Why do dogs eat cat poop? You’re not alone in asking that question. Many dog owners, at some point, witnessed their lovable fur babies eat cat poop. It could be during walks, or it might be their own cat’s poop that the dog’s snacking on.
But really, why? Why eat cat poop when you’re feeding them delicious, nutritious dog food? What’s in the cat poop that makes dogs willing to overlook the fact that they’re munching on someone else’s excrement? Is there something wrong with your dog? Will it get sick from eating poop? And more importantly, can you ever stop this behavior? Let’s take a look and answer all your questions!
The Science Behind Why Dogs Eat Cat Poop
You must’ve seen your dogs with their nose on the ground sniffing about while walking. Dogs, by nature, are scavengers. This is among the traits they inherited from their wolf ancestors. While this scavenging behavior may seem harmless at first, consuming too much of a harmful substance can be dangerous.
Dogs are also inherently attracted to anything that has a strong scent. These two behaviors are the main reason why your dog is eating cat poop. To dogs, a cat’s poop is just another thing that they could eat to survive. This may sound gross or disgusting to us. But keep in mind that dogs interpret things differently.
Dogs’ brains probably recognize and identify the smell not as something disgusting but as food — cat food, specifically. Their brain doesn’t understand the possible consequences of eating poop. In their mind, the action is as simple as “They see food, they eat food.”
Is Cat Poop Bad For Dogs?
Now that we understand why dogs eat cat poop, the next thing to do is ascertain if cat poop poses problems for our dogs. The cat’s anatomy provides them with a short digestive tract. So their poop might still contain undigested nutrients. You may think this is potentially a good source of nutrients for canines, but dogs could get internal parasites.
Cats are the only definitive host of a protozoan parasite that is harmful not only to dogs but to other warm-blooded animals, including humans. Transmission of these parasites occurs upon ingestion of cysts usually found in infected cat’s feces. Healthy adult dogs are generally unaffected by this infection, but it is severely harmful to puppies. For dogs with a weaker immune system, symptoms include:
- Eye swelling
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty breathing or coughing
Are Dogs That Eat Cat Poop Malnourished?
Although there’s not much evidence, malnutrition plays a role in why a dog would eat cat poop. This is especially true if the dog is being fed a well-balanced diet. Dog food with low protein content but is high in preservatives and grains may lead to a poor diet. Inconsistent feeding times can make the dog hungry, especially if the interval between meals is long.
You should also note the amount of food you give. If you underfeed them, they’ll be hungry more often. Simply put, a hungry dog would eat anything just to satisfy itself. Also, certain medical problems could initiate poop eating in dogs. Cushing’s disease, thyroid problems, and diabetes are among the diseases that make dogs ravenous.
Certain steroid medications often leave dogs very hungry or thirsty. Intestinal parasites make the dog feel hungry even while eating. They can also lessen the number of nutrients being digested by the dogs’ bodies.
How to Stop a Dog from Eating Cat Poop
Poop eating is a dog behavior that needs to be stopped immediately. If your dog ate poop, the first thing you should do is to visit a veterinarian to have him examined. With this, you can determine the cause and the health effects of this behavior. The veterinarian may take blood tests and fecal tests to determine whether your dog has underlying medical problems or parasitic infection.
If the cause of the poop eating is due to illnesses, the veterinarian will know the proper way to address the issue. In the case of a parasitic infection, the veterinarian can advise you on how to properly deworm your dog and inform you of possible side effects.
8 Ways To Stop Your Dog From Eating Cat Poop
If your dog is eating cat poop out of habit, try the following steps to stop it:
1) Train your dog to leave poop alone
Like any training, you need to be firm yet gentle with your dog. Your pooch may not understand what you’re saying, but it will understand the command through your words. If you see your pet wandering around the litter box, call by saying, “Leave it.” Repeat the command in a louder voice until your dog heeds you. Don’t forget to reward and praise them for following your command.
2) Keep your dog busy
Your dog could be eating poop because of boredom or plain curiosity. Keep its mind preoccupied with safer alternatives through activities and games. Allow it to run whenever you go out for a walk. You could also bring a Frisbee and play with your pup. Hide and seek is also a game that stimulates not only a dog’s body but also its mind.
3) Use fences to keep your dog away from poop
Installing baby gates or indoor fences around the cat’s litter box can help your dog battle the temptation to snack on poop.
4) Clean the litter box ASAP
As soon as your cat is done pooping, clean the litter box. This is one sure way to ensure that your dogs won’t eat cat poop.
5) Opt for dog-proof litter boxes
A litter box with a cover or a top entry litter box can keep your dog away from eating cat poop. Furniture like an end table or cabinets can also conceal litter boxes.
6) Buy stool deterrents
Cat poop eating is a major problem for dog parents. That’s why there are certain products developed to address this issue. Stool deterrents are added to a cat’s food to make their poop foul-tasting to dogs.
7) Add black pepper or hot sauce to the poop
If stool deterrents are unavailable, you could try other ways to make the poop unpleasant for dogs. Sprinkling the feces with black pepper may keep your dog away from the poop.
8) Provide proper nutrition
Make sure to give your dog a balanced diet and beneficial treats. Keep feeding time consistent and filling.
Regardless of the reason, eating cat poop is not healthy for dogs. At the first sign of this action, we as fur parents should break this habit immediately. We hope these tips will help you and your canine companion. After all, a healthy dog is a happy dog!