Have a household of dogs and cats? Ever heard a strange shuffling sound from the litter box only to find your pooch’s face buried in the sand? ‘Why would you do this?!’ you think. We know, we’ve been there. Believe it or not, this is a sort of common behavior for dogs. This time on the Acoma Animal Clinic blog – why dogs eat kitty litter!
There’s Some Science Behind It
As with just about everything your pet does, surprisingly, there is science behind their behavior! While eating poop (of all kinds) is disgusting to us, the behavior is shockingly normal. Dogs are scavengers by nature, they eat all sort s of things to get by and this can include carpet, garbage, even rocks. The kitty litter and the poop therein is just another thing to scavenge.
The cat poop might smell terribly to us, but to the heightened sense of smell of your dog, it actually smells like cat food. You’ve probably had problems with your dog eating the cat food in the past too, haven’t you? To them they think the two things are similar enough to be worth gobbling down.
While usually it’s just a byproduct of your dog exploring and scavenging (which can turn into a bad habit) it’s also possible that it’s due to a dietary deficiency. You’ll want to investigate your dogs diet and see what they might be missing.
Also, remember, that consuming the waste of young puppies is a maternal instinct for dogs.
All of thise means there are a lot of reasons why your dog might be heading to the litter box for a snack!
Is Cat Poop Bad for Dogs?
It’s nasty for sure, but is it bad for them? It absolutely can be! Poop can be host to all sorts of bacteria and parasites that are harmful to dogs.
If your dog is getting to it when the poop is in the litter box then there are some new concerns that come along with it. Eating cat litter in large quantities can cause a blockage. If you catch your dog eating from the litter box, keep an eye on them – if they have a normal bowel movement then you’re probably safe and clear, but if they are having pooping or their feces is unsual, it’s time to call your vet for assessment.
Despite all that, in most cases your dog will be fine if they eat some cat poop. But for everyones safety (and comfort) you should help your dog kick the habit! Here’s how.
Tips to Prevent Your Dog From Eating Cat Poop
The first and most effective step? Keep the litter box out of reach! Keeping your litter box somewhere you dog can’t access it will stop them from scavenging. Use a baby gate to close off the room, preventing you dog access while giving your cats the space they need.
You can also get a litterbox that is ‘dog proof.’ The box will have a lid or covering that makes it difficult, if not impossible, for your dog to access.
While the behavior is quite disgusting, it doesn’t necessarily point to anything being wrong with your dog, just a behavior that does have some risks with it. Thankfully it’s a behavior that you can work to curb, so buckle up and get your dog-training shoes on!