Is Cat Feces Dangerous for Dogs Who Ingest It?

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Also known as coprophagia, feces ingestion is a normal occurence among dogs.
Also known as coprophagia, feces ingestion is a normal occurence among dogs. (Image: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

The act is disgusting, but dogs eating cat feces is a regular, even normal occurrence. Dogs are attracted to the taste of cat poop and may consume it because it's a treat to them, or because it contains certain vitamins and nutrients they’re lacking in their own diets. Meanwhile, some dogs eat cat poop out of boredom. Either way, some health concerns are associated with a dog regularly eating cat feces. All efforts should be made to curb this habit.

Parasites

If a cat has intestinal parasites, they can passed via feces to the dog. All animals in your household should be periodically checked for parasites through a stool sample evaluation by your vet. You'll need to discourage your dogs from eating poop outside, too, since you can't know the health backgrounds of whatever animal left the droppings.

Chemicals and Clay

Many commercial cat litters are made from clay or utilize heavy chemical elements to help mask odor. The litter that covers the cat feces can actually be more harmful to the dog than the contents of the poop itself. The chemicals in cat litter can be toxic to your dog if consumed in large quantities. Excess consumption of clay-based cat litter can lead to intestinal obstruction in your dog's bowels.

Curbing Poop Consumption

It can be difficult to train your dog away from the nasty habit, as many dogs are simply attracted to the taste of cat poop. A self-cleaning litter box that immediately disposes of cat feces, or situate your cat litter box in such a way that the dog can't easily access it. Consider a baby gate, a covered litter box or an area of your home that is inaccessible to your pup. Keep your dog leashed if he eats cat poop when he's outside, and look into commercial products that you can sprinkle on feces to make it taste unappealing to dogs.

Additional Consequences

If your dog regularly visits your cat’s litter box for a snack, the cat can become annoyed with the intrusion and start eliminating elsewhere in your home, which leads to a variety of other problems. Your dog may also compulsively eat poop if he's bored or sick, in which case you should consult a vet to rule out other potential health concerns and to evaluate possible nutritional deficiencies in his diet. The vet may refer you to a behaviorist to help determine if improper socialization contributes to the problem and foster training to correct it.

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