If you are a dog owner, or you know one, you’ve probably learned that some dogs like scavenging through a cat‘s litter box, but why do dogs eat cat poop?
When puppies are born, mother dogs lick their little bums in order to keep them clean, and they eat some of their poo along the way. This is the way pups learn to clean themselves, so the taste of fecal matter is not unknown to them.
In this article, we will list all the reasons why dogs eat cat feces and find out whether it is dangerous for them and how to prevent it.
Why Does My Dog Eat Cat Poop: 6 Reasons
This nasty habit of eating poo is also known as coprophagia, and here are the six main reasons dogs tend to snack on it.
1. It Tastes Like Cat Food
A dog’s sense of smell is very strong, and although to us, cat poop smells awful, to your pooch it will probably smell like cat food or any delicious food your cat has eaten. And since it smells like that, the taste will be no different to them.
This is why you will catch your dog sniffing the cat’s litter and snacking on it.
2. Your Dog May Be Bored
Dogs are curious little creatures that like to explore the world around them, and if there is no outside stimulation, they can easily get bored.
If they don’t get enough activity throughout the day or have no toys to play with, their noses can lead them to the litter box for some new amusement, especially if that amusement is delicious.
3. Free Reward
Dogs love snacks. Each time they do something good or listen to your command they get rewarded for it with a little snack.
Eating poo from the litter box could be seen as a self-reward because every time they poke their nose in the litter they get a little poo surprise. This can easily become a habit, and you can end up having to stop this behavior.
4. Hiding An Accident
Accidents happen and they can be very unpleasant. So, if your pooch has ever been yelled at for messing up your carpet, they might learn to hide the crime scene evidence by eating their own poo.
Unfortunately, they may end up liking it, and it only gets worse when they discover that “snacks” from the cat litter box taste just as delicious.
It is always better to potty train your dog than to shout at them for doing their business inside the house. After all, accidents can happen sometimes.
One more reason pet owners have trouble with their little fido eating cat feces is that dogs sometimes do it because they are stressed.
Change of environment, being left alone for a long period of time or loud noises are some of the reasons dogs can get stressed. They deal with it in different ways and eating poo can be one of them.
6. You Don’t Feed Them Enough
Have you ever checked the serving sizes on the back of the bag of your dog’s food? They are there for a reason. Serving sizes depend on the activity, breed, and weight of your dog, and not feeding them enough can result in nutritional deficiencies.
In order to compensate for this dietary deficiency, your pooch can search for other food resources, such as from your cat’s litter box.
Can Cat Feces Damage My Dog’s Health?
Even though cat poo is not always harmful to your pet’s health, there are some risks to consider.
A little bit of poo won‘t hurt them but take your dog to the vet regularly or whenever you suspect that something is wrong with them.
Risk Of Becoming Infected By Harmful Bacteria
If your dog ingested feces from an animal that has salmonella or E.Coli in its system, it can infect your pooch and damage their health. Salmonella can cause your dog to vomit or have bloody diarrhea, so always monitor your dog’s behavior and health.
Since cats are hunters they can also ingest intestinal parasites from any rodents they eat. These may stay in feces, so when dogs eat it, they can get infected by these parasites.
Medications Can Get Into Your Dog’s System
Residue from medication can stay in the cat’s poo. If your pup eats it, their health can be affected depending on whether the drug they ingested is dangerous.
It Can Mess Up Their Bowel Movements
Not only is cat poo sometimes dangerous, but cat litter as well. A little bit of it is not a cause of concern, but if they consume it in large quantities, it can cause a blockage, especially if it’s a clumping type of cat litter.
If you are concerned, monitor your dog’s bowel movements. The matter is serious if your dog does not poop regularly or if you notice that the stool is different.
Read More: Why Does My Dog Poop So Much?
6 Ways How To Stop Your Dog From Eating Feces
Fortunately for dog owners, this poop-eating behavior can be stopped if the correct method is applied.
Here are six ways to prevent it.
1. Clean The Litter Box
Don’t leave the litter box dirty. Dispose of cat poo whenever you see your cat use the toilet. This way, there won’t be anything for your dog to eat.
If you don’t have time to clean the box every day, you can always invest in a good-quality self-cleaning litter box which traps the cat poo in a container your dog cannot reach.
2. Cat’s Litter Box Should Be Out Of Reach
If for some reason, you can’t clean the cat’s toilet regularly, you can switch to alternative methods. Putting the cat box out of your dog’s reach can be quite successful in preventing your pooch from being able to snack on its content.
Another useful method to try is to install a baby gate blocking the entrance to the room where the litter box is. Please note that this may only work if your dog is small and cannot jump over it.
3. Give Your Pooch Enough Dog Food
As we’ve already mentioned, your dog’s diet might be the reason for coprophagia. If you’re not sure if you’re feeding them enough, seek advice from the vet.
It’s essential for them to have a well-balanced diet so they don’t search for other food resources elsewhere, especially not from the litter box.
4. Treat Your Cat With Supplements And Food Additives
Since dogs have a strong sense of smell and taste cat feces can taste the same as cat food. However, there are stool deterrents available that can make a cat’s poo taste awful to your dog.
This supplement is given to cats and can slightly alter the smell and taste of their stool making it unpleasant for dogs. These food additives are perfectly safe for the cat.
5. Give A Dog-proof Litter Box A Try
Cats are super flexible and can squeeze into very tiny holes, and pet lovers used this natural gift to create the perfect dog-proof litter box.
These boxes usually have small openings, typically on the top, giving a placement that is too awkward for your dog to squeeze in. This method will most likely work on any dog breed and size unless your dog is tiny and very determined to get inside.
6. Hot Sauce And Black Pepper Will Teach Them A Lesson
Things like hot sauce have a very strong odor that makes your eyes water just by smelling it. The method of using these to spice up (pun intended) the cat’s poo has shown to be pretty successful.
Sprinkle a few drops of these into the litter box and it can repel even the most determined of dogs. If the smell is not repulsive enough, the spicy taste definitely will be.
Just don’t forget to discard it so your cat can do their business after.
Can You Train Your Dog To Stop Snacking On Cat Poop?
Yes, the methods mentioned above will most definitely work, but it’s always better to turn to dog training methods in order to avoid this poop-eating behavior in the future.
Dogs are intelligent little creatures and positive stimulation and training can end up being the best possible solution.
Teach them the “leave it” and “drop it” commands
Start teaching your dog different commands from a young age. This will not only discipline them, but it can also prevent them from eating stuff they found on the street or in the cat‘s litter box.
Commands like “leave it” or “drop it“ work best for when you catch your puppy eating something that can damage their health or something that is not meant for them, like eating from your plate.
Mental Stimulation Is Crucial
We’ve said before that dogs sometimes eat cat feces when they are bored, so giving them proper mental stimulation and enough activity will definitely help.
There are breeds that need plenty of activity so get a ball or a frisbee and take your dog outside to play with you. Run, throw the ball and have fun with your dog. This will tire them out, so they won’t need to look for other amusement when you get inside. Remember, even medium energy breeds still require plenty of exercise!
Dogs can also get stimulated in other ways. For example, there is a specially designed toy called a Kong, which is like a mental puzzle for your pooch. You can put treats inside it and your pup will stay occupied by trying to get it from inside the toy.
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Cat Poo Outside
Maybe you don’t own a cat, and there is no litter box to be eaten from. What do you do if your dogs eat cat poop outside? Whether it‘s the neighbor’s cat or a stray that occasionally finds its way into your yard, there are some methods that can help.
Firstly, ask your neighbor if they can keep their cat indoors or ask them to teach their cat not to come into your yard.
If this is a stray cat the first method we mentioned can help. Teach your dog to leave it whenever you catch them eating the poo.
You can buy a cat-proof fence panel that can be attached to the top of your fence. It’s spiky and cats won’t enjoy jumping on it, so this will definitely stop them from coming inside.
If all else fails, you can invest in motion-activated sprinklers. These things are pretty costly but they do the job of repelling cats out of your yard. This sensor-activated gadget detects when an animal crosses into your territory and shoots the water in its direction.
There you have it. An answer to every dog owner‘s question: why do dogs eat cat poop?
We hope that our solutions to this common issue will come in handy the next time you catch your little fido raiding the cat’s litter box.