Dog Health: Can Dogs Get Sick From Eating Cat Feces?
Fluffy and Rover May Share More Than Affection
Does Eating Cat Feces Harm Your Dog?
If you have caught your puppy raiding your kitty's litter box in search of some "kitty nuggets," or he enjoys some buried goodies outside in the yard, you may feel as if you are stuck in a "wormy" situation. Keep Fluffy's droppings out of reach from now on; cat doo-doo is not one of the healthiest snacks for several reasons.
Health Risks for Dogs Eating Cat Feces
When your puppy goes "treasure hunting", he may get much more than a tasty treat. Depending on the lifestyle of your cat and her level of care, several types of parasites could be waiting for this opportunity to continue their life cycles. Cat droppings, under the right circumstances, may contain protozoans such as giardia and infectious eggs from roundworms, hookworms and occasionally whipworms, according to Pet Education.
Types of Worms
While there is no doubt that Rover can get worms by ingesting kitty "Tootsie Rolls," in order for this to happen, Fluffy has to have worms to start with, and they have to be the right kind. For instance, dogs are not primary hosts of Toxocara cati, the most common type of roundworm found in cats. However, dogs and cats both can be infected with the less common Toxascaris leonina roundworm species, according to Mar Vista Animal Medical Center. Similarly, with hookworms, the Ancylostoma tubaeforme species typically infects only cats, while the opportunistic Ancylostoma braziliense and Uncinaria stenocephala may infect both cats and dogs.
In order to share your kitty's worms, Rover must consume feces containing eggs at the infectious stage. This means timing is an important factor. Make sure you clean your yard often. If your puppy eats some cat droppings, consider that the larvated eggs of Toxascaris leonina do not become infective until at least a week after being shed, according to the Companion Animal Parasite Council. Hookworm larvae, under optimal conditions, reach the infective stage in approximately four to seven days, according to the Center for Food Security and Public Health. This means that under the right circumstances, Fluffy's feces may have already decomposed leaving behind eggs that can stick to your dog's paw pads and ingested when your dog grooms himself.
Long Lasting Effects
While you can clean the litter box promptly at home, the great outdoors is more difficult to manage. If your kitty has roundworms and uses the outdoors as her litterbox, the hardy roundworm eggs may survive there for years. Hookworms aren't so tough. They can't survive freezing temperatures. After a few months outside, their energy reserves are depleted, and they tend to die, according to Marvista Vet Animal Medical Center.
While your puppy or dog may no longer be able to eat these feces as they have broken down by that time, as already mentioned, he may still ingest the eggs indirectly since they are sticky and attach to your dog's paws and he then may ingest the eggs by grooming.
What About Protozoans?
Worms aside, you may be concerned if puppy may also ingest protozoans when he goes for some kitty nuggets. Luckily, it appears that coccidia are species-specific, For instance, Isospora canis of dogs should not affect cats, while Isospora felis should not affect dogs, according to Dr. Hines. With giardia, it seems that there is some controversy, but chances are dogs can get giardia from cats by eating fresh feces.
Other Health Concerns
Ever wondered why Rover is so attracted to cat feces? Chances are, most dogs are attracted by the taste. Cat food is higher in fat and protein compared to dog food, and therefore, cat waste is more tastier. Also, consider that cat litter may contain chemicals, and clumping litter can cause blockages in the intestines. This behavior quickly becomes self-rewarding, so it is important to nip it in the bud to avoid problems.
While limiting access to outdoor areas where your kitty has soiled may help prevent your puppy from acquiring worms, you can ensure they both are worm-free with a good worm-prevention routine. Collect a small fecal sample from each pet at regular intervals, and have your vet check for evidence of worms and protozoans. Take both pets to the vet for regular health checkups. Avoiding a wormy situation in the first place is a win-win proposition for all—especially since some parasites can also be transmitted to humans.
How to Stop a Dog From Eating Feces
For Further Reading
- How to Deworm your Dog With Safeguard
Liquid safeguard may be cost-effective for owners with many dogs. De-worming your dog is part of being a responsible dog owner. Whether you own a puppy or adult dog, a purebred dog or a mutt, you know the threat of pesky parasites is always there....