While it’s not especially pleasing to ponder, have you ever wondered: Why do dogs eat cat poop? Perhaps the more relevant question is, how can you prevent your dog from eating cat poop? At Litter-Robot, we have a few solutions for those pet households with both dogs and cats running around.
So, why do dogs eat cat poop?
There are a few theories as to why dogs eat cat poop. This nasty habit—scientifically referred to as coprophagia—is nevertheless somewhat normal in dogs. (Puppies are even more likely to “indulge.”) Here are a few reasons why:
- Dogs are scavengers: It’s your dog’s natural instinct to eat just about anything. Just look to their wild ancestors (wolves, coyotes, etc.), which experts say will eat the feces of other animals if they don’t consume enough prey or other food throughout the day.
- To dogs, cat poop may smell like cat food: As cats have a relatively short digestive tract, cat poop tends to contain undigested nutrients like protein. Therefore, to dogs, there may hardly be a difference in smell and taste from regular cat food.
- Nutritional deficiencies: Rarely, your dog’s coprophagia may be the result of certain dietary deficiencies. Check with your veterinarian for advice on adding additional protein, vitamins, fat, or fiber to your dog’s diet.
- Boredom or stress: In many cases, dogs eat cat poop simply because they’re bored. On the other hand, eating cat poop can be a form of “stress eating” for some dogs. Take into account whether your pup is getting enough physical activity and mental stimulation throughout the day.
- Certain medical conditions: According to PetMD, disorders like Cushing’s disease, intestinal malabsorption, or diabetes mellitus can make dogs “ravenously hungry. [They] will basically try to eat anything that has even the slightest resemblance to food.” Make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out any medical conditions behind your dog’s yucky “snacking.”
Can dogs get sick from eating cat poop?
In most cases, dogs will not get sick from eating cat poop. However, it is a real concern, as feces carry multitudes of bacteria and potentially harmful pathogens. For instance, we know from our zoonotic diseases post that cats can pass along bacterial infections like salmonella and campylobacter to both humans and dogs. Certain intestinal parasites can also transmit from consumed fecal matter.
Finally, cat litter itself can pose a risk to dogs. For instance, if a dog consumes a fair amount of clay clumping litter while snacking on cat poop, the litter can cause a harmful blockage.
How to prevent your dog from eating cat poop
Now that we’ve answered why do dogs eat cat poop, let’s take on the more important question: How do you prevent your dog from doing just that? There are two surefire ways to stop your dog from eating cat poop.
1. Make the cat poop disappear before your dog can get to it.
This isn’t always feasible if you have a traditional litter box: Chances are, you’re not sitting around waiting for your cat to use the litter box just so you can spring into action and clean it. What you need is a self-cleaning litter box like the Litter-Robot 3 Connect. The Litter-Robot has a patented sifting process that automatically separates your cat’s waste from the litter, depositing the clumps into a waste drawer for easy disposal.
The Litter-Robot timer countdown function really comes in handy for households with both dogs and cats. This is how it works: When your cat exits the Litter-Robot, a timer counts down, allowing the litter to clump before a clean cycle begins. You can set this timer to 3, 7, or 15 minutes.
Setting the Litter-Robot timer to 3 minutes effectively prevents most dogs from nosing out a “snack” in the litter box.
2. Make the litter box inaccessible to your dog.
If, however, your dog outsmarts the 3-minute timer (or you don’t have a self-cleaning litter box), your best bet is to make the litter box itself inaccessible to all canines in the house. This might include placing the litter box out of reach from your dog, in a spot only your cat can jump to. Or, you can use a baby gate to keep dogs out of the space without forcing your kitty to compromise.
You can also consider purchasing litter box furniture that will effectively hide the litter box and prevent access to dogs. For instance, this litter box credenza not only hides your Litter-Robot or traditional litter box, it also presents an attractive focal point for your living space.
Or you could try the practical litter box storage cabinet, whose optional hutch accessory doubles as a modern cat tree and offers further shelving space.
Why do dogs eat cat poop? While there are multiple reasons why dogs partake in this gross habit, we can all agree that there are some great ways to prevent it. Try a self-cleaning litter box and litter box furniture today!
Cover photo by Alexis Chloe on Unsplash