Dogs Eating Cat Litter

Dr Kate Mornement - Vet and Pet Behaviourist profile picture

Dr Kate Mornement - Vet and Pet Behaviourist

PhD in Companion Animal Behaviour, BSc(Hons) in Zoology

Dr Kate Mornement is an Applied Animal Behaviourist, Consultant and Educator to pet parents, industry, government and media. She has a PhD which focused on companion animal behaviour from Monash University and a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Zoology (Animal Behaviour) from Latrobe university.

Dogs Eating Cat Litter

Dogs eating cat litter and cat poo is a bit gross, but it is a common problem for pet owners who have both a cat and a dog. So why would a dog want to eat the cat litter and how can you stop it from happening?

Why Dogs eat Cat Litter and Cat Poo

There are several theories about why dogs eat cat poo and cat litter. Dogs are scavengers by nature and it’s a normal instinct to eat things they find that smell or taste good. Cat poop likely smells and tastes pretty good to dogs and that’s why they eat it. Some dogs end up developing a habit of eating cat poo because it’s readily available.

Other than smelling and tasting good, dogs may eat cat poo because they have a nutritional deficiency in their diet or because they’re hungry. Eating faeces is also part of normal maternal behaviour and some people believe this instinct can contribute to the behaviour as well.

Is eating cat litter bad for dogs?

Eating cat litter can be dangerous for dogs if they eat a large amount, as it could cause a blockage. However most dogs consume relatively small amounts. They tend to target the poo which is coated in litter rather than the litter on its own.

Although cat litter isn’t toxic to dogs, both clumping and non-clumping varieties are designed to absorb liquid which can cause irritation or inflammation when ingested. Using a natural cat litter can be a safer option if you're having trouble.

If your dog has eaten cat litter and you notice they’re having difficulty going to the toilet, their poo looks abnormal or they’re uncomfortable it’s best to take your dog to the vet for a check-up.

Is eating cat poo bad for dogs?

In general, eating cat poo isn’t a medical emergency for your dog. Many dogs eat cat poo and other varieties of poo for that matter, without it causing a problem. That said, eating other animals’ poo, including cat poo, carries a risk of the dog contracting internal parasites and bacteria such as worms or salmonella.

Eating cat poo can also make a dog’s breath smell awful. This can result in their owner not wanting to spend as much time with their pet.

How to stop your Dog eating Cat Poo

There are several things you can do to help stop your dog eating cat poo and cat litter. These include:

1. Place the cat litter out of reach

Lifting the cat litter tray off the ground and placing it on a bench can make it harder for your dog to access.

2. Use a physical barrier

Use a barrier or baby-gate which allows your cat access to the tray but blocks your dog from entering.

3. Clean the litter tray frequently

Clean the litter tray as often as possible to remove the opportunity for your dog to engage in the behaviour.

4. Feed your dog from puzzle toys

Providing opportunities for your dog to scavenge using feeding puzzles helps provide an outlet for the instinctive behaviour.

5. Ensure you’re feeding a nutritionally balanced diet

Feeding a nutritious and balanced diet spread over two meals per day can help ensure your dog isn’t hungry.

6. Make your dog’s food smell and taste extra special

Adding a little tuna or sardines to your dog’s food can help it to smell and taste even better. This may help reduce the likelihood your dog will seek out the cat poo.

With all these measures in place, you should find that your dog no longer eats cat poo or litter and you and your dog can enjoy cuddles together again!

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