Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop?
If you have ever seen your dog rummage through the cat’s litter box for pieces of poop, you will understand how frustrating and stomach turning it can be. Rest assured, this actually is a normal type of behavior for dogs, even if it disgusts us.
Though it can be normal, it’s best to try to deter this sort of behavior. Eating cat poop can lead to infections of parasites and cause intestinal disturbances. There are some actions you can take to try to break this habit, which we will discuss below.
What Does It Mean If My Dog Eats Cat Poop?
Coprophagy is the term used to describe the act of eating poop. It is common for people to think a dog eats cat poop because they have “some sort of nutrient deficiency“, this is usually not the case. Poop scavengers are typically eating poop as a sign of dominance, indicating to others that they are in charge.
That being said, there are some health conditions that can make your dog extremely hungry all the time. And this can be a reason they may try to eat poop out of the litter box. Some examples are Cushing’s Disease, Diabetes, and certain malabsorptive intestinal disorders.
Usually, if your dog has developed one of these health conditions, you will also notice other changes. These may include unexplained weight gain, unexplained weight loss, increased thirst, increased urination, vomiting, or diarrhea.
It’s always a good idea to have your dog checked out by their veterinarian if they all of a sudden start eating cat poop.
What Is So Enticing About The Poop?
When puppies eat poop, it’s more so out of curiosity and play. Other dogs may eat poop merely because it tastes good to them and is extremely malodorous. We all know how dogs love to chew on things that smell bad, such as worn socks, shoes, and dirty laundry (including underwear – that’s a common cause of intestinal obstruction in dogs). Finally, some dogs eat poop merely out of boredom or frustration.
Can My Dog Get Sick From Eating Cat Poop?
It is very common for dogs to eat cat poop and never get sick or have any problems. That being said, for some dogs, the cat poop can cause their stomach to get upset, resulting in either vomiting or diarrhea.
Additionally, many cats can have intestinal parasites that they pass in their feces. Often, these parasites are not visible to the naked eye and some cats may not even have any symptoms. So if your dog is eating cat poop from a cat with parasites, your dog can then become infected with these parasites.
How Can I Stop My Dog From Eating Cat Poop?
Getting your dog to stop eating cat poop will take a combinations of deterrence, training, and making the litter box inaccessible to your dog. We will break these down below.
This is the act of making eating the poop less attractive, rewarding, and enticing for your dog. There are actually products made specifically for this reason – to get your dog to stop eating the poop of another pet. There are a few options out there, but the oldest and most effective one is called For-Bid
For-Bid is a highly purified edible protein that comes in powder form. You sprinkle the powder into the cat’s food for the cat to eat. When eaten and sent through the cat’s digestive tract, it causes the cat’s poop to taste very bad. It is important to note that even though we as humans may think poop already tastes bad, this is not necessarily the case for dogs, but the For-Bid powder causes the poop to be distasteful to dogs’ taste buds.
If your dog is eating cat poop as a sign of dominance, out of frustration or boredom, or due to another behavioral issue, it is a good idea to seek out the help of either a certified dog trainer or a veterinary behaviorist. They can come to your home and spend some time with your dog and other pets in the home. They can get an idea of the social hierarchy and any stressors that may be present, while working with you to provide recommendations and changes in the environment.
Make sure your dog has lots of toys and enrichment to keep their body and mind entertained. If your schedule allows, try to play with them regularly and take them on daily walks. If your budget allows, taking them to regular dog training classes, dog parks, or agility courses will also help keep them stimulated and less inclined to eat their poop.
Litter Box Placement:
Since cats are typically very nimble and can easily get into places that dogs can’t, it is a good idea to put the litter box in a location that is inaccessible to your dog. This may mean putting it in a room closed off by a baby gate or even putting it up on an elevated perch.
There are also a variety of litter boxes available, some that are very closed off with only a small entry point for your cat. That way your dog can’t fit their head in it to grab the poop. Cleaning the litter box on a daily or twice daily basis is also a good idea. There are also self-cleaning litter boxes available such as the Litter Robot.
You will have to make sure these changes are okay with your cat, though. The last thing you want is to put the litter box in a new location or get a new litter box and then find your cat urinating or defecating outside of the box.
Every dog is different and these measures may or may not work completely for your individual dog. If you are worried your dog is eating poop because of something painful in their mouth or a medical condition, it’s also always a good idea to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. They can do a thorough examination on your dog and discuss if blood work may be needed.
Leslie Brooks graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in 2012. After graduation she moved to Indianapolis to do an intensive one-year internship at a specialty practice and then began working as a small animal general practitioner. She ran her own house call practice for three years, visiting pets in people’s homes. Currently, she works part time in clinical practice and volunteering her free time to serve pets of the homeless. Read more about us here.