Your Pet Question:
I have two puppies, one is a 10-month-old female Jack Russell, and the other is a 12-week-old male German shepherd cross Husky. I also have three cats and lately my puppies have been pulling the cat’s feces out of the litter box and eating it! I have tried to discourage this behaviour–spraying them with water and telling them “NO!” I have tried closing the bathroom door where the litter box is and also tried moving the litter box to different locations but it just confuses my cats. Help!
Michelle Drew, Hamilton, Ontario
The Expert Says:
Dogs eat poop because it contains vitamins produced by the intestinal flora that the animal cannot absorb through the intestinal wall and they are particularly fond of cat poop because it’s high in protein. This practice is called “coprophagia” and it is common among puppies; but they typically grow out of it when they realize their world offers a lot tastier choices than poop! However, feces can contain many parasites, including giardia, coccidia, roundworms and whipworms and the chemicals in clumping litter can also pose a serious health threat. A change in food might be in order, as the dog will perceive the presence of nutrients in his stools and then leave the poop alone. Also, eliminating table scraps, reducing mealtime portions, providing regular meals at regular intervals-will all help as well. And restrict access to feces-rich areas as much as possible. If the behaviour persists into adulthood, veterinarian intervention will be required.
Dr. Kal, Ghafeer, DVM, MBA, BAH, Burlington, Ontario