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Wellness

Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop?

If you have both a cat and dog living in your household, you may have caught your canine in the act of eating your feline’s fecal matter. While this might seem gross, it’s actually a rather common behavior for dogs to exhibit.

That brings us to our next question: Why does this happen? If you have questions, which is very understandable, Pawp has answers for you. That’s why today Pawp’s team is going to answer the question: why does my dog eat my cat’s poop

Pawp will discuss if this behavior, while gross, is also harmful to your pet. After that, the article will run through several ways that you can make your dog stop eating cat feces for good. Get ready to become well-versed in this dirty topic because you’re about to learn everything you need to know. 

Why is my dog eating feline fecal matter?

If your dog is eating cat poop, there could be several reasons why this behavior is occurring. When you get down to it, a lot of dogs will eat all kinds of poop. While this is gross to think about, this behavior is natural for canines. Your dog is a scavenger, and their willingness to eat feces demonstrates this.

Poop isn’t the only thing that your dog will willingly dig into. Dogs often also try to consume garbage, rocks, grass, or even carpet. Your canine friend just thinks of cat poop like one of these: another item that they can scavenge and then eat. 

To humans, cat poop looks and smells repulsive. For your dog, it has a very different appeal. To a dog, cat poop likely smells like cat food. Cat food does appeal to a canine’s natural sense of smell, and a lot of dogs enjoy consuming it. This is just one reason why you might find your dog with their head in the litter box snacking on cat feces. 

Of course, this habit also begs the question: Could something be wrong with my pet? The habit of eating feces is referred to as coprophagia, and yes, it can be the result of your pet having a deficiency in their diet. However, this isn’t often the case. Most of the time, this habit is simply the result of your dog exploring their surroundings and sniffing out something that smells (to them) like it could be a snack.

Of course, if you’re noticing that your dog is in the habit of consuming your cat’s poop, you might want to look into it — or at least reach out to a trusted veterinarian. They could provide you with more insight as to what’s going on.

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That being said, rest assured that the majority of the time, eating cat poop is simply an exploratory behavior — nothing more, nothing less. Another reason why this might be happening is that it is considered to be normal maternal behavior for dogs to consume the poop and urine of young puppies.

While it is certainly disgusting, there are ways that you can tackle making sure that this doesn’t happen anymore.

Is eating cat poop dangerous for dogs?

You might be wondering if the consumption of cat feces is actually dangerous for your dog. The answer is a little complicated because the truth is that it can be. Many dogs eat cat fecal matter and are just fine, but there’s always a risk. 

Eating any type of poop carries with it the potential that your dog will contract harmful parasites or bacteria that the poop contains. Some of these bacteria strains, such as salmonella, can even get transmitted to you, their human owner. 

In addition to this, your dog could even contract different species of internal parasites from eating your cat’s feces. Even if your cat isn’t showing symptoms of a parasite infection, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t one present.

This is one major reason why it’s important for you to intervene if you see your dog eating cat feces. If you notice that they got a hold of some, keep an eye on them and monitor for any changes in behavior. 

There’s yet another reason why eating cat poop can prove to be dangerous for dogs. This is because cat litter can be problematic for your canine companion — when it’s consumed in large quantities, namely. 

Of course, if your dog has just a few pieces of cat litter, they will likely be fine. They’d have to ingest quite a lot before they were at risk for a blockage. Still, your best bet is to simply make sure that your dog isn’t eating a lot of litter. 

In the event that your dog has consumed cat litter or clumping cat litter, you should monitor the situation. If their bowel movements are routine and normal, then they’re likely OK. If they seem like they’re having a difficult time passing movements, if they don’t poop, or if their poop is abnormal in any way, you should contact a veterinarian.

For the most part, however, eating cat poop won’t interfere with your dog’s health. There is always the chance that it could, though, and that’s why you should ensure that your dog doesn’t. Making your dog stop could seem difficult or even downright impossible, but with some effort and hard work, it’s quite possible. 

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How to get your dog to stop eating cat poop

So you want your dog to stop eating cat poop. That’s understandable; it’s gross, stinky, and the thought of your dog licking you moments after having feces in their mouth is unpleasant, to say the least. Well, luckily, there are ways that you can help your dog stop eating cat poop for good. 

The first recommendation is certainly the easiest one. You can simply place your cat’s litter box in a location where your dog is unable to access it. This could mean in a room you never let your dog in, but your cat is allowed access to. Another option is to get a baby gate. 

Baby gates are excellent at keeping your dog in only their part of your home. At the same time, your cat, which is able to jump, can get over them. Shop around to find one at the right price point and height for you. 

These will help give your cat a place of their own and can also help ensure that feline poop is no longer your canine’s favorite midnight snack. Doors with a cut-out at the bottom for a cat are also quite useful. 

If a baby gate or isolating the litter box is impossible, here’s another suggestion: you can get a little box that features a closed top. These so-called “dog-proof” litter boxes mean that your pooch will have a much more difficult time getting a hold of the poop.

In the event that you find your dog eating cat fecal matter, you can use a “drop it” command to ensure that they do not digest the poop. This is most effective if you’re able to keep an eye on your dog when they might be sneaking away for a little “treat.” 

There’s also a preventative measure that you can take. Once you notice that your cat has gone to the bathroom in their litter box, you can simply scoop the poop out. If there’s nothing for your dog to eat, then there’s no problem. This is only effective if you have the time to monitor the litter box and clean it up routinely. 

For example, perhaps your dog is eating cat poop while you’re on a walk, or it’s otherwise out of your control. If cats in your neighborhood are defecating in your yard or on the sidewalk in front of your home, it can prove difficult to stop your dog from eating the poop. 

In this situation, you should be sure to contact your vet for a checkup after they’ve consumed the feces. This is to make sure that your pet has not contracted internal parasites as a result of eating the poop.

Lastly, if you fear that the reason why your dog is eating poop is due to a lack of dietary nutrition, you can invest in better food. This will help ensure that your dog is getting what they need from their food and won’t stoop to eating cat feces to get additional nutrients. Talk to your vet about possible changes to your dog’s diet. 

An unfortunate habit that can be fixed

Ultimately, Dr. Laura Robinson, a Pawp veterinarian, tells dog owners, “If you have noticed your dog eating cat feces, you should monitor for signs of inappetence, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy. Dogs can pick up parasites, bacteria, and viruses from cat feces.”

If you notice these signs, Dr. Robinson recommends taking your dog to the vet for tests and analysis. She also says that “It can take up to a month for an infection to develop, so continue to monitor until then.”

It can be gross to find out that your dog is eating cat poop. Luckily, once you get to the bottom of why it’s happening, you can tackle how to fix it. Hopefully, this article provided you with the resources to do exactly that.

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DOG EATING CAT POOP SOURCES: 

The paradox of canine conspecific coprophagy | NCBI

Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop? How to Stop A Dog From Eating Cat Poop? | AKC 

Can Dogs Eat Cat Food? | AKC

Why Do Mom Dogs Eat Their Puppies’ Poop? Survival Instincts! | Dogdorable

How to Teach Your Dog to Drop It | AKC

Dogs That Eat Cat Poop | PetMD 

Internal Parasites in Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital 

Dog Ate Clumping Cat Litter - Vet's Advice On Dog that Ate Clumping Litter | Pet Place 

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