Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop?
If you’re a dog parent, chances are you’ve had to see your dog eat poop a couple of times. It’s not pretty, especially when your dog favors cat poop. For first-time fur parents, this behavior is perplexing. Who, in their right state of mind, would want to eat poop?
Don’t worry! Your dog is not losing their mind. There are various reasons why your dog might be inclined to munch on cat poop. Understanding those reasons will help you break this behavior. After all, nothing good could ever come from eating poop.
The Science behind Why Dogs Eat Cat Poop
This may sound far-fetched, but the truth is dogs are scavengers by nature. And their scavenging often leads them to eat anything, and by anything, this includes compost, feces, and prey whether they are dead or alive. By nature, dogs are naturally attracted to strong smelling stuff. You could attest to how strong smelling cat poop is. Cat poop may smell disgusting to us humans, but to dogs, cat poop is a different story.
You may not notice it, but mother dogs usually eat their pups’ urine and feces while cleaning them. Mother dogs lick their pups’ bottom to stimulate bowel movement. Puppies are also more inclined to eating anything as they learn. Most puppies outgrow this behavior but if it continues well until adulthood, there could be another underlying reason. Boredom and attention-seeking also play a role in your dog’s poop-eating behavior. A dog could resort to eating cat poop to pass time or as a means to catch your attention.
Is Cat Poop Bad for Dogs?
Eating cat poop poses several health problems to dogs. Toxoplasmosis is a parasite infection that affects not only dogs but humans too. The only definitive carrier of this protozoan parasite is cats.
These parasites are present on the infected cat’s poop. Humans could get infected just by improper handling of cat poop. Dogs could get it if they ingest an infected poop. Older and healthier dogs can efficiently control the spread of this parasite in their body, making them immune. But puppies or dogs with weakened immune systems are more likely to be affected by generalized toxoplasmosis.
Symptoms include difficulty breathing, seizures, jaundice, fever, cough, muscle weakening, diarrhea, and in severe cases, even death. A veterinarian usually prescribes an antibiotic to treat the infection and an anticonvulsant to prevent the seizures. As toxoplasmosis is also harmful to humans, immediate attention is needed when you notice any of the symptoms in your dogs.
Are Dogs That Eat Cat Poop Malnourished?
Several studies also link malnutrition to the poop eating behavior of dogs. Although lacking in evidence, scientists found out that poop-eating dogs are usually deficient in vitamin B. The presence of parasites in the dogs’ intestine could also hinder the proper absorption of nutrients. Besides, Coprophagia is also a symptom of problems in the pancreas. The pancreas produces digestive enzymes that help the intestines absorb nutrients.
When the digestive enzymes are insufficient, dogs could resort to eating poop to take the unabsorbed nutrients. Medical issues could also trigger poop eating behavior in adult dogs. These illnesses could make your dog hungry and eat more than usual. Diabetes, Hyperthyroidism, and Cushing’s syndrome could increase an afflicted dog’s appetite.
In the absence of food, the dog would naturally eat anything just to satisfy their hunger, even poop. Another factor that could trigger poop eating is anxiety. Dogs tend to eat poop out of anxiety from getting punished.
How to Prevent Dogs from Eating Cat Poop
Whatever the reason is, your dog’s poop-eating behavior needs to stop immediately. The most efficient way to prevent this behavior is to limit your dog’s access to poop. A study in Colorado verified this finding. During walks, attach a muzzle to your dog. This way, even if your dog is sniffing around and finds poop, he won’t be able to ingest it.
Keeping your litter box out of your dogs’ reach is also another useful way to prevent poop eating. Move the litter box to someplace higher or to another room to keep your dog away from poop. Distracting your dog whenever he sees poop is also another good strategy. Reward your dog with treats whenever he ignores poop. If you find it difficult to prevent your dog from eating poop, it is best to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Have your dog checked if there is an underlying medical issue to the behavior and have it treated.
8 Ways to Stop Your Dog from Eating Cat Poop
Watching your dog eat poop is gross — plain and simple. The following suggestions could also help you curb your dog’s poop eating behavior:
Teach your dog the “Leave It” command
Train your dog when to leave or take food by command. Start training with treats on your palm. When your dogs learn this, you can progress the training to things on the floor. Remember to be firm, but be gentle with your training.
Keep your dog busy.
Keep your dog physically engaged to prevent him from eating poop. Make your regular walk more challenging by letting him jog instead of walk. A fun game of hide and seek is also effective in entertaining your pooch. Leave a trail of treats leading to your hiding place to keep your dog attentive to the game.
Use fences to keep your dog away from poop.
According to studies, the most effective way of preventing poop eating behavior is to keep poop away. Baby gates and indoor fences are proven effective in keeping dogs away from cat poop.
Clean the litter box ASAP.
Help your dog stay away from temptation by cleaning the litter box as soon as your cat finishes his business.
Get dog-proof litter boxes.
A change in the litter box could solve your dog’s poop-eating behavior. Try using a litter box with a cover. Concealed litter boxes are also trendy.
Buy Stool deterrents.
Stool deterrents are dog-safe products that you add to cat food to make the cats’ feces unappealing to dogs.
Add black pepper or hot sauce to the poop.
Provide proper nutrition.
Ask your veterinarian about proper nutrition for your dogs.
There could be various reasons why your dog loves to eat poop. No matter the reason, this behavior is harmful to dogs. It is your responsibility as the owner to stop this habit.