Dog logic: If it smells interesting, why not give it a taste test—even if it’s from the cat’s litter box!
Have you ever watched in bewilderment – and perhaps with disgust – as your beloved dog snacks on what the cat just left in the litter box? While this behaviour may turn our stomachs, for our dogs, it’s just another day.
Why do dogs eat poop?
There is a term for this behaviour called coprophagia. It’s a normal behaviour in dogs despite it being a disgusting habit to us humans. Here are a few reasons why they do it:
When a dog’s diet lacks essential nutrients, it might turn to cat faeces as a source to replenish what it’s missing. Owing to the higher protein and fat content in cat food, their faeces can appear nutritionally enticing to dogs.
Dogs are scavengers by nature. This is an instinct that can be traced back to their wolf ancestors who had to eat whatever they could find to survive. Eating faeces (coprophagia), can be part of this scavenging behaviour.
Surprisingly, some dogs may simply find the taste of cat faeces appealing. This could be because cats’ diets are richer than dogs’, leading to their faeces being more aromatic and palatable to dogs.
Boredom or Anxiety
Sometimes, dogs eat non-food items due to boredom, anxiety, or other behavioural issues. It’s a way of engaging their environment and seeking stimulation.
If a dog has learned that eating cat poop gets a reaction out of its owner, it might continue to do it for attention.
Dogs, particularly mothers of puppies, will clean up faeces in their den as a hygiene measure. While this behaviour may seem odd and even gross to humans, it is not unusual for dogs. Nonetheless, dogs consuming cat faeces pose health risks due to potential bacteria and parasites. As such, it’s essential to stop this behaviour, providing your dog with a balanced diet, plenty of stimulation, and a hygienic, secure environment.
How to stop a dog from eating cat poop
Keep the litter box out of reach
One of the simplest solutions is to place the cat’s litter box in an area where the dog cannot get to it. This could be in a room that’s gated off or high up where only the cat can reach. Some cat owners also use a covered litter box that allows the cat to get in but keeps the dog out (see below).
Clean the litter box regularly
A clean litter box is less likely to attract your dog’s attention. Make sure to scoop the box daily and change the litter regularly to reduce the chance of your dog eating the faeces.
Use positive reinforcement to train your dog to leave the cat litter alone. This could involve rewarding your dog for obeying the “leave it” command. Consult a professional dog trainer or behaviourist if needed.
No Poo Chews for Dogs, Peking Duck Flavour. Coprophagia Stool Eating Deterrent.
Provide mental and physical stimulation
Make sure that your dog has plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation. Sometimes, dogs indulge in this behaviour because they’re bored. Regular walks, playtime, and access to toys can help keep them entertained.
Use a door strap
Prevent your dog from going into the room where the cat’s litter tray is with this handy latch. It fixes to the door easily and be adjusted to let the cat in, but not the dog.
Door Buddy – This door latch will keep your dog (if slightly larger than the cat) out of the room where you keep your cat’s food and litter tray, while still allowing your cat to have easy access.
Get a dog-proof litter tray
This litter tray by Ferplast is dog-proof and weatherproof. There’s no way your dog will get its head in this! Your cat will soon get used to this design. There are top-entry cat litter trays available, but, dogs can still manage to stick their heads inside.
This style, being weatherproof is great for outdoor use, perfect for flat owners with limited space, as it can be placed on a balcony ensuring there is no mess or nasty smells in the flat.
While dogs eating cat poop can be an annoying habit, there are plenty of strategies to tackle this issue. By using some of the suggestions mentioned in this blog post, hopefully, you’ll be able to curb your dog’s unwanted behaviour.