Sometimes, our dogs do many things that we don’t understand. If dogs could talk, a question we’d have to ask them is, “why do dogs eat cat poop?” It might sound like a silly question, but it’s one that needs an answer!
Logically, poop does not look, taste, or smell good, so why would any dog want to put it in their mouth? There must be something that we’re missing when it comes to making sense of it all.
At Dope Dog, we’ve done the research and came up with some useful information to share with dog owners all around the world, so you’ll know why dogs eat cat poop.
The Science Behind Eating Poop
In all honesty, it’s not just cat poop; dogs love all kinds of poop. This is because they are scavengers by nature. With this type of instinct, they may eat things like carpet, rocks, garbage, and even cat poop.
We know that cat poop smells disgusting, but your dog sees it as a delicious meal. Since a lot of cat food appeals to the dog's smell and taste, it can also play a role as to why they love to snack from the litter box.
Eating poop is a disturbing habit call coprophagia that can result in a severe nutritional and dietary deficiency. According to the Merck veterinary manual, eating poop is part of the exploratory behavior, and many dogs are attracted to feces. As a matter of fact, mother dogs will eat the feces and urine of their puppies.
Reasons Dogs Eat Cat Poop
There are many reasons dogs eat cat poop, but if you catch your dog eating cat poop it is more likely from:
One of the most common reasons that dogs would eat cat feces is out of boredom. Dogs require a decent amount of mental and physical stimulation to keep them out of trouble. If your dog is left home alone for many hours, they will start to explore the litter box in hopes of finding something exciting.
If your dog is continuously bored, he or she may develop a poop-eating habit that could be hard to fix. Luckily, the right amount of exercise and plenty of toys at home can keep him or her busy, and hopefully make them forget a litter box is nearby.
If your dog is experiencing some severe vitamin deficiency of thiamine or vitamin B1, they will find a way to compensate for it. Some simple dietary deficiency could trigger your dog's habit to the point where they will search for cat poop and devour it.
Veterinarians often recommend a dietary change to resolve this behavior. They may advise adding fiber, fats, or protein to provide a dog with a healthy and balanced meal.
STRESS AND ANXIETY
Dogs are highly sensitive creatures, and a stressful environment can cause them to do something crazy just to alleviate the stress. If your dog experiences bouts of anxiety, they can develop a habit of coprophagia to reduce that anxiety.
The dog's ancestors (wolves) would often eat feces to fill up their appetite. This is especially true if they didn’t hunt enough prey to fill their stomachs. If your dog spent a considerable amount of time in the shelter or streets, they may be more likely to eat poop to ensure that they will not go hungry.
In fact, this can cause a dog to eat their own poop to fill up their stomach. This is very common for dogs who don’t know when and where their next meal will come from, so they would eat anything to prevent starvation, and that includes eating their own or other animal's poop.
Plus, if puppies witnessed their mom doing that, they will quickly follow by example and develop that poop-eating habit.
THEY FIND IT DELICIOUS
We may find cat poop to be disgusting, but a lot of dogs simply love the taste of it. The smell alone is what makes dogs go crazy near the litter box, and they can spend hours searching and eating cat poop. In fact, dog experts claim that their four-legged canine friend can't get enough of the “tasty treats”. It’s nauseating, but it’s the truth.
Related: 10 High Fiber Foods for Your Dog
To find out what else your precious pooch finds delicious, check out Dope Dog’s special selection of CBD Dog Treats. They’re yummy, and calming!
Is Eating Cat Poop Bad For Dogs?
If the cat poop contains salmonella or other parasites, it can be bad for your dog. Dogs can contract internal parasites and many types of infections from eating cat poop. Your cat may not show any signs or symptoms of the infection, but that doesn’t mean the microorganism isn’t hiding in the feces.
Another thing is that cat litter can be an issue for your dog if they eat a massive quantity of it. With vast amounts of cat litter and feces clumped together, it can block their digestive system. When this happens, your dog will experience severe abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.
If your dog has eaten an enormous amount of clumped up cat litter, then it’s essential to keep an eye on him or her. If you see that they have a regular bowel movement, then that means they’re OK.
If he or she has difficulty going to the bathroom, then it’s time to call your veterinarian. Usually, your dog will be safe from any potential health issues from eating cat poop if the cat is clean. However, if they continue to develop this habit, then it will only take one bad poop to ruin your dog's health.
Related: What to Give a Constipated Dog
How to Prevent Your Dog From Eating Cat Poop
If you are tired of seeing your dog eat cat poop, then here are some strategies to help you prevent this situation.
Hide the Litter Box
The important thing is to hide the litter box so only your cat can get to it. You can put a baby gate between the dog and the litter box. Or you can purchase a litter box that has a covering over it, and will only open if the cat needs to use it. There are several dog-proof litter boxes on the market.
You might have to install a cat door that only the cat can fit through. This is to prevent the dog from getting to the cat litter.
Add Black Pepper or Hot Sauce to the Litter Box
Dogs do not enjoy black pepper or hot sauce and generally avoid anything that smells or tastes like it. By placing black pepper or hot sauce around the litter box, your dog will avoid it.
Sometimes, dogs can eat poop out of boredom. When that happens, it’s essential to implement some physical and mental activity in their lives. You can start running and exercising with your dog to tire them out. After all, a tired dog does not have the energy to search for cat poop.
Another way is buying toys that can provide hours of mental stimulation. For example, a Kong is a popular chew toy where you can hide a dog treat inside the toy, and the dog will have to find ways to get to the treat. Because the treat is challenging to get out, the dog will spend hours with the toy.
ADD VARIETY TO THEIR DIET
Nutritional deficiency can be a common problem for your dog. This can cause them to search for feces to prevent starvation or fatigue. The best thing to do is to add variety to your dog's food. You can talk to your veterinarian regarding supplements that you can add to your dog’s food, so they get all the nutrients that they need.
Some dog owners provide a raw food diet that mimics what wolves and coyotes eat. After all, your domesticated canine friend originates from them, and a raw food diet may be a good idea to stop the poop-eating habit.
Dope Dog offers a variety of nutritious dog treats and food to supplement your dog’s health. Check out their full line of products.
Related: Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat?
SAY NO AND TEACH YOUR DOG TO LEAVE IT
If you see your dog sniffing around the litter box or eating cat poop, it’s important to say no and stop him or her immediately. You don’t want them to continue this disgusting habit because they can potentially get sick from it. With the proper training, your dog will understand that it’s wrong to eat cat feces and will stop immediately.
The best way to do this is to teach your dog the “Leave It” command. Then if you catch your dog sniffing at cat poop you can teach them to leave it where it is and not eat it.
Alleviate the Stress
If your dog is continuously stressed out, then that can stimulate a poop-eating behavior. The important thing is to find the root cause of the anxiety and to try to stop it. For example, if the anxiety stems from a lack of attention, then spend more time with your dog.
Dog owners need to recognize what is causing their dog's stress. If the issue is environmental changes such as new family members or moving to a new place, then it’s best to take your dog out for a walk or spend more time with him or her.
After all, dogs are highly sensitive animals, and they thrive very well in a peaceful and sociable environment. If, for some reason, your dog is still stressed despite all the tips and tricks that you have tried, you can buy some CBD treats to help calm his or her nerves.
Related: 10 Ways to Help Your Nervous Dog
What Happens if We Let Our Dog Eat Cat Poop?
If we continue to let our dog eat cat poop without stopping them, it can lead to some serious health issues. The first problem is that the cat poop could be contaminated with parasite eggs or bacterial infections, which can get into your dog's system and cause them to get sick.
Another issue is that if you have other pets around and they see your dog eating poop, they may pick up that bad habit. That means all your other animals in the house could end up eating poop. It’s like a "monkey see, monkey do" process.
When to See the Vet
If your dog only ate poop once, then you won’t have to see the vet. This could be a simple mistake and it’s best to stop him/her and say no. If you find that your dog is constantly eating cat poop or searching for it, then it’s time to see the vet. The vet will complete a physical exam and some blood work on your dog to find out what’s going on.
If they detected a nutritional deficiency, then the vet will likely recommend certain supplements or food for your dog's diet. The vet will also check your dog's feces to look for a potential bacterial or parasite infection in your dog.
If you notice abnormal symptoms from your dog such as:
- Abdominal pain
Definitely bring him or her to the vet. The veterinarian will need to check if this is an infection or a G.I. obstruction that will require immediate surgery.
Either way, it’s not fun to see your dog eat cat poop and the consequences that they may get from it, so it’s vital to stop them and find ways to prevent this from happening again.
Keeping Your Dog Entertained
Bored dogs will make their own fun. Usually, this won’t be something you approve of. If your dog is left to find their own fun, they may destroy things, chew on things, and, yes, even eat cat poop.
If this happens, it’s up to you to find ways to alleviate this boredom. While it may require some creativity, it’s not impossible. Start with the boredom-killing ideas here.
More Physical Exercise
If your pup is tired, they aren’t as likely to get in trouble while you aren’t home. Be sure your dog is getting plenty of physical exercises. The amount of exercise your pup needs depends on their breed, so speak to your vet if you aren’t sure.
A short, ten-minute stroll isn’t going to tire out most dogs. Because of this, you need to make sure you play a more vigorous exercise with your pup, including fetch or even playing with a flying disc. Try to keep things interesting for your pup by taking different routes every time you go for a walk.
Ensuring your dog’s brain gets a workout is just as important as physical exercise. It’s also good to tire them out. Before going to work for the day, try different interactive games that challenge their minds. You can play hide and seek or tug-of-war. Even scent games where you hide toys or treats around your house are great ways to alleviate boredom.
You can also freeze Kong toys with treats inside or add puzzle toys with treats for them to play with during the day. These activities will keep them busy and less likely to engage in destructive (or disgusting) behavior, like eating cat poop.
Train Your Dog
Training is not just necessary to teach a dog good manners. It is also a way for you to provide your dog much needed mental stimulation. While obedience is a great place to begin your training, don’t stop there. Why not teach your pup some tricks? There are more than a few behaviors you can teach, and you can match the skills to the dog’s abilities and interests.
You can also sign up for you and your pup to take a training class together. This will give your pup a chance to learn something new and socialize, which is good for all dogs. With a well-trained dog, you won’t have to worry about boredom and the potential consequences of them eating cat poop.
Keeping Your Pup from Being Bored
Unfortunately, not every time your pup eats cat poop is because they are bored. There are other reasons too, which are described here. Knowing what you can do to help keep them from doing this will pay off and help ensure they do not get sick from eating this.
Want another snack to keep your furry friend out of the litter box? Take a look at this article to find out why sweet potatoes may be your dogs new favorite food.
When we see anyone eating poop, we tend to get grossed out. This is especially true if we see our dogs eating something that comes out of another organism's butt. The science behind this behavior has a lot to do with their ancestors and instincts. Either way, it’s still foul behavior.
Usually, when dogs eat cat poop, they do it out of boredom, nutritional deficiency, stress or anxiety, and survival. Whatever the case is, it’s essential to find the underlying cause and treat it before it gets any worse.
You can provide the proper nutritional diet, stimulate them with the appropriate exercise and toys, and move the litter box as far away as possible with a gate to ensure your dog can’t get near it.
Now that we know why dogs eat cat poop, it’s important to remember to say “no” when you see them sniffing around the litter box, and say “yes” when they’re sniffing around for CBD dog treats. ;)