Have you ever caught your dog ransacking through your cat’s litter box? More so with energetic merriment while corroding the feline droppings like they are some graham crackers? Admittedly, this a disgusting sight and an embarrassing one, if you’ve got visitors around.
At that very moment, all you can picture is the abhorrence in seeing someone ingest even human feces. But the question is, can dogs get sick from eating cat poop? Is cat poop really as disgusting and harmful as we think?
Not quite! - not, at least, for your dog who sees feline waste the same way you see a box of Domino’s Pizza.But frankly speaking, cat poop can carry a lot of potential risks that can be fatal to your dog’s health
“ Fun Fact: Dogs can gain weight from eating cat poop, due to the fact that the droppings contain a high amount of calories.”
With all the dry dog food and other dog yummies you’ve stored up in the house, why would your dog even bring himself down to eating cat feces?
Perhaps, you’re the one adding so much royal importance to your dog, because the truth is that dogs are scavengers by nature, so, as a result, they tend to sniff and eat just about anything they cross parts with.
Being scavengers, dogs love any presumably edible thing that has a strong smell, which cat droppings unarguably come of as.
As a matter of fact, your dog sees feline droppings as food because cat food usually contains more fat and protein, hence making anything they excrete taste yummy for your dog. Certainly, no dog would waste a minute in devouring anything that tastes as nice as a cat poop.
On the flip side, eating cat poop may also be as a result of maternal behavior in dogs. It’s more predominant in dogs who have just given birth.
The behavior sees them eating and ingesting puppies' poop, as well as licking their urine. Considering this, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise when your dog, especially one who has just given birth, eats cat poop.
The habit of eating feces is called Coprophagia .
Can Dogs Get Sick From Eating Cat Poop?
You’re probably worried about your dog’s health after you caught him eating poop.
The question is, can dogs get sick from eating cat poop?
The answer is a big “Yes”.
Your dog is exposed to health risks not only when he eats cat poop, but also when he comes in contact with it.
What Are the Implications Associated with Eating Cat Poop?
First, cats often carry a bacteria called toxoplasmosis, which is caused by the T.gondi parasite. Cats excrete their poop with a T.gondi parasite present in it. So, when your dog eats and ingests poop of a cat living with this parasite, he will also contract the bacteria, toxoplasmosis.
What’s the aftermath? After exposure to toxoplasmosis, your dog may begin to lose appetite, after which he may start vomiting and start showing signs of weakness and weight loss. Even worse, he may have diarrhea to the point of dehydration.
It is in your best interest to watch out for any of these signs after your dog eats cat poop so that he can be treated early enough.
Humans can also contract Toxoplasmosis, and there are cases where it caused serious psychological issues to patients, although such cases have never been confirmed in dogs.
As if Toxoplasmosis isn’t bad enough, cat poop can also contain a protozoan organism called Giardia. This organism emanates from a cat's poop as a cyst, and it can be very hazardous to your dog’s health and can survive a long time in his body if he sniffs it while eating poop.
Another health risk involved with your dog eating cat poop is gastric distention , which is a result of your dog eating the litter in a cat box. The main components in a cat box are old dirt and bentonite.
Your dog can eat them together with cat poop, and these components can grow decuple of their initial size when they come in contact with the liquid in your dog’s stomach, hence causing blockages in the intestine.
Gastric distention is the chronic case of this blockage and can be fatal to your dog if not treated within 24 hours of development.
Also, cat poop can also contain tapeworms, hookworms, and roundworms which can grow in your dog and cause loss of appetite and weight loss as Toxoplasmosis can.
Frighteningly, roundworms can last a long time if your cats poop outside with the worms present in the droppings.
When this is the case, your dog can come in contact with them one way of the other.
Lastly, cat poop also commonly carry another bacteria known as Salmonellas. This is the most contagious of the bacteria that can be found in cat poop, and it can be easily contracted by humans.
For this reason, I suggest you streamline contact with your dog if you notice any sign of him falling sick after eating cat poop.
What makes it difficult to handle situations such as this is that a cat may not fall sick or show any sign of carrying any of these bacteria, which makes it a catch-22 situation in administering medicine to a kitty that can harm your dog.
How Do You Treat a Dog That Got Sick from Eating Cat Poop?
Thing is if your cat if free of bacteria, its poop may not be as harmful as we think, except if, of course, your dog eats cat box litter with the poop, which can cause blockages in the intestine - just as explained somewhere in this article.
So how do you treat a dog who got sick from eating cat poop?
First, you must detect and treat this early, as it makes it all less tasking.
The good news is many of the bacteria are easy to treat. With a few antiparasitic medications, whatever parasites picked up from a cat’s poop are going to be flushed out.
While administering medicine, IV fluids can also help a lot in fastening up the healing process. A veterinarian should be the one doing all this, not you.
Also, for a dog that suffers gastric distention, surgery may be required to remove the litters that are growing unfetteredly in his system.
How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Cat Poop
Keep in mind that stopping a dog from eating cat poop is a Herculean task, so the best option is to keep cat poop out of sight as much as possible. What are the options?
- Keep the litter box out of sight. Since dogs are bigger than cats, you can keep a litter box in a tight or small position that cannot be accessed by your dog.
- Place baby gates at strategic locations in the house. This will help both animals stay away from each other and afford each some privacy. You can place the baby gates at stairways or the doorway. Just ensure they can’t access one another.
- Use a dog-proof litter box. There are litter boxes that are dog-proof and with closed tops in the market. They make it difficult for dogs to access your cat's waste.
While you can control contact between your dog and cat in the house, know that your dog can also eat cat droppings while taking a walk outside, or even when neighbors' kitties come visiting while you aren’t around.
Eating poop is a natural behavior in dogs, so one can only hope that one’s dog doesn’t eat cat poop while he’s outside. On the other hand at home, try as much as possible to keep the litter box out of sight and ensure you collect waste samples of both your dog and cat for testing upon request from a veterinarian. This will keep your pets free of bacteria.