chronic infections, worms, parasites, and more.
Therefore, watch your dog carefully after they consume poop to see if they experience any issues. If your pal got a hold of poop from a stray cat, there’s an increased risk of picking up an infection.
This increased risk is because you don’t know the condition of these cats or their health histories. Regardless of where your dog eats the poop, practice the following steps once they’ve had their “snack.”
Depending on how your dog acts and feels, your vet might also take a stool sample to test for parasites. Plus, your vet might want to run blood tests to look for any other pathogens.
Like many things you want to avoid in life, prevention is the best medicine. If you have a cat and a dog sharing the home, keep your cat’s litter tray in a place where your dog can’t reach. If possible, consider elevating the litter box or putting it in a cubby that’s only big enough for your cat to go through.
Another option is to use a baby gate to block access to the room where you keep the litter box. It won’t deter your feline, who can easily jump or climb the gate, but it should block your pup.
Additionally, keep your dog exercised properly, engaged with interactive toys, and feed them a well-balanced diet. These steps will discourage eating poop for reasons like stress, boredom, or nutrient deficiency.
It’s also essential to keep the litter box clean and try to scoop the poop as soon as you can. After all, if there’s no poop in the box, your dog can’t eat it. This will be beneficial for your cat, too, as many cats don’t want to use a dirty litter box.
If your dog scavenges while outside, you might have less control over preventing his poop-eating habit. If you tend to have a lot of stray cats in your neighborhood, do a daily check for poop in your yard.
Sure, it’s a pain picking up after animals that aren’t yours. But just look at it as a way to take the best care of your own pets. Also, ensure you take your dog to regular vet check-ups to help catch any potential problems.
Of course, you also need to make sure whatever arrangement you choose works for your cat. Not all cats like having an enclosed litter box. Plus, if your cat is older and not as agile as they once were, a gate might not work as well.
So, if you put certain things in place to keep your dog out of the litter box, assess them carefully. You might inadvertently keep your cat away too. If this happens, you’ll end up with a whole other series of issues you need to address.
Overall, if your dog ate cat poop, the risks are low that something serious will happen, but it’s still best to be cautious. For more helpful tips on understanding and caring for your faithful furry friend, check out the rest of our blog. Our goal is to give you the information you need to make thoughtful decisions about your pet’s health and happiness.
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