Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop
Dogs seem to have an affinity for finding, eating and enjoying cat poop. While this will never make logical sense to you, there are some reasons why dogs eat cat poop based on health or behavioral issues. If you are concerned about your pooch eating cat feces out of the litter box or while out and about, identify the reason so that you can create the solution.
Some dogs seem to just have a nose for this, going on a walk and out of nowhere finding a new source of cat poop. Stop wondering, “why do dogs eat cat poop,” and take a proactive approach. If it isn’t a medical condition leading to the cat poo craving, you can deal with the issue with dog training. As with most dog behavioral issues, the earlier you start the process and the more consistent you are with training, the more effective the solution will be.
Is Cat Poop Dangerous for My Dog
In most cases, dogs eating cat poop will not have any negative health effects from doing so. However, if they eat cat feces from the litter box, they may ingest kitty litter that can lead to a blockage in the intestines. In rare cases, dogs can contract internal parasites from cat poop even when household cats don’t demonstrate any signs of infection. As a dog owner, you might be less inclined to accept a bath of slobbery dog kisses making it a top priority to stop the behavior.
Although most situations of dogs eating cat feces are benign, keep in mind that poop is poop and often attracts flies, bugs, and icky parasites. Ill cats may increase the chance of your dog getting sick. Even if your dog doesn’t get sick, he may pass something to his human pals through contact. You could avoid the kisses, but what happens if he licks his paw and then gives you five. All in all, stopping the cat poop eating habit is a must for dog owners.
Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop
The three primary reasons that dogs will seek out and eat cat poop: a nutritional deficiency, taste, and boredom. To figure out which of the three is the underlying problem, start with a visit to your veterinarian.
Puppies actually start eating their own poop when in the litter. Mom has an instinct to eat her puppies’ poop to help keep the den clean and to prevent predators from sniffing the litter out. Even domesticated dogs have this trait, so you will want to start early to remove the urge of any feces consumption by your dogs.
Since one of the reasons many dogs eat cat poop has to do with medical issues and dietary deficiencies regardless of what happened in the litter, you’ll want to schedule a visit with your veterinarian. This visit will identify any health issues such as worms, digestive enzyme issues, or medications that could lead to dietary imbalances.
Poop Eating: Coprophagia
Stool eating is known as coprophagia or coprophagy. While it defines the act, it doesn’t identify the cause. However, this practice of stool eating goes back to their scavengers traits of canines that ate any feces when there were no other readily available food sources. To this day, wolves and coyotes will still consume poop in order to supplement their diets.
Stool eating is normally something that puppies outgrow with proper training and diet. The timeframe for this is usually when mom weans them from her milk and the puppies begin to eat solid dog food. Making sure they eat often and vitamin-rich food helps the weaning process go smoothly.
Nutritional Deficiencies and Eating Cat Poop
When eating feces (including cat poop) is the result of a health issue, it often has to do with the body not absorbing vitamins and minerals properly. One common cause is exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. This condition comes with symptoms of loose stool, foul-smelling feces, and unexplained weight loss. The veterinarian will conduct a blood panel to determine if medication or a dietary change will help alleviate the problem.
Some medical conditions that use steroids or have extreme dietary restriction also reduce your dog’s ability to properly absorb nutrients. Diabetes, Cushing’s disease, and thyroid issues are the most common culprits. Dietary restrictions may also leave your dog hungry, thus looking for food to satiate his hunger pangs. Supplements, changes in medication, or new foods often help alleviate the cat poop eating in these types of cases.
Intestinal Parasites and Worms
Not only can your dog get intestinal parasites from eating cat poop, but this will increase their desire to eat the cat poop. The parasites steal the nutrients from your dog leaving him to want to eat more, be lethargic, and even lose weight. That’s right; he can eat more and lose weight without increasing activity.
If you suspect your dog has been exposed to worms or may have an intestinal parasite infection, seek veterinarian care immediately. Most parasites are easily addressed with medication and supplements can be provided to help your dog get his right nutritional needs met and gain some of the weight back. The sooner you nip this issue in the bud, the less likely a diet craving will become a habit.
Lack of Mental Stimuli and Boredom
Dogs are naturally curious and will find trouble when they aren’t properly stimulated. Providing your dog with ample mental stimulation and exercise helps him get his energy out and reduce his need to investigate everything. This extends to the cat litter box where he may innocently go to investigate smells and realize there are little treats waiting for him.
Dogs and Stress
Similar to being bored, stressed dogs develop behavioral problems. Stress could be in the form of moving to a new home, getting adopted by a family, or having a new puppy or kitten join the pack. Pay attention to your dog’s anxiety. If he has never been a cat poop eater and suddenly starts when the family dynamic changes, this is the sign that he is reacting to household stresses.
The earlier you can address the stress and adapt to a new household and behavioral solutions, the easier it will be to stop the stress habit from becoming a long-term bad habit. Baby gates are great to prevent your dog from accessing the litter box, but they are also great to set home boundaries. Use this tool when a new puppy or even a baby are brought into the home. Your dog will appreciate having his own space.
What to Do To Stop Dogs Eating Cat Poop
Cat poop in the home should be an easily controlled issue. If your dog is eating cat poop from a litter box, this is often a dog owner’s fault. Limiting access to rooms where the cat litter box is the easiest way to reduce and eliminate your dogs taste for cat poo. A baby gate or small cat door that your dog can’t fit in is a simple solution that lets cats have their space to go into the litter box while your dog no longer has access.
If your dog is eating cat poop on walks or in the yard, you’ll need to be very proactive about the issue. Walking dogs on a leash help you control them and redirect them. In the yard, limiting the areas where cats may poop limits the opportunities your dog will have to eat cat feces.
Consider Dietary Supplements
If your dog is eating cat poop because he is missing something in his diet, it’s time to change his diet or add something to the mix. Start with his dog food to make sure his food is full of the nutrients that he needs. Pups, in particular, will have issues if they are eating adult dog food rather than puppy formula. If after changing the diet to more hearty food, ask your vet if a digestive enzymes supplement is a good option for your dog.
Dogs that don’t break down minerals properly can’t absorb them. By taking a digestive enzymes supplement, many dogs are able to better metabolize the food they consume and reduce the desire to eat cat feces. A dog’s diet may also include some human, foods that help to improve digestion and enzyme breakdown.
Meat Tenderizers for Dog’s Diet
Many behaviorists and dog experts suggest using meat tenderizers to help dogs break down the proteins in the dog’s diet. By sprinkling a little on their dog food, dogs are able to get more nutrition from the same dog food quantities. This helps keep weight down and improve energy levels while dealing with the dog behavioral issue of eating cat poop.
Pineapple for a Dog’s Diet
Pineapple is a safe fruit for a pet to eat that is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The fiber helps keep dogs stool regular and all digestive tracts moving smoothly. Dogs like the taste of pineapple and will readily eat it. Do be careful about giving dogs too much pineapple because it is high in sugar and can lead to issues with diabetes or obesity.
This fruit is thought to help dogs reduce the craving of eating cat poop. The reason pineapple is recommended for poop eating is because it contains bromelain, a proteolytic enzyme that helps break down proteins. If the dog is eating poop due to an enzyme deficiency, pineapple in moderation can help based on anecdotal evidence. If the issue is a behavioral issue, don’t expect feeding your dog pineapple to do much of anything to solve the problem.
Making Feed Time Habits
Humans may lose track of time when it comes to meals, but dogs are very much driven by an internal clock of hunger. If you are not feeding your dog at a regularly set time or feeding him enough, he will get hungry and seek out something to satisfy his craving. Puppies eat two to three times a day as their body builds bones and muscle while adult dogs eat one to two times a day.
Be consistent with meals so your pet can rely on the schedule. If you have an erratic work schedule, invest in an automatic feeder. This helps especially if your dog has a dog door with outside access and will look for places where cats, deer, or chickens have pooped. When feeding time is habitual, your dog’s own poop habits become more routine as well. This curbs his desire to eat his own poop as well as cat poop.
Eliminate Pet Boredom
Every dog trainer will tell you that boredom is the single biggest reason dogs find trouble. Dogs are curious canines. If you are not giving your dog enough exercise or the right type of mental stimulation, he will find trouble. This might be in the form of tearing up your sofa, getting int the trash or gnawing on your favorite shoes.
It also leads to finding and consuming cat poop. While this behavior may start with boredom it could develop into an unwanted habit. You may adjust the mental stimulation but if your dog has developed the habit of eating poop, you’ll have more work to do.
Clean Up After Your Dog and Cat
Keeping everything clean is the best way to stop your dog from eating dog and cat poop. This means regularly cleaning out the litter box and picking up feces found in and around the house immediately. The less temptation there simply means you have eliminated more instances of your dog eating cat poop.
If you have a problem with your cat (or neighborhood cats) defecating in your backyard where your dog plays, think about covering sandboxes, planting lavender or thyme to deter cats, or reduce the number of areas a cat can dig. Adjust the landscape to reduce the chance of your dog getting into cat poop you didn’t know was there.
There are also cat sprays and repellents that are designed to keep cats from certain areas such as flower beds. Read the labels of these to make sure your dog won’t be harmed if he somehow consumer the repellant off the plants in the area.
Leashes: A Good Walking Habit
Walking your dog on a leash is a good habit for many reasons. Animal behaviorists and dog trainers always talk about how you can control the dog better when they are on-lead. It helps with training for things like heeling and recall. It also helps in changing behaviors issues such as dogs eating cat poop on walks.
Many dogs, especially canines with exceptional noses, tend to find cat poop where dog owners don’t think of looking. In a split second, a crafty pooch can have a mouthful of cat poop leaving dog owners desperately trying to get it out without touching it. The habit of walking your dog on a leash gives you control over how far away from the path he will go.
If your dog starts to zero-in on something he smells, then gently pull on the leash and redirect him. Tons of positive reinforcement and consistency teach your dog that staying on track is rewarding. This helps with more than just dogs eating cat poop; it can prevent snake bites, poison ingestion, and a million other accidents that happen daily on walks and hikes.
CBD Oil Dog Treats
There is a new trend of supplements for dogs that uses CBD oils. There is still a lot of research to be done on the various benefits and potential dangers of using CBD oil treats and supplements for dogs although some anecdotal evidence suggests that it can help with the absorption of minerals to reduce dogs desire to eat cat poop.
Before starting a CBD oil treat plan for your dog, check with your veterinarian. You’ll want to research the right dosage and be sure that the CBD oil has no THC. While humans can metabolize this, dogs can’t. Do your research before you add anything new and virtually untested to your dog’s diet. While cannabis has been around for centuries as a medicinal plant, take the time to understand its full effects and side effects before jumping in.
Check In With Your Dog Trainer
Animal behaviorists know that good training starts young and has results that last when consistency is maintained. Even dog with some medical conditions that would have them inclined to eat cat poop is known to lessen or stop the habit. If a litter box is a culprit, make sure to use baby gates and keep dogs away from the temptation.
Meet with your vet to confirm that your dog is healthy and then set an appointment with a dog trainer. Dog trainers help evaluate the situation, assist with home layout remedies, and provide you with the training tools to stop your dog from eating cat poo. The longer the habit has been in place, the harder it is to remedy it; this is true for all dog behavioral training and eating cat poop is no different. Make it a point to deal with this immediately.
Kimberlee Leonard is a certified pet first aid and CPR instructor. Her company, Safer Family Pets helps families prepared for worst-case scenarios including evacuations during natural disasters. She enjoys time with her beagle mix, Arky who enjoys “sit-walks” where he sits more than walks, enjoying the fresh mountain air.