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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Yes, some dogs eat cat poop

Although it may appear nasty to humans, the average dog will consume cat poop at some time. If you have ever wondered why dogs eat feces (also known as coprophagy), here is all you need to know and what you should do if you notice your dog eating cat poop.

Anna Burke, in her article “Why Does My Dog Eat Cat Poop?” in the American Kennel Club website, listed the reasons for these seemingly repulsive habits of some dogs. These can be classified into two: behavioral and medical reasons.

Behavioral reason

Most dogs who eat feces are greedy eaters, which is a tough propensity to break, and the age of the dog has little to do with it. This is very normal; dogs are scavengers by nature. They eat a variety of unusual food. You may be glad to discover, however, that most canines ate fresh feces (and not just cat feces), which were considered as no more than two days old.

Burke said while you may think cat feces stinks, your dog most likely associates it with cat food. Because typical cat food appeals to a dog’s sense of smell, and many dogs enjoy eating cat food, this is one of the reasons they are often ready to nibble out of the litter box. Cats are also frequently fed a high protein/low fiber diet; after all, they are obligate carnivores, which results in poop with a high protein content. Protein will entice your dog, especially the one who enjoys eating, well, almost anything.

A dog sniffing out a cat litter box. (Photo from the AKC article, Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop? How to Stop a Dog from Eating Cat Poop?)

Another typical reason why puppies begin eating poop is boredom. Because dogs explore the environment with their mouths, the litter pan is no exception, and then they find a reward concealed there, which keeps them coming back. Dogs who enjoy lots of playing, exercise, and interactive time with their families are less prone to develop coprophagia.

Another surprise reason some dogs begin to eat poop (and this is based on personal experience) is if they have an accident in the house and you have reprimanded your dog in any manner (including using a raised voice), they know they will be punished for their mistake, and some dogs will hide the evidence by eating it. This is just one of the reasons you should always employ positive potty-training approaches and never penalize your dog for accidents. When they learn they like the taste of feces, the issue can quickly move to the litter box.

Finally, some dogs will start eating poop when they are stressed. Dogs, like people, will revert to the activities they loved as pups to ease stress, just as people do. For certain dogs, this may entail coprophagy.

Medical Reasons

Burke said that the most likely medical-related cause is a dietary deficit or malnutrition in situations when dogs are provided a diet that does not satisfy all of their nutritional needs. Other possible reasons include intestinal parasites, poor intestinal absorption, and hormonal or endocrine abnormalities. Senior canines who adopt the behavior unexpectedly may be suffering from cognitive impairment.

A dog rummaging in a trashcan. (Photo from iStock royalty-free images.)

The good news is that if your veterinarian discovers a medical explanation for your dog’s coprophagy, you may treat the underlying disease to avoid more serious issues. The therapy may also assist to remove the craving to consume feces.

Can dogs become ill after eating cat poop?

If the other animal has intestinal parasites or dangerous bacteria, such as E. coli or Salmonella, your dog might develop these infections.

One rarely discussed aspect is that if the cat is taking medicine, the drug residues may still be in the cat’s feces when the dog takes it, potentially affecting the dog.

Of course, everything your dog consumes may be passed on to your family via kisses and saliva. So, take these facts in consideration before you let your dog smooch you all over especially if he or she is a poop addict.

How can you help break this bad habit of your dog?

A dog nibbling inside a litter box. (Photo from Door Buddy’s article, Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop?)

These are simple suggestions but will definitely cure your dogs of the disgusting habit of eating cat poop (or any other garbage for that matter).

  1. Use positive training methods in correcting bad habits.
  2. Clean the cat litter box often and place it where it will not be accessible to the dog.
  3. Keep your dog active and engaged in regular exercises or activities that will keep him or her from getting bored.
  4. Take note of your dog’s diet and slow down their eating.
  5. Try medications, supplements, and natural food additives recommended by your vet.

With patience, most dogs can be stopped from regularly snacking on cat’s stool.

About the Author: Mariana Burgos is a freelance artist. She has been a solo parent for 16 years now because she is wife to a desaparecido. She and her daughter are animal lovers and are active in advocating not only human rights but the rights of animals as well.

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