And now your dog has come over, tail wagging wildly and begging for a pet. The only way you can be sure, though, is if you look closely and find some crumbles of cat litter embedded in the fur around your dog’s mouth. Once again, your dog has been rummaging through the litter box. Absolutely revolting, right?
Weird as it may seem to us, the average dog will eat cat poop. Here’s everything you need to know if you ever catch your dog eating cat poop, including the reasons why dogs engage in coprophagy and what you can do about it.
Is It Normal For Dogs To Eat Cat Poop?
Dogs naturally have an interest in eating feces, and not just that of the family cat. Coprophagia, the practice of consuming human or animal waste, is so commonplace that it has its own scientific name.
Most canines have sampled cat feces at some point in their lives. If you don’t think your dog has, it’s only because you haven’t seen it happen. Your dog probably doesn’t share our revulsion at the prospect of consuming cat feces.
The mother dog licked the puppies clean when they were young, and the young dogs accidentally ate the feces.
It assisted in restocking their digestive system with beneficial bacteria. Dogs are socialized to view poop-eating as normal because their mothers eat it while cleaning up after them.
Reasons Why Dogs Eat Cat Poop
It’s important to distinguish between two broad types of canine excretory ingestion motivations. However, there can also be medical causes, even though behavioral ones account for the vast majority.
Unfortunately, many dogs, and possibly most, develop the habit of eating feces. Actually, there are some canines that appear to enjoy the taste. This is the kind of behavior that can easily turn into a ingrained habit.
When your dog finally gets to the “prize” (a dirty litter box), they’ll feel rewarded, and they’ll be more likely to try again in the future.
A dog’s natural inclination is to use the litter box, even though they know they shouldn’t, much like ours is to reach for the bag of potato chips despite knowing it isn’t a good choice.
Puppies often resort to feces eating because they are bored. Since cats use their mouths to investigate new environments, the litter box is no exception; when they discover a hidden treat, they keep returning.
Dogs are less likely to engage in coprophagia if they are given regular opportunities for exercise, mental stimulation, and socialization.
Some dogs, surprisingly, start eating feces after they have an accident inside the house. Some canines will eat the evidence of an accident to avoid being punished for it if their owners have previously disciplined them in some way (even just by yelling or scolding).
One more reason to avoid punishment when potty training your dog. If they learn to enjoy the flavor of feces, the problem may spread to the litter box as well.
Last but not least, when stressed, some dogs resort to eating their own feces. Like humans who crave certain foods when they’re feeling down, dogs often seek solace in activities they enjoyed as young. As an extreme example, some dogs may eat their own feces.
Dogs eating cat feces is not very common, but when it does occur, veterinarians often find a medical cause.
In cases where dogs are being fed a diet that does not provide all of the nutrients they require, malnutrition is the most likely cause.
Dogs fed a homemade diet or one that has not been AAFCO-certified to meet all of the nutritional needs for that animal (this information can be found on the label) are the most common cases we see of this.
Parasites, malabsorption, and endocrine or hormonal imbalances are also possible causes. Sometimes, cognitive impairment can explain the sudden onset of the behavior in an older dog.
If your veterinarian determines that your dog’s coprophagy has a medical basis, you will be able to treat the underlying condition and avoid any further complications. The therapy could also help with the problem of having the urge to eat feces.
What Does Eating Cat Poop Mean In A Dog?
To those who have wondered, “Why does my dog eat cat poop?” I hope this explanation helps.
As canine citizens, we expect no less of our canine companions. Should we, however, stand aside and let them finish up? A resounding “no” must be the reply. Although this is typically how people act, it may indicate that something is wrong.
Poop-eating can become a serious problem for some dogs. This is due to the fact that it reinforces the behavior in question.
Through repeated reinforcement, your dog learns to associate the poop bowl with a tasty treat. Our discussion of training methods for changing ingrained patterns of behavior toward self-reward will continue below.
As a result of boredom, this behavior may occur. Dogs with nothing better to do will inevitably look into the litter box.
Dogs are less likely to resort to poop-eating as entertainment if they get plenty of playtime and structured exercise.
During the course of housebreaking, some puppies develop a disturbing habit: eating their waste. The next time they are caught defecating inside, they may try to hide the evidence by eating it in order to avoid punishment. Puppies soon graduate from their own waste to that of the family cat.
Keep in mind that eating feces may be an indication of anxiety. Dogs that are under a lot of emotional strain are more likely to develop this condition. They are employing it in much the same way that some people eat chocolate to calm themselves.
What Are Dogs Lacking When They Eat Cat Poop?
A dog’s interest in cat feces may have a physiological basis. It is likely due to malnutrition (a lack of nutrients in the diet).
Since it can be challenging to get all the nutrients into the food in the correct amounts, it is most common in dogs that are fed a homemade diet. AAFCO guarantees that commercially available dog foods are nutritionally complete and balanced.
An underlying medical condition is also a possibility. Parasites (like worms) and poor digestion are two examples.
A hormonal or endocrine imbalance is another possibility. This behavior often develops alongside other symptoms of dementia in senior dogs.
In the event that you have any suspicions about your dog’s behavior, it is best to have them examined by a vet.
Is Cat Poop Harmful For Dogs?
Eating cat feces is not without its dangers. Salmonella and E. coli are just two examples of the potentially harmful bacteria that could be present. In addition to making your dog ill, some of these are also carried by dogs and can be passed on to humans.
It’s possible that the cat was taking medication that was later excreted in the feces, which could be dangerous for your dog. Cat poop may harbor worms or other intestinal parasites that can infect your dog.
An even bigger issue arises if cat litter has been used to cover the feces. Dogs can get intestinal blockages from eating too much cat litter, especially clumping cat litter.
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Cat Poop
Avoid getting worked up. You shouldn’t worry if your dog accidentally eats some cat poop.
Most dogs will be perfectly fine and may not understand why you are making such a big deal about it, but it is important to keep an eye on them and report any changes to your vet.
The most important thing is to prevent this from becoming a routine for your dog and to take action if it does so again.
Can Dogs Get Sick From Eating Cat Feces and Cat Litter?
Dogs that consume the waste of another animal present some health risks.
First, your dog could get sick from the other animal if it has parasites or harmful bacteria like E. coli or Salmonella.
As an often-overlooked detail, if the cat is on medication, the dog may become ill after consuming the cat’s feces, which may contain drug residues.
And of course, your dog’s kisses and saliva can transfer whatever they eat to your kids and grandkids. You should avoid kissing your dog if he or she has a history of litter box rummaging and always wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Cat Poop
To what end does my dog eat cat feces? While dogs might not think twice about eating cat poop, very few dog owners share this opinion.
You’ll be relieved to hear that we have compiled a list of the best tricks and tips to avoid this issue altogether.
Check Your Dog’s Diet
First, let’s look at this, since it’s so obviously important. Feed your dog a nutritious, well-rounded diet.
We recommend feeding your dog a commercial dog food, but only in the amounts recommended. After consulting with your veterinarian, you may decide to switch your dog to a diet that better suits its needs.
This may be a senior dog food or a high-protein diet for working dogs. You might want to try a food designed for dogs with sensitive stomachs if your dog experiences stomach trouble after eating cat poop.
Use a slow-eating dog bowl or a kibble treat dispenser to train your dog to eat more leisurely. This lessens the likelihood that they will eat whatever they come across, including waste.
To prevent your puppy from developing a yucky habit of its own, use only reward-based potty training methods.
The “leave it” command is a must-have skill for canine companions. Practice with something of low value (maybe some kibble) and then reward with something more desirable.
Cat feces can be cleaned up, but it takes time and persistence. Your dog will learn that avoiding feces is more beneficial than eating it through this method of positive reinforcement training.
Check for Intestinal Parasites and Illness
Get in touch with your vet ASAP. Investigate whether or not the behavior has a medical explanation. You should regularly treat your dog for intestinal parasites.
Keep Your Dog Occupied
Instead of encouraging your dog to dig in the cat litter, provide him with a wide variety of entertaining activities to choose from. Engage them in a lot of games and training to keep their minds and bodies active.
Use a Cat Repellent in the Yard
Even if you don’t share your home with a cat and a dog, any dogs who frequent your yard may be exposed to cat poop.
To stop cats from defecating in areas where your dog might find it, you can use an outdoor cat repellent. Sprays, granules, cat scat mats, and ultrasonic deterrents are just a few of the many types of cat repellents available.
Keep the Litter Box Clean
Dogs aren’t as likely to use a litter box if there’s nothing in it for them to smell. So, make it a habit of disposing of used cat litter in an area where dogs can’t get to it as soon as possible.
If you are frequently away from home and unable to do this, consider purchasing a litter box that cleans itself.
Cat Food Supplements
In order to make your cat’s waste less appetizing to dogs, you can give them a supplement. Only after you’ve tried just about everything else should you try this. Never attempt anything without first consulting your cat’s veterinarian.
Buy a Dog-Proof Litter Box
When all else fails, a barrier must be erected to prevent your dog from gaining access to the litter box. Covered litter boxes designed specifically for dogs are available.
There will be access for your cat, but not for your dog. You could also put the litter box somewhere your dog can’t get to.
A dog or baby gate could be used for this purpose. Your cat should be able to fit through the bars, but your dog should be unable to.
A muzzle is the last available physical barrier. You’ll want one that lets your dog breathe and drink, but prevents him from picking up cat poop. Although extreme, this method has proven to be highly effective for many canine patients.
Many of these strategies are intended to be short-term fixes. If you’ve been able to train and occupy your dog to the point where he no longer has this habit, you can gradually phase out most of the precautions.
Final Words on Why Dogs Eat Poop…
Dog owners everywhere can finally rest easy, for we have an explanation for their canine companions’ penchant for feline waste.
Your dog is perfectly normal if disgusting if he or she eats cat feces. They partake because it’s easy to get their hands on, as well as because of the pleasant aroma and flavor. However, if this behavior becomes chronic, it may indicate a health problem that needs to be addressed with your veterinarian.
As a stopgap measure, you can do a lot in terms of diet, exercise, and environmental constraints to discourage the practice. Have fun!