Do Dogs Eat Cat Litter
I do get asked quite a few questions on my cat hygiene website. One of the most popular is, “Do dogs eat cat litter and/or cat poop?” That may sound like a very strange question, but is really important for those homes who have a number of pets in them, especially a cat and a dog.
The quick answer is that dogs do not eat cat litter, but the bad news is that many dogs will eat cat poop that is sitting in a cat litter. In fact, and as disgusting as this may sound, most dog breeds actually consider cat poop to be a tasty snack. That is because cat poop contains rich nutrients, which we would clearly find disgusting as human beings, but that dogs simply love to digest.
Nature is indeed a strange and interesting topic to study, but it does explain many of the unusual and not so predictive animal behaviors. This is one of them, but like anything in nature, there is almost always a scientific reason behind this unusual behavior.
This behavior is called coprophagia and it is actually very difficult to get dogs to stop doing it.
I am not a huge fan of talking about poop of any kind, but this habit that dogs have, is a genuine concern for any dog owner. That is especially true for any home that has both cats and dogs in it. So although most dogs will eat cat poop it is something that you should try and prevent from happening.
Why do Dogs Like Cat Poop?
Generally speaking most dogs will eat cat food and more or less cat poop is just cat food that has been processed through the cat.
It seems unreasonable, even disgusting to humans that anyone or anything would want to eat poop of any kind. That is one of the clear distinctions between the human race and the animal kingdom. Animals generally behave in a way that is normal for them, but pretty alien to us.
What Makes A Dog Eat Cat Poop?
As I mentioned cat poop has some but not a lot of nutrients and that makes it instantly appealing to a dog. In addition to that if your dog is not regularly exercised, then it will get bored. When that happens dogs can actually do many strange things simply to make their existence more interesting.
Mainly though to a dog a cat poop is simply a tasty snack. If you have struggled to keep your dog away from a cat litter then you will know what I mean. Dogs can be very persistent when they want something, and this is a natural instinct in search of what they view to be a tasty nibble.
What Can Happen if a Dog Eats Cat Poop – Can they Get Sick or Die?
Generally speaking cat poop, like most animal waste contains a lot of bacteria and a strong possibility of parasites. You do not want either of these anywhere near your dog. Surprisingly though many dogs do eat cat poop with very little impact.
The good news is that dogs would have to eat a lot of cat poop before there are any major effects on it. The most common effects are blockages or the dog being physically sick. Blockages are actually caused by the cat litter that the poop has been sitting in, rather than by the actual cat poop.
That is especially true if the cat litter contains clumping cat litter. Special ingredients in clumping litters means that the litter swells when it comes into contact with moisture, and it is this process that will cause a blockage in the dog.
There is also a strong likelihood that it will make your dog’s breath really stink. Again that does not bother the dog at all, though as you can imagine, it will certainly bother the dog’s owner. The last thing you want is “Rover” breathing on your face or worse still, licking your face after they have been in the cat litter box.
Is It Normal for a Dog to Eat Cat Poop?
You will have guessed the answer by now and it is of course very normal for a dog to eat cat poop. To them it is a treat and if they get the opportunity, then they will treat this like a tasty snack. The dog works on a simple philosophy of waste nothing when it comes to food.
They will take any opportunity to snack. Cat food is mainly meat and if they smell any undigested, or partly digested food in cat poop, then they will want to eat it. Dogs are by nature scavengers and if they sniff food, then they will want to eat it.
Dog Eating Cat Poop Symptoms
The most common symptoms of a dog eating cat poop are that the dog gets a fever. In more extreme circumstances it can also result in seizures, muscle weakness, lack of coordination. The medium to longer term symptoms may be a loss in weight and that is associated with vomiting, diarrhoea and a general lethargic feeling.
In terms of level of severity, the only major health risk is from the fact that cat poop does contain toxic parasites. The main one to worry about is one called the T. gondii parasite and that parasite can cause toxoplasmosis. That is cancerous and if it goes untreated then that can be life threatening.
This is however thankfully quite rare and can only happen if the cat has picked up an infection from another animal. It is still a risk though and you should take steps to avoid it.
How to Stop Dog from Eating Cat Poop?
There are a number of methods to help you stop your dog from developing this habit.
- The simplest method is to keep the cat waste picked up on a regular basis. Daily or twice daily cleansing is highly recommended as that reduces the risk of your dog finding them in the first place.
- Using a top entry box is also a very good solution. Dogs can easily get into and out of a normal side opening or front opening cat litter box. They are just not so fond of getting in and out of a cat litter box that has a top opening. This solution is however only effective if your cat or cats are happy to use a top entry box.
- Placing the cat litter box in a location which the dog can’t get access to, but that your cat can. This is somewhere like on a shelf or in a room with a cat door or cat flap. Many cat and dog owners use baby gates for this exact reason
Those are a few suggestions on how to stop your dog eating cat poop, and keeping them out of the cat litter box.
One thing which is almost certainly not going to work is to try and train your dog not to head for the litter box. This search for snacks is a very instinct type of behavior, and dogs will continue to sniff out and search for snacks anywhere they can.