Coprophagia is a habit in which a dog will eat poop. It can be dog poop, cats poop, or poop from anyone else. Why do some dogs eat cat poop? This is going to be the main topic for today. We will give you specific answers, and we are going to tell you what you can do. Sadly, this habit is more common than we would like to see, and many dog owners do need help. If you are one of them, you are on the right page.
Reasons Why Dogs Will Eat Cat Poop
The main thing to understand is that this is normal behavior. It is not strange or extremely problematic. Why do some dogs eat cat poop? Well, dogs are scavengers, and they will eat almost anything they can. This is something they had to do while living in the wild. Today they live in our homes, so there is no need to do this, but it is in their blood, and it is stronger than you may think.
The main reason why dogs eat cat poop is that it smells like cat food. All dogs love cat food, and they will always eat it without questions asked. Cat poop has a similar smell to the food, so they will like it as well. Another reason they will eat cat poop is due to a dietary deficiency. It means that your dog needs specific nutrients that are not present in his diet, and he will eat poop so he can obtain those nutrients. It is a rare reason, but it is a valid one.
An interesting fact is that normal maternal behaviour involves eating the poop of the puppies. All female dogs do this when they have small puppies, and you don’t have to worry about them. This is another trait they had while living in the wild.
The Instinctive Behavior of Dogs
Dogs, known for their keen sense of smell and curious natures, often display behaviors that are both perplexing and disconcerting to their owners. One such behavior is the consumption of cat feces, a practice rooted in their instinctive behaviors. Coprophagia, or the act of eating feces, isn’t uncommon among various animal species, including dogs. Though it can be alarming for pet owners, understanding the instinctual basis of this action can provide clarity and facilitate appropriate responses.
Historically, dogs are scavengers. In the wild, their ancestors would forage for any available food resources to survive. This scavenging behavior is encoded in the dog’s DNA and can explain why modern domesticated dogs still sometimes eat things that are not necessarily considered food, including cat poop. Additionally, dogs have an advanced sense of smell, allowing them to detect and be attracted to the strong odor of cat feces, which contains remnants of cat food, typically higher in protein and fats.
The act of eating feces can also be traced back to the dog’s pack mentality. In a pack setting, lower-ranking dogs would often consume the feces of higher-ranking dogs as a submissive behavior. Additionally, mother dogs naturally clean up after their puppies by eating their feces to keep the den clean and free of odors that might attract predators.
In conclusion, while the action of a dog eating cat poop can be unsettling for pet owners, it’s rooted in the dog’s instinctive behavior, driven by their scavenging nature, advanced sense of smell, and ancestral pack mentality. Addressing this behavior requires a mix of understanding, training, and sometimes, veterinary assistance to ensure that it doesn’t result in health issues.
Cat Poop Can Be Dangerous For Dogs
Many of you believe that there is no risk at all to a dog eating cat poop. Others believe that it is an extremely severe issue and that countless health-related problems will appear. The reality is somewhere in between.
Eating cat poop sounds gross, but usually it is not a problem. A dog will digest the needed nutrients and remove the waste. But, cat poop can contain certain parasites and bacteria that will come in contact with the dog’s stomach.
They can infect him and cause all sorts of issues. The most common example would be salmonella, which can also be transmitted to people. All kinds of other bacteria can be found in cat poop, so the risk is there. Try to remember that just because your cat doesn’t have any symptoms or issues doesn’t mean the poop is safe for a dog to eat. It is still possible that bacteria and parasites are present in the poop.
Cat Litter Is Another Issue
If digested in massive amounts, it can cause blockage in the dog’s intestine. A good thing is that your dog would have to eat a lot of litter, which is not something that usually happens. But the risk is once again present. If the blockage is present, your dog will have a hard time pooping, and he will be sad. He will be upset as well, and you will have to take him to the vet. Even if his poop is abnormal and you know he ate cat poop, you need to take him to the vet!
Regardless of how this sounds, cat poop is not very bad for dogs, and almost all of them will be perfectly fine. However, it is something most dog owners don’t like, and it still carries a certain amount of risk. That’s why you need to read the next section.
Preventing dogs from eating cat poop involves a combination of management strategies, training, and environmental modifications. Here are some steps pet owners can take to curb this undesirable behavior:
Maintain a Clean Environment
Regularly clean the cat’s litter box to eliminate the opportunity for your dog to engage in this behavior. A clean environment reduces the attraction and accessibility.
Use Pet Gates
Install pet gates or doors to restrict the dog’s access to areas where the cat’s litter box is located. Create a private space for cats to do their business without canine interference.
Training and Commands
Train your dog to respond to commands like “leave it” or “stay.” Positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, can be used to reward your dog for obeying commands and avoiding the litter box.
Utilize Covered Litter Boxes
Consider switching to covered litter boxes or ones with tops and openings that are not easily accessible to dogs but allow cats to enter and exit comfortably.
Ensure your dog’s diet is nutritionally balanced. Sometimes, deficiencies in their diet can lead to unusual eating behaviors. Consult with a vet to ensure your dog is getting all the necessary nutrients.
Seek the assistance of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist if the problem persists. They can provide customized strategies based on your dog’s specific behaviors and needs.
Monitor Outdoor Spaces
If cats are present in your outdoor environment, be attentive and supervise your dog while they are outside to prevent them from engaging in coprophagia.
Visit the vet to rule out any underlying health issues that might be leading to this behavior. Medical conditions, nutritional deficiencies, or gastrointestinal problems can sometimes manifest as unusual eating habits.
Provide your dog with plenty of toys and activities to keep them occupied. Mental stimulation and physical exercise can often deter them from undesirable behaviors, including eating cat poop.
By implementing these preventive measures, pet owners can effectively manage and mitigate the behavior of dogs eating cat feces, ensuring a healthy, clean, and harmonious living environment for all pets involved.
What You Can Do If Your Dog Eats Cat Poop
The first thing you will have to do is to try and position the cat’s litter box away from the dog. It sounds obvious and it is actually the main thing vets will recommend. Using a baby fence or any other way try to place the litter box somewhere where your dog won’t find it. It is a simple method that works the best.
You can also use dog-proof litter boxes. Basically, they will allow a cat to poop, but the poop won’t be exposed to a dog, so he can’t eat it. This is a more preferable method if you cannot use the first one for some reason.
Sadly, some owners have a bigger problem. They have a neighbour with a cat, and keeping the cat poop away from the dog is not an option. In that scenario, you should try to repel the cats from your home or yard. There are all kinds of methods for this that usually work well. You will also have to take the dog to the vet on a regular basis. This is done to detect any possible issues as soon as you can and deal with them while they don’t cause something more severe.
You will have to teach your dog the “leave it” command as well. Every single time he tries to eat cat poop, you will issue the command, and he must stop. Of course, it means you will have to keep an eye on the dog most of the time.
Keeping your dog busy with toys and healthy food can help the problem. Some dogs eat the poop of cats because they are curious. When they are busy, they are less likely to do this.
The Final Word
Why do some dogs eat cat poop, and what can you do about it? We have provided you with all the needed answers. In general, this is not a huge problem but can become one. Luckily, there are a lot of things you can do, and most of them are 100% effective and easy to implement. Just make sure to try all of them until you find the one that works the best.