My dog is eating faeces
Noticing that your dog is eating or chewing faeces can be quite alarming – and weird. Whether bird droppings, eating their own faeces or faeces from cats, it’s actually quite normal behaviour. It can, however, also be problematic.
Why is my dog eating faeces?
Prior to dogs becoming part of the family, their instinctual behaviour was hunting and scavenging. Other common reasons may include an appealing smell in the faeces or a vitamin deficiency in the diet.
The dangers of ingesting faeces
If your dog is eating their own faeces then there is no reason to be alarmed. However, eating faeces from other animals could be a problem. Eating cat stool, for example, may risk your dog getting a parasitic infection. Additionally, toxins from cat litter are toxic to dogs. Certain bird droppings may cause a condition called Histoplasmosis which is a fungal infection.
How will I know when my dog is sick as a result of eating faeces?
Depending on the type of faeces your dog ate, the symptoms will differ. Ingesting cat faeces with parasites for example may cause your pooch to get worms. Typical symptoms of worms are diarrhoea and vomiting.
Histoplasmosis caused by ingesting bird droppings may cause a variety of symptoms. This includes coughing, difficulty breathing and jaundice. With jaundice you may notice yellowing in the eyes and gums of your dog. Moreover, an ultrasound performed by your vet may show an enlarged liver or spleen.
In most cases, your vet will need to perform various blood and/or urine tests in order to diagnose a fungal infection. Many of the symptoms causing illness as a result of a dog eating faeces is similar to other unrelated conditions.
How do I prevent my dog from eating faeces?
Negative reinforcement is encouraged, and consistency in discipline is key. Teaching your pup from a young age that this is “bad” behaviour may assist in deterring your dog from eating faeces and droppings. The challenge with all dog owners is that dogs have child-like behaviour and may likely eat poop when you are not looking. As a dog owner, you can ensure that when walking your dog you are stopping any smelling of faeces. At home, you should ensure that your garden faeces is regularly cleared. Cat litter boxes should also be kept away from dogs.
Additionally, consulting with your veterinarian is an important step in attempting to deter this behaviour. Should your dog have a deficiency in their diet, rectifying this may stop this unpleasant behaviour.