In this article I check out if cat litter is safe to use around dogs.
I many homes up and down the country cats and dogs live happily together.
That is not always the case, but there are a lot of families who like to own both a cat and a dog.
I have already written an article on is cat litter safe around other pets, and you can read that by clicking here.
You might find that article of interest, if you have other pets such as a hamster or a guinea pig.
However as dogs are a very popular choice for many homes, I wanted to do a more detailed article, about the use of cat litter when there are dogs in the home.
If are concerned that cat litter is dangerous for your dog, or that they may contact some disease from cat litter, then this article will leave you much better informed.
Do Dogs Really Eat Cat Poop & Cat Litter?
Vets have a name for dogs eating poop. It is called canine coprophagia.
The main reason that dogs eat cat poop is that it is packed full of protein. Now clearly this habit sounds disgusting to human beings, but to a dog it is viewed as a treat, or a tasty snack.
Why Dogs Eat Cat Poop?
There are a few reasons why dogs will eat cat feces and I have listed those below:
- Cats eat dog poop as this poop contains minerals and vitamins, they they don’t get from their own dog food. If you think about it a lot of cat food contains seafood, which is packed with minerals and vitamins.
- This eating habit also satisfy a dog’s instinct to scavenge. Dogs will instinctively dig around to find food and use their strong sense of smell to do this. To a dog, cat poop smells great!
- If a dog is either anxious or bored due to lack of stimulation, then it may turn to eating poop. In essence they don’t have anything else to do, and this will fill that void.
It is extremely difficult to stop a dog from eating cat poop.
By far the best way to avoid this is to make sure your dog does not have the opportunity to get tucked in. This is true when your dog is outside for a walk, or seeking out the cat litter in the home.
Is Cat Litter Toxic to Dogs?
Toxic of course means poisoning so a better way of expressing this is to ask will eating cat litter poison your dog?
Toxins are always caused by bacteria, and cat litter on its own does not contain any harmful bacteria.
It is only when there is cat waste present, that the risk of poisonous bacteria, is of course always present. So the real risk is from your dog eating and digesting cat poop.
It is the poop and urine that is toxic, and as such will contain toxic parasites. The main issue with that is that cat feces contains the T. gondii parasite. That particular parasite causes toxoplasmosis.
In addition to this if your cat has any form of parasite, and your dog eats that feces, then almost inevitably your dog will end up getting worms, which will need to be treated.
Cat Litters & Chemicals
Now if the poop isn’t bad enough, then many cat litters also have chemicals in them.
It is also inevitable that when eating cat stools, that dogs will also digest some amount of cat litter.
As well as the chemicals, the big percentage of cat litter sold is made from what is called a clumping clay. That is a substance that swells or clumps when moisture lands on it.
In a cat litter the cat urinates and the clay then clumps up, making it easy to remove from the litter box.
However this litter if ingested and eaten, can also swell up inside your dog, and cause severe blockages in the intestines. That can ultimately kill the dog.
Can A Dog Die From Eating Cat Poop?
The quick answer to this is yes, that is possible.
More often though it will cause fever, weight loss, diarrhea and a general feeling of lethargy. The good news is that this can be treated with a course of antibiotics, and the dog will recover from this ailment.
How Do You Stop a Dog From Eating Cat Poop and Cat Litter
Prevention is always better than cure.
The good news is there are a number of simple things that we can do, to prevent the dog from eating cat poop in the first place.
Regular Cleaning of the Litter Box
The simplest way to stop this from happening is to regularly clean the cat litter box.
Now I do appreciate that you can not always be there waiting on your cat to do its business.
That said, if you can manage to check and clean the litter box twice a day, then you do reduce the risk considerably.
Litter Box Location
Ideally if you can locate the litter box to a space where your cat get into it, and your dog can’t is an ideal location.
That could be a room with a cat flap entrance, or one that has a baby gate. It is not an ideal solution though as dogs can be quite determined if they really want something.
Litter Box Type
There are quite a number of different types of litter boxes available on the market place. These range from a basic tray option and all the way through to a self-flushing litter box.
The most popular are called hooded, enclosed or covered litter boxes.
Avoid litter pans or trays that are left open. That is just like serving cat poop on a dining table for your dog. A cat litter box with a small entrance lid is a good option, though you have to be aware that a dog may still try and stick their head inside that, and could easily get stuck.
Automatic self cleaning litter boxes are the very best option. These litter boxes self clean once the cat has done its business and left the box.
They rotate automatically, and remove the poop and any clumped litter to the lower part of the box, and out of the dog’s reach.
If you have a pup or a younger dog, there is a decent chance that you will be able to train it by command.
Teaching your dog by a simple no command will work, as long as your dog is at a stage where it can still be trained.
Just be aware that this may not always work, but certainly worth a try.
Cat Food Additives
There are certain cat food additives that you can buy.
These can be added to your cat’s food and these additives then effect the cat feces. Dogs do not like these additives and as such will not eat the poop.
The reviews on these from real life buyers are very mixed.
Some buyers said they worked for them and just as many said they don’t.
I don’t like the idea of adding any type of artificial chemicals to my cat’s food, and prefer to use a self cleaning automatic litter box which is highly effective.