Dogs often investigate the litter box, which can be a problem if you have cats. Slightly overzealous. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch your dog in the act of breaking into the litter box, but if you’re like most pet owners, you’ll learn the hard way. Nothing says “I know what you did” quite like a dog that is giggling despite having cat poop stuck to its teeth.
Why Is My Dog Eating Cat Litter?
Why, then, would a dog ingest cat litter? To begin, canines have a keen sense of smell. According to the experts, a dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more acute than that of a human.
Alexandra Horowitz, a researcher in canine cognition, provided a more compelling illustration of how we might notice if a teaspoon of sugar were added to our coffee. Conversely, a dog has the ability to sniff out a single teaspoon of sugar in a volume of water equal to that of two Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Having the litterbox in an easily accessible area is a great invitation for a dog to investigate, as the dog perceives the world through smell. Similar to humans, dogs scavenge for food and sniff out new experiences.
If your pet is outside and comes across a dead animal, the same rules apply. Dogs live in a world where opportunity and curiosity frequently collide, with sometimes unpredictable results.
Can Eating Litter Be Harmful To My Dog?
Somewhat, but not entirely. There is a veritable plethora of odors emanating from the litter box, which may or may not include the cat’s feces and urine.
A few examples of the many forms that litter can take are newspaper pellets, corn cob granules, wooden pellets or shavings, and clay litter.
The large volume of cat urine is bound to the surrounding litter particles by the clay additives found in clumping litters, such as sodium bentonite. These components are not typically considered toxic, but they can be problematic if consumed in large quantities.
However, many dogs have been observed consuming cat litter and cat feces with either no ill effects or mild gastrointestinal signs like loose stool.
Dogs primarily prefer eating the feces, though some litter is also consumed due to proximity.
Observe your pet’s bowel movements for the next 24 hours if you know for sure that they used the litterbox, to rule out the possibility of an impaction.
Your pet needs to see a vet right away if you see them arching their back, vomiting, or both.
If your dog eats too much litter, it can get stuck in his digestive tract, and in the worst case, he’ll need surgery to get rid of it.
If you don’t take your cat to the vet for annual intestinal parasite screenings (fecal tests) or give them monthly preventatives, you may have a problem with parasites.
Furthermore, outdoor cats are more likely to have intestinal parasites, which can be passed unknowingly to the dog if the canine uses the litterbox.
Many people believe that their pets will show signs of illness if they have parasites, but in reality, this is rarely the case.
Which Types of Cat Litter Are Dangerous for Dogs?
If your dog has a sensitive stomach, you should keep them away from cat litter to prevent them from getting sick.
Cat litter can irritate your dog’s intestines because it absorbs liquid and moves slowly through the digestive tract. Clumping cat litters, however, pose the greatest health risks.
Urine is more easily removed from the tray because these clump together when they absorb liquid. If your dog accidentally ingests one of these cat litters, it could cause a blockage in the digestive tract.
The 5 Steps to Follow If Your Dog Ate Cat Litter:
1. Stop them from eating more!
First, make sure your dog and other pets aren’t exposed to any more cat litter. Keeping them isolated is the norm while you assess the situation and clean up the mess.
2. Call your veterinarian
Your next step should be to contact a nearby veterinary clinic or, if it’s after hours, an emergency animal hospital.
They’ll need to know how big your dog is, what kind of cat litter he or she ingested, and how much, if any, was consumed; for example, did the dog eat a few grains that fell to the floor, or did it dig into the litter box and eat the entire contents? Your veterinarian will also want to know if your dog has shown any signs of stomach distress.
3. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions
If you discover that your dog has been eating cat litter, your veterinarian is the best person to advise you on what to do next.
As long as your big dog seems fine and it was only a few grains, the vet may tell you to wait and see if any problems arise.
They may advise you to take swift action if your dog is particularly small, if a large amount was consumed, or if you use clumping litter. The suggestion that you bring them in to induce vomiting is one possibility.
If necessary, they may even suggest that you induce vomiting in the comfort of your own home. Medicines to aid feces in passing through the digestive system may also be suggested.
4. Don’t try to treat your pet alone
There is a widespread misconception that pet owners can successfully treat their animals at home without professional help. All the more so if they have experience with dogs and have been in a similar predicament in the past.
But keep in mind that every circumstance and dog is unique, so it’s not a good idea to generalize based on what your vet told you to do last time or what you read online.
When a sick animal is brought in despite multiple attempts at treatment by the owner, it can be very disheartening. Even if we want to, we can’t always treat people the way we’d like to.
As an example, some pet owners will give their animals peroxide in the hopes that it will induce vomiting.
If the dose or concentration is wrong, however, your veterinarian may decide against forcing vomiting.
Remember that vomiting is not a risk-free option; the litter could become stuck in the esophagus, your dog could contract pneumonia from breathing in the vomit, or your dog could have an adverse reaction to the medication.
If your veterinarian suggests inducing vomiting, it’s because it’s the best course of action. Calling your vet for some free advice is always a good idea.
5. Watch your pet for symptoms
Keep an eye out for signs of illness no matter what you and your vet decide to do. Even if your dog vomits up most of the litter, there is still a chance that enough is left to cause a blockage, and this is especially true if you wait.
Be on the lookout for symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, fatigue, and abdominal pain for at least 24 to 48 hours.
Constipation, straining, and bloody feces are also signs that the litter may have become lodged in the cat’s digestive system.
Preventing Dogs From Eating Litter
Removing your dog’s access to the litter box is the simplest and safest way to prevent your dog from ingesting cat litter.
As pet owners, it is our responsibility to take our pets’ health into our own hands, and this is an approachable option for households of any size.
Before you do anything else, take stock of where your cat’s litter boxes currently are. A pet-proof (but cat-friendly) baby gate can be installed in an unused bathroom or bedroom.
You and your family can avoid jumping over baby gates and into the room more easily with the help of a handle on some models.
Households with large dogs would benefit greatly from installing kitty doors to basements or other dog-free zones. You should start by removing the cat flap from the door and providing a clean, quiet space away from the main part of the house where your cat can use the litterbox without fear of being seen.
For example, a senior cat shouldn’t have to jump over anything to get to the bathroom, so a baby gate with a cat door or positioning the gate so the cat can easily walk underneath while the dog can’t is a good idea if you’re using baby gates.
The best way to ensure that your dog stays occupied is to The natural curiosity of your dogs may lead them to investigate your cat’s bathroom habits. Cat feces is a preferred snack and plaything when boredom strikes.
To prevent this from happening, you should engage your dogs in activities that are beneficial to their health. The use of toys and games is recommended. Keep them occupied so they don’t have time to think of inappropriate things to do with their time.
Multiple daily cleanings of the litter box are recommended. Finally, a clean litterbox is a good deterrent against dogs eating the litter, and your cat will thank you for it.
Though it may take some ingenuity, you can rest easy knowing that your multiple pets are all in good hands.