Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop (And How Can You Make Them Stop)?

Why do dogs eat cat poop?

Dogs do loads of gross things, but eating poop has to be up there with the worst (along with licking your feet and sniffing butts). Eating cat poop, however, is totally natural behavior and something many dogs do. So, why do dogs eat cat poop? Is it safe for them to do it? And how can you stop it? Here’s everything you need to know about the weird and wonderful ways of doggos and why they’re happy eating cat poo.

Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop?

There are lots of reasons why dogs eat cat poop and cat litter. Some of them are perfectly normal and others you need to keep an eye out for. 

They’re Exploring 

Dogs are really curious animals and love to follow new sights and smells. They’re constantly going off to learn new things and explore the world around them. A big way that dogs explore is by using their mouth.

Similar to human babies, who put toys, socks, and thumbs, in their mouths, dogs can learn a lot through taste and texture. And it’s not just puppies! Adult dogs also use their mouths to satisfy their curiosity. Simply put, they might just be eating cat poop because they want to know what it is/what it tastes like.

The Taste

And whilst we’re on the topic of taste, that might be exactly why your pup is eating cat feces – however hard it is to admit. Cats are often fed diets with a higher fat and protein content which dogs love (and that’s why they like cat food too)! But cat food also contains some strong, artificial flavors which can pass to the cat’s feces, and this makes it particularly attractive to pups.

They’re Bored

Dogs need lots of stimulation to keep them happy and entertained. Plenty of walks, cute toys, playtime, and cuddles with you can help. But sometimes it’s difficult to entertain a pup all day long – and that’s when they seek out their own fun. If they’ve eaten cat poop in the past, they might know that they get a reaction out of you when they do it. Even if they’re not wanting to be told off, they’ve at least got your attention now!

It seems odd for pet parents who have to clean out their cat’s litter box, but these kitty bathrooms are quite fun places for dogs to play. All those exciting smells, crinkly cat litter, and knowing that they shouldn’t be there make them all the more appealing!

Is It A Habit?

OK, so it’s unlikely your pup wakes up every morning wanting to eat cat poo, but your dog hanging around the litter box might be a habit for another reason. Are they bored? Are they getting attention from you if they do go too close? Dogs are seriously smart animals and eating feces could be a habit because of something totally different. 

Nutritional Deficiencies

In some cases, dogs eating cat poop might be a sign of nutritional deficiencies. Cats digest a lot of their food but some nutrients, proteins, and fats may not be digested and end up in their feces. Dogs are really good (thanks to their scavenging nature) at hunting out nutrients and minerals that are missing from their diet. Unfortunately for you, they might find them in cat poop.

Most dogs get a balanced diet from good quality dog food. Some fresh dog food brands offer specific meals designed to your pup’s exact needs. If your doggo is eating a lower quality dog food, they might not be getting all the good bits they need in their diet.

Seeking out extra nutrients could also be a sign of a health issue or underlying condition. Intestinal parasites, hormonal imbalances, or poor intestinal absorption could be causing your pup to look for more nutrients. If you have a senior dog that starts to change its behavior (which could include spending more time in your cat’s litter box) it could be a sign of cognitive deterioration. If you suspect your pet is suffering from any of these, take them to the veterinarian to check.

dog exploring

Is Cat Poop Bad For Dogs?

So, we’ve answered why do dogs eat cat poop, but is it bad for them if they do?

Many dogs will rummage around a dirty little box and have no problems at all. But eating cat poop can sometimes be dangerous for your pup. Any kind of poop can contain harmful bacteria and parasites which can really affect your pup. These internal parasites can cause infections that might not always be visible.

But it’s not just cat feces that can be a cause for concern. Cat litter is also a problem – especially if eaten in large quantities. Cat litter can cause intestinal blockages which can be painful and potentially severe. If you think your doggo has been hanging around litter boxes, monitor them closely to make sure they can pass poop too. If you’re worried, seek veterinary advice.

Is a Dog Eating Cat Poop a Problem for Humans?

Some of the parasites or bacteria that your pup could pick up from cat poop can be transmitted to humans. Salmonella, for example, can cause fever, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.

It’s also just not particularly pleasant to think about your pup eating cat poop. Especially if they’re snuggling up to you in bed or…dare we say it… giving you a sloppy kiss. It’s not always harmful when your dog eats cat poop but it’s a behavior you probably want to stop.

How To Prevent Dogs From Eating Cat Feces

It might not be all that easy to stop your dog from exploring something which smells so intriguing (to them). You might have to try a couple of these to stop them from eating out of the litter box!

Clean Out Your Cat’s Dirty Litter Box Often

It might sound obvious, but removing cat feces from the cat box regularly will ensure your doggo hasn’t got a chance to eat them!

Make Sure Your Dog Is Engaged

As we mentioned, your dog might be eating cat poop because they’re bored. So a great way to make sure they’re not snacking on poop is to keep them engaged and active. Make sure they’re getting plenty of exercise and outdoor stimulation. When you’re home, entertain them with plenty of snuggles, a toy, and training sessions. A happy and engaged pup is less likely to go after your cat’s poop!

Check Their Diet

If your pup is eating poo because they’re not getting enough nutrients from their regular food, it may be time to change. Most food is specifically designed to be nutritionally balanced but if your dog’s isn’t, you need to change the brand. Often home-cooked dog food is lacking in a particular nutrient that your dog’s body might be craving.

Slowing down how your dog eats can also help them to absorb their food better. Try an interactive toy or a specially designed dog bowl that helps to stop them from gobbling it down all at once!

Remove The Cat Box

If you haven’t got time to regularly clean your cat’s litter box, a solution is to physically put the box somewhere your dog can’t reach it. You might want to have a separate ‘dog-free’ room for your cat to use or you can put up baby gates around the box.

Positive Training

Dogs react really well to positive reinforcement – and training them to not eat poop is no different. Even though your initial reaction might be to gag and shout at your pup, that reaction is probably not going to help (or stop them from doing it again). Instead, reward your pup with a tasty treat (such as frozen watermelon) when they don’t go straight for the litter box. 

If you’re out and about, practice the essential commands such as ‘leave’ and ‘drop’. Reward them when they do this with a treat or lots of petting!

Final Thoughts

You might not like it but many dogs like to eat cat poop. There are many reasons why they do it and it’s, generally, normal canine behavior. It can sometimes be an indication of dietary deficiency, however, so make sure you’re feeding your pup well-balanced dog food. Understandably, you probably want to stop this behavior. There are lots of ways of doing it, but the best is to offer them a much more delicious alternative treat!

Does your dog ever eat cat poop? How do you get them to stop?

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