However, it’s not just cat poop that is appetizing to dogs; poop of all kinds is appealing to a dog’s hunger. We cover the scientific explanation for this below, as well as the possible health implications and how to put a stop to your dog’s cat poop-eating tendencies.
Reasons Dogs Eat Cat Poop
Many dogs eat cat poop. Why?
The simple answer to this question is: dogs are scavengers, and this is normal behavior for dogs. Meaning, dogs may eat almost anything if they’re hungry or enticed. And as scavengers, dogs actually enjoy eating poop of all kinds. While cat poop might smell revolting to human nostrils, it probably smells like regular cat food to dogs, which can make dogs eager to eat it.
Poop, to canines, is just another food item. So, no – dogs that eat cat poop are not abnormal or unnatural. Some dogs will even love the taste of it as it attracts them.
Sounds gross? It maybe is, but it helps to remember that we and dogs are not the same.
If your dog is eating cat poop from the litter box, it might point to a dietary or vitamin deficiency. If not, it might simply be an instinctive or exploratory behavior on your dog’s part.
In fact, mothers of puppies might actually consume the urine and turds of their young ones. So, if your dog suddenly starts eating cat poop, don’t be shocked.
Can Dogs Get Sick from Eating Cat Poop?
Yes, eating cat poop can be bad for dogs. It’s possible that consuming cat feces is bad for your dog and might cause illness or disease in your dog. Feces do, after all, contain potentially harmful bacteria and parasites.
Even if your cat does not present signs or symptoms of being afflicted by a parasitic infection, you would be misguided in assuming that their poop is uninfected.
It’s not just poop eating that can harm your dog, but the consumption of the litter in which it is found, especially clumping cat litter. Litter, when consumed in large quantities, can cause a blockage or digestive problems for your dog.
If you suspect that your dog is having bowel movement problems — i.e., if he is vomiting, seems to be having difficulty pooping, or has diarrhea —contact your vet immediately. In fact, you should always be vigilant about your dog’s digestive health, as dogs will eat almost anything.
Ultimately, however, eating kitty crap is not likely to cause severe health problems for your dog. That said, you should prioritize making your dog lose this habit.
Ways to Stop Your Dog from Eating Cat Poop
Now that we’ve established that your dog should quit cat poop consumption, you’re probably wondering how to bring this about. Here’s how to prevent your dog from eating cat poop, as it is bad for them.
Keep Your Dog Away from the Litter Box
So, in order to prevent your dog from consuming cat excrement, limit his or her access to the cat’s litter box. Put the litter box in such a place that your dog is unable to reach it.
You might also benefit from using a baby gate or some similar kind of barrier in order to stop your dog on the other side of your cat’s pooping space. Additionally, if you own both dogs and cats, don’t let your dog eat cat food generally, as this will increase their appetite for cat poop.
Invest in a Dog-Proof Litter Box
Another alternative to doing this is getting for your cat a “dog-proof” potty, i.e., one that comes with a closed top. These are meant to be harder for dogs to get into, but remember, dogs are highly intelligent creatures.
You know your pet better than anyone else, so you can determine whether this will be effective in keeping your dog out.
The above tips are all well and good if your cats are actually inside your home. What do you do if your cat-poop problem has an external source?
Make Sure Your Dogs Have Proper Nutrition
Dogs, just like humans and other animals, depend on proper nutrition and diet in order to be healthy. If your dog is eating cat waste, it might be a sign that your dog is suffering from malnutrition or a bad diet.
Although this doesn’t mean healthy dogs don’t eat poop, you might want to visit your vet if you want to confirm if this is the case.
If so, you should think about changing the food you give to your dogs. Thoroughly check the ingredients in your dog’s food. Additionally, it can be good to switch up your dog’s diet by adding healthy human foods.
Teach Your Dog to “Leave It”
Try training your dog to respond to the “leave it” command. Obviously, this only works for dogs who are obedient and well-trained. It will be particularly effective for puppies, and it will require you to be consistently vigilant.
Whenever you see your dog wandering towards your cat’s poop, tell him/her sharply to “leave it!” to illustrate that your dog cannot eat it.
But as with all training, this process is time-consuming and requires effort.
Schedule Regular Vet Visits
Perhaps you don’t have cats and dogs together in your home. Well, if you’re dealing with a neighborhood or stray cat’s excrement which your dog loves to eat, there’s unfortunately not much you can do except to confine your dog in the yard, so he/she can’t go outside.
This should not be considered an option to get your dog to stop eating cat poop; rather, if you suspect your pup has been consuming cat poop, you should make it a point to schedule regular trips to the vet to ensure there have been no adverse effects.
You can also consider investing in stool deterrents to prevent your dog from feeling appetized by cat poop. The next time you clean the litter box and refill it, add some deterrent.
This is a last-ditch effort for desperate situations where the dog is completely incapable of stopping cat poop consumption. Make sure to introduce the deterrent gradually; a sudden change in taste won’t help your dog in shaking the habit.
Having dogs as pets is one of the most rewarding experiences dog owners will have in their lifetime. But just like children, dogs often require concentrated care to ensure that they don’t partake in behaviors that can harm them or others.
All that said, getting your dog to quit consuming cat poop is not extremely difficult. Especially if you have a well-trained dog, you can usually just train him or her to stay away from the cat excrement.
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