Could a Dog Die If it Ate Cat Poop?

by Amy M. Armstrong, Demand Media Google
    It is better for a dog's health if he doesn't like the taste of cat poop.

    It is better for a dog's health if he doesn't like the taste of cat poop.

    The basic answer to this question is yes, it is possible for a dog to die from eating cat poop. While the habit is more disgusting than it is likely to be fatal, a dog owner with a canine enjoying kitty nuggets should understand the dangers of dining from the litter box.

    It's Called Canine Coprophagia

    Veterinarians have a technical term for animal ailments. Dogs eating poop, including the chowing down on cat feces, is called canine coprophagia. While dogs don't consider it abnormal, veterinary practitioners do if the habit leads to eating more poop than regular food. Dogs enjoy feeding on poop for a variety reasons. The first is that the habit satisfies their primitive need to scavenge, according to the Vet Info website. Secondly, the stuff is just downright yummy to the dog. Its smell is appealing to dogs and it is high in protein.

    Toxic Parasites

    The trouble with pup chewing on kitty's dirty business is that cat poop is full of toxic parasites. It's one reason pregnant women are warned not to clean out litter boxes. According to the PetMD, cat feces contains the T. gondii parasite that causes toxoplasmosis. Eating cat poop isn't the only way a dog can be exposed to this ailment that most often results in fever, seizures, muscle weakness, lack of coordination, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. Blood work is required to confirm diagnosis. Antibiotics are used to treat the infection and, in most cases, dogs recover from exposure.

    Clumping and Blockages

    When a dog eats cat poop, he is bound to gulp cat litter at the same time. That same clumping action cat litter is famous for when kitty urinates will occur once the litter is exposed to the gastric juices of the dog's digestive system. While it is rare and a dog would have to finish off the equivalent of a seven-course poop-and-litter dinner, the possibility does exist that ingesting enough litter could cause a blockage. A veterinarian posting clinical experience on the Virtua Vet website shared the story of a basset hound that ate enough kitty litter to effectively shut down his intestines. More than five inches of hardened sand had dried the walls of the intestines and stuck. Fortunately, dogs -- like humans -- can live without all of the intestinal tract. Surgical removal of the affected area saved the dog's life. Without intervention, the dog may have died.

    Prevention

    Once hooked on kitty poo, it's difficult to get a canine addict to go straight. The best bet is to secure kitty's bathroom in a place where the dog can't get access. That however does not solve the problem of the dog eating cat poop outside. A dog known to have this misunderstood habit should not be allowed to wander outside unattended, according to the Vet Info website.

    About the Author

    Amy M. Armstrong is a former community news journalist with more than 15 years of experience writing features and covering school districts. She has received more than 40 awards for excellence in journalism and photography. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Washington State University. Armstrong grew up on a dairy farm in western Washington and wrote agricultural news while in college.

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