The main causes of a dog that is eating cat poop are:
- They are bored
- They treat the poop as a delicacy
- They may be hungry
- They are suffering from a nutritional deficiency
If your dog is eating cat poop then don’t panic. You are not alone. Your dog, as it ages, just like us, they change over their life and may suddenly start up strange habits for no apparent reason. Your dog may suddenly start up constant barking, digging up your yard, jumping on you or strangers, or even eating grass. Those are just a few of those annoying habits they may have but, seeing your dog eating cat poop can be the most stressful and worrying of these annoying dog habits.
Coprophagia in dogs
Coprophagia, a medical term used to refer to poop-eating, is quite common in dogs. In fact, many dogs consider poop a delicacy, especially cats poop. Even though the vice is not as harmful, it is quite repulsive to us humans. The sight of your dog dining on your cat’s waste is clearly not what you want when you get back home.
Why do dogs find a snack in cat poop?
Well, there have been several claims as to why dogs like cat poop among them boredom, anxiety, and nutritional deficiencies. In this article, we are going to look at all these claims in detail, and the ways to curb this disgusting behavior.
Is your dog eating poop? The reasons why dogs love cat poop
If there is something dog owners will tell you is that our canine friends get bored pretty easily. Well, we cannot blame them after subjecting them to domestication, can we? Naturally, a dog in the wild will be roaming around and hunting for food. However, at our homes, they do not have anything to do when they are not with their masters.
When you leave your dog all alone at home, he is bound to get bored if he is not busy. However, most dogs will develop coping mechanisms that may involve coprophagia. However, there are several ways that you can curb boredom but we will discuss that later on in this article.
Unfortunately, we have to leave them alone sometimes as we do have massive activities to do. However, we have been able to come up with ways to entertain our dogs when we are gone or busy elsewhere. It is also important to make sure that your dog is occupied every day. This will prevent other behavioral vices.
Dogs have been known to love cat poop, with most of them considering it a snack. To us, this may seem repulsive and nauseating but your dog definitely loves the snack. He will sniff your cat’s poop from afar and look for it.
Now, it is quite disgusting seeing your dog with cat poop on his muzzle, or even worse, smelling it from his mouth. Of course, we are fond of giving our canine friends kisses, don’t we? Well, stop thinking about it now. You should be able to notice when your dog develops a love for your cat poop before it gets chronic.
Most dogs are always ready to eat something, even when they are not hungry. However, hunger can drive your dog to eat non-food items, especially when they smell delicious. How much and frequently you feed your dog will help you determine his intake to avoid overfeeding them.
Because cats do not digest foods completely, your dog will feel the need to eat them. For large and highly energetic dogs, they may require more food than smaller dogs. You should be able to determine the right amount of foods for your dog as well as how frequently you should feed you’re your dog.
Normally, adult dogs should be fed 2 times a day, based on their size. Puppies under the age of 6 months should be fed at least thrice a day. It is important to monitor your dog’s energy levels so as to be able to give him enough amount of food.
This way, your dog will not go looking for a snack in the cat poop. It is, however, important to remember that different dogs will have different eating habits. And it is your job to determine his eating habits so that you can be able to offer him enough food.
If your dog appears hungry almost at all times, then it is time to reconsider his food amount. You should increase the amount of food as your dog grows older. It is essential to seek professional advice on the amount of food to offer your dog from your vet.
Even as you increase the amounts of food for your dog, make sure that it is a balanced diet to avoid dietary illnesses.
Did you know that dogs also undergo stressful situations? Well, when they do, they will seek out a way to cope with it. And like human beings, dogs also may cope with stress in unhealthy habits like eating poop. Dogs get stressed when subjected to situations like;
Well, we do have to put our dogs on leashes whenever we leave the house but it could cause stress to your dog. This happens especially when you pull him using the leash as he might actually find it irritating. If you lead your dog on a leash back at home, this could get worse and lead to unhealthy coping.
This is due to the nature of your dog as he would be roaming in the wild. However, through domestication, we now live with our canine friends, and in most cases under the same roof. Because of our genetic differences, dogs cannot understand the need for a leash or any other thing related to domestication. Instead, he will be disappointed when you leave him tied down in the same place the entire day.
When you finally get home, you will probably want to release him for play or walk. During this time, he will definitely try to enjoy the little freedom as much as he can. Your dog might find your cat’s litter box and dine on the poop, just the same way we feel the need to unwind after stressful situations.
We live in harmony and so much love with our dogs, don’t we? Sometimes our dogs piss us off so bad that you want to yell at him, the same way you would another human. However, we should not forget that dogs do not understand any other language than barking.
This may constrict our relationship, but it does not have to.
Your dog is bound to get stressed up whenever he wrongs his master! It is the dog’s nature to want to please his owner. However, this is not always the case as our dogs sometimes will want to do things we do not appreciate.
Instead of yelling at your dog, who can feel the negative energy, training works better. Let us agree on one thing, however; dogs do not understand the concept of punishment. Every time he does the opposite of what you want, you should refrain from punishing him as this will only stress him.
To deal with stress, your dog is going to look for a release mechanism. For example, picture this; your dog was running up and down and he accidentally hits your cat’s litter box. Chances are, if he knows you will punish him, he will want to correct his mistake.
Unfortunately, the only way he knows how to do this is by erasing the evidence. This will require him to eat up the waste as nothing happened. This could even be worse because if it is his first time tasting cat poop, well, he just discovered his new favorite treat. This may lead to chronic poop-eating habits.
We are all attached to either someone or something, right? Well, even dogs are attached to their owners. However, dealing with attachment is quite different between humans and dogs. This is because we notice these attachment syndromes and change but our dogs do not know any other way.
It is important to always remember that dogs are animals, even if we treat them like humans. This leads us to a new level of understanding; dogs do not know how to be alone! Actually, most dogs get stressed from loneliness since they are naturally accustomed to living in packs. When we adopt them, we become their only pack. And because we love our canine friends so much, we have a tendency of taking care of them like babies.
In this light, let us look at some of the things that may make your dog helpless from attachment. Well, we do have jobs and other daily activities we have to partake in order to survive. This, however, does not take away the fact that we will want to take care of our dogs. We buy or make them food, whereas they would be hunting for prey. We clean after them, walk them, play with them, and spend time together. What’s more? We live with them! This creates an unhealthy attachment as your dog becomes needy.
Due to their inability to play, socialize, hunt, and do all the natural things they are accustomed to, your dog will get stressed. This is especially among dogs with owners who treat them like babies, don’t we all? Your dog might engage in coprophagia to deal with stress, and when he is not eating his poop, he definitely will discover the delicious snack in the form of cat poop.
A lot has been said about the nutritional requirements of a dog, without which may lead to your dog looking for them elsewhere. The nutrients composition of your dog’s diet is important in terms of overall health. What are some of the nutritional components of a balanced diet for your dog?
This is quite a broad question, based on the fact that dogs are natural scavengers. There are some things our dogs do not feed on following domestication. As opposed to the wild where he would get all these nutrients from hunting, sometimes we have no idea what to feed our dogs. For this reason, our dogs may become deficient in some nutrients if we dog watch their diet.
If you keep both a cat and a dog, you may experience the repulsive sight of your dog eating poop. Under the impression that your dog might be deficient in some nutrients, it is important to highlight that cats do not digest food completely. This means that he might pass some of these nutrients in his poop. If your dog smells the nutrients, he is definitely going to consider the meal.
Is cat poop harmful to your dog?
This is the question surrounding the topic of dog eating cat-poop. Most people struggle to control their behavior, especially if they own both pets. Not even restriction works to keep some dogs away from cat poop.
Not only is the behavior disgusting but it is also nauseating, especially if your dog licks your face often. Gross, right? Actually, most people are concerned because dog eating poop is undesirable. However, does this behavior expose your dog to illnesses?
In most cases, your dog will not likely get any illnesses from eating cat poop. However, coprophagia puts your dog at the risk of contracting internal parasites. These may include and not limited to hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, and giardia. Let us look at these parasites as we outline the dangers and measures of prevention as well as treatment.
Giardia in dogs
Giardia is a condition caused by a single-cell protozoan with 7 genotypes. This illness can actually be transmitted from one pet to another, and sadly even to humans. The protozoan can be found anywhere in the world, and especially among dogs and cats.
In most cases, if your dog comes into oral contact with this protozoan, he may not show signs whatsoever. Your dog may contract giardia from eating cat poop. It should be noted that this illness-causing parasitic species is neither a worm, virus nor is it a bacterium.
This parasite will attach itself to your dog’s intestinal walls as it accumulates through dividing in its feeding form. We cannot forget to mention that giardia exists in two forms one of which is fragile and feeds from your dog’s intestinal walls. The other form is cystic and hardy which is usually passed through fecal matter.
In some severe cases, some dogs have been reported to have their intestinal walls damaged from the trophozoite form of the protozoan. If your cat happens to have the protozoan and passes it in the fecal matter, this could be dangerous for both you and your dog. This is because the parasite can be transmitted through oral consumption. For instance, if your dog eats your cat’s poop that has the parasite, he is likely to get ill.
Unfortunately, signs of giardia are quite rare in dogs, unless it is severe whereby your dog may suffer from chronic watery diarrhea. If left untreated, this diarrhea could be life-threatening.
Upon conclusive diagnosis, your vet may recommend medication for both your dog and cat, which may require follow up with the vet care.
Hookworms in dogs
This is a fatal parasite that lives in your dog’s intestines after contact. Through its hook-like mouth, hookworms will suck blood from your dog’s blood vessels through the intestinal linings. This can be life-threatening to your dog due to the severe blood loss and thus causing anemia.
Your dog may contract hookworms through feeding on contaminated materials. This has been identified in dogs that love eating poop, especially from other animals. Some of the symptoms of hookworm infection may include bloody diarrhea and general body weakness. It is important to understand how dangerous this could be for your dog.
If your dog has hookworms, he will not be able to absorb nutrients into his system. This is because of the ability of the hookworm to feed on his blood vessels. In large numbers, hookworms will cause inflammation of the intestines.
Due to blood loss, your dog may have pale gums and itchy paws. At it’s extreme, hookworms can cause the death of your dog, especially if left untreated. For diagnosis, your vet will conduct a fecal float to look for eggs in the intestines. To treat the parasitic infection, your vet will advise on the dewormers to treat and prevent future infections.
Whipworms in dogs
Whipworms infect your dog by eating contaminated material. For instance, if your cat has whipworms and passes the eggs through fecal matter, your dog might contract the worms if he is a poop eater. This presents a greater risk for dog owners who also keep pets.
Most dogs will not show signs of whipworms, which live in the lower intestinal tract of the host. The lifecycle of the whipworms greatly increases the fatality of the infection. By this, I mean when adult worms lay eggs in the rectum, they pass it through fecal matter.
From this stage, the eggs can withstand the external environment for years, which makes it hard to control. On finding a new host, the whipworm will repeat this lifecycle over and over again.
Your dog eating cat poop increases the risk of getting whipworm. This is because it could take a while for the symptoms to show in your cat, while he has been passing whipworm eggs in his feces. For treatment, you will need to seek your vet’s opinion on who will diagnose your dog.
The diagnosis of whipworm may entail a stool examination whereby the vet will take a stool sample. The sample will be observed under a microscope to conclude a diagnosis.
Regular testing and prevention should be administered to your pets to treat the infections as early as possible.
How do I stop my dog from eating cat poop?
In addition to protecting our dogs from harmful parasites, dog eating poop is a gross behavior. We all want our dogs to have desirable characters in order to live well together.
However, due to the various causes of a dog eating cat poop, we end up experiencing this harmful behavior. Luckily, domestication has enabled us to come up with ways to reinforce behavior in pets. Some of the ways you might use to control dog eating cat-poop may include;
a) Proper diet
As mentioned above, dietary deficiencies can sometimes be the reason why your dog is eating cat poop. Poop eating behavior should be discouraged because it might become chronic with time.
Sometimes your dog will develop the habit of eating any poop, which endangers him. Dogs should be fed in accordance with their body weight as well as energy levels. In most cases, dogs with high energy levels will need a little more food than others. However, you should be sure that your dog’s diet will not cause obesity.
Puppies will feed more often than adult dogs, with recommendations of 3-4 times a day, while adult dogs feed 2 times a day. Most commercial dog foods will come with specifications and nutritional composition. It is important to treat any nutritional deficiencies in your dog to curb poop eating behaviors.
b) Empty Cat litter box regularly
Now, it is obvious that your dog will adopt cat poop eating behaviors simply because it is available. The truth is, he is not going to resist the temptation to dine on the latter. For instance, when you have both a cat and a dog, it is necessary to have them release waste in a designated place. However, it is quite likely that your dog will smell the cat poop from meters away.
However, emptying the litter box as soon as your cat releases itself is helpful. This will leave nothing to make your dog dig into the litter box. Remember that your dog has a strong sense of smell, which means that he may smell your cat’s poop from anywhere in the house.
c) Play with them
As discussed earlier in this article, dogs get bored pretty quickly. I mean, leave your dog for two hours and you will find him bored to death. And due to the need for humans to work and go about their daily business, we cannot afford to stay with our dogs full-time. However, you can make sure that he does not get bored when you are not home.
One way to do this is to always allocate some time to play with your dog every day. Our dogs require massive amounts of attention from us, their keepers. Your dog is going to be tired when you play or exercise him prior to leaving your home. This makes him want to rest, and thus eliminates boredom.
Alternatively, you may consider getting rotating and other sophisticated toys for him to play with when you are gone. This will keep him occupied and busy, and thus no need to distract himself through dining on cat poop.
You can also opt to leave your TV on for him when you are out of the house. The motion pictures and sounds will keep him occupied, trying to figure it out. Or play some special music designed to calm your dog.
Dogs are probably the most obedient pets we can ever keep. He wants to please his master and thus will refrain from doing things that are undesirable. This has made it easier for us to be able to control our dogs from doing certain things.
You can use restrictions to stop your dog from eating cat poop by making sure he does not have access to where the litter box is kept. To eliminate poop eating behavior, most dog owners use the intensive training method.
This is the most preferred way of getting your dog to stop all undesirable behaviors. Even though it takes resilience and patience, it works well to curb behavioral vices. If your dog is eating cat poop, you can train him to stay out of the litter box area. You can be able to do this by use of desensitization.
Desensitization is whereby you expose your dog to the stimulant that is making him want to do something. Through this, you can be able to reinforce this by offering your dog treats whenever he refrains to eat cat poop. If he tries to reach the litter box, continue training without rewarding him.
Training your dog out of poop eating behavior will depend on the reason why he is doing so in the first place. This is the only way you can be able to understand the method to use to curb the behavior. For instance, if your dog eats cat poop when he is bored, you should find ways to keep him busy so as to eliminate the behavior. You can also teach him to be alone without self-destructive behaviors.
My final thoughts
You should also consider training a few commands for your dog in an effort to curb the behavior. This might include and not limited to ‘leave it,’ ‘stop,’ and ‘don’t.’ However, even as you try to reinforce appropriate behavior in your dog, you should do so gently, without yelling at him.
In addition, you should consult your vet whenever you discover your dog eating cat poop. This way, you will be able to deworm him and protect him from internal parasites. These parasites, as discussed above, may cause fatal illnesses if left untreated.
It is important to understand that dogs in the wild would be okay engaging in such behaviors. However, the pets law requires dog owners to protect their dogs and make sure they are healthy because of breeding and domestication. To keep your pup healthy at all times, consult your vet on the best care and treatment for him