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How to Stop a Dog From Eating Cat Poop From the Litter Box: Vet-Approved Reasons & Tips

Written by: Kathryn Copeland

Last Updated on March 6, 2024 by Dogster Team


How to Stop a Dog From Eating Cat Poop From the Litter Box: Vet-Approved Reasons & Tips


Dr. Karyn Kanowski Photo


Dr. Karyn Kanowski

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you’re the unlucky owner of a silly dog that seems to enjoy eating your cat’s poop, you’re likely at your wit’s end. Not only does it rate highly on the gross-o-meter, it’s also unhygienic, meaning there are potential health risks associated with this nasty habit.

So, you clearly need to put an end to this behavior, and that’s why you’re here. Let’s get into the reasons that your dog eats cat poop and how to prevent it.

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Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop?

You should first understand the possible behavioral and medical reasons that dogs like to partake in a cat poop feast.

Behavioral Reasons

  • Tasty Treat

The behavioral reasons that dogs take to eating poop are partly due to it becoming an ingrained habit. While the smell of feces is gross to humans, it has more of an enticing odor to dogs.

It’s thought that cat poop smells like cat food to a dog’s nose, likely due to the higher meat content of cat food which is why they are drawn to it. The habit forms when they get a “reward” every time they eat it (e.g., it also tastes like cat food).

  • Stress

Some dogs might turn to poop when they are stressed, which can be related to us seeking comfort food in times of stress. This is especially true if they ate cat poop when they were puppies, which makes it their version of comfort food.

Image Credit: Reddogs, Shutterstock
  • Bored

If a dog or puppy isn’t exercised or played with enough, they might turn to eating cat poop. Puppies learn about the world and their immediate environment by stuffing everything into their mouths, and cat poop is no exception! Puppies and dogs that are exercised and played with enough are less likely to resort to eating feces.

  • Hiding the Evidence

If a dog was ever punished for pooping in the house, they might try to hide the evidence by eating it before being caught. So, if they end up enjoying eating poop, they might start to gravitate to the cat’s poop in the litter box.

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Medical Reasons

There are several medical reasons that dogs might resort to eating feces, which is called coprophagy.

  • Malnutrition

A common medical cause for dogs eating poop is that they are suffering from malnutrition. If the dog’s food isn’t AAFCO certified, it’s possible that not all their nutritional needs are being met. In some cases, dog owners make a homemade diet for their dogs, but this must be nutritionally balanced. The food choices and supplements should be monitored by a veterinary nutritionist or veterinarian to ensure that your dog is eating a balanced and healthy diet.

Image Credit: xtotha, Shutterstock
  • Miscellaneous

Other medical causes for coprophagy can include the following:

  • Intestinal parasites: These can include worms, particularly tapeworms, which leach the dog’s nutrients, and the animal will also feel constantly hungry.
  • Conditions that affect the appetite: Things like thyroid issues and diabetes can increase the dog’s appetite, making it more likely for the dog to eat anything that they can find, including poop.
  • Cognitive issues: Senior dogs might eat poop because they are suffering from some kind of cognitive dysfunction.

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The 8 Tips on How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Cat Poop From the Litter Box

1. Clean the Litter Box Straightaway

Image Credit: Mila Naumova, Shutterstock

The moment that your cat poops, scoop it out so there’s no poop for your pup. This is the quickest and easiest method, but it also requires constant vigilance every time your cat goes to the litter box.

2. Put the Litter Box in Another Room

Some owners will put the litter box in a room and take steps to make it inaccessible for the dog. You can use a hook and latch on the door so only your cat can squeeze in, but this won’t work if your dog is the same size or smaller than your cat. If you can find a way to prop the door for your cat but your dog won’t be able to barrel their way in, this might work in your situation.

3. Set Up Baby Gates

Cat and dog introduction through pet gate barrier
Image Credit: sophiecat, Shutterstock

You can section off a room or closet or even part of a room with a baby gate. If you have a giant breed, like a Great Dane, you’ll want to raise the barrier off the floor so your cat can crawl under. With smaller dogs, keep the gate on the floor, but put something on the other side of the gate, like a cat tree or sturdy scratching post, to give your cat easy access. Of course, most cats can handle jumping over the baby gate without help.

4. Allow Time for More Training

If you haven’t already trained your dog to “leave it,” now is the time. It’s an excellent command to teach your dog because not only can you stop your dog from eating cat feces, but you can also keep them from eating something dangerous while on walks.

5. Check Your Dog’s Diet

man buying dog food
Image Credit: BearFotos, Shutterstock

If you have been giving your dog a homemade diet or are unsure whether the food they are eating is benefiting them, make an appointment with your vet. You need to ensure that they are getting all the necessary nutrients and that they are eating enough and not left hungry.

6. Keep Your Dog Entertained

If there’s a chance that your dog is eating poo because they are bored, spend time giving them enough exercise and playtime, and be sure to provide a rotating supply of boredom-busting toys and games. A dog that is happy and tired will be less likely to eat cat poop.

7. Change the Litter Box


Image Credit: MyImages Micha, Shutterstock

This might not be feasible because it depends entirely on your cat. There are several enclosed cat litter boxes on the market—some have front entries and others have top entries. You can also think about building your own. But not all cats like an enclosed litter box, so it might be a bit of an experiment. Bear in mind that you can’t just take away the old box and bring in the new litter one. It must be a slow transition.

8. Hide the Litter Box

There are lots of different options available to conceal your litter box in an aesthetically pleasing way. Some can be quite pricey, but there are also lots of ways you can create your own litter box hideaway. This keeps the box out of view and out of reach.

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Is Cat Poop Bad for Dogs?

Yes, cat poop isn’t good for dogs, and it’s for the same reasons that poop really isn’t good for anyone. Cat feces could have intestinal parasites, which can be transferred to the dog. There are also harmful bacteria that cause diseases, such as E. coli or Salmonella, and these can be passed on to your dog.

Young veterinarian with medical document touching dog neck and cuddling it during appointment
Image Credit: Pressmaster, Shutterstock

If your cat is on any medication, some of it can be ingested by your dog, which might be harmful. Also, your dog will use their poopy mouth to slobber all over your and your family’s faces and hands.

If your dog has eaten your cat’s poop, look out for the following signs:

See your veterinarian if your dog is showing any of these signs.

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It might take a bit of ingenuity, but keeping your dog out of the kitty litter is manageable. It will help if you first figure out why your dog is eating it in the first place, so get your veterinarian involved. It might just be an instinct, and there’s likely absolutely nothing wrong with your dog. Hopefully, these tips will help, and you’ll eventually have a pup without poop breath!

Featured Image Credit: Jenn_C, Shutterstock

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