When your dog finds a tasty morsel in the litter box, he thinks he has just found treat utopia. Cat poop is known as "kitty roca" or "canine cupcakes" to most dog owners. But for pet parents it is just downright disgusting to find your dog happily munching on the treasure he has uncovered. Not only is it revolting, it can be dangerous for your pup to snack on cat feces. There are multiple strategies you can implement to keep a canine out of the kitty box.
Why Does My Dog Want to Eat Cat Poop?
As unappealing as the smell of cat poop is to people, to dogs it smells like cat food, which dogs love. Cat food is typically higher in protein and fats and so is the fecal material. The cat's unique gastrointestinal system means that it doesn't digest food as thoroughly as other animals. So, to a dog, that poop smells like a delicious snack. In very rare cases a dog might seek out feces due to a vitamin deficiency. However, that is the exception and usually manifests as a dog eating its own feces.
Strategies to Stop Your Dog From Snacking in the Litter Box
There are some steps you can take to keep your dog from partaking in the litter buffet.
Baby gates are a great tool to keep your dog out but still let your cat in. Place the gate inside the doorway leading to the room where the litter box is kept. There are multiple styles of gates available.
- The openings in metal gates are large enough for some cats to walk through. This type of gate works if your dog is a medium to large breed, but will not work if you have a five pound chihuahua, unless it is an overweight one.
- Pressure mounted baby gates made of mesh can work when mounted above the ground. Your cat can go underneath but your dog won't be able to fit. Again, unless you have a tiny dog.
- An inexpensive option is to purchase a simple baby gate and cut a hole in the plastic big enough for your cat to go though. You can place the hole higher up if you have a small dog.
Another product that works well is the DoorBuddy. This device is placed between the door and the wall, leaving the door ajar so that your cat can come and go but not your dog.
Keep the Litter Box Clean
Remove the poop from the box as soon as your cat uses it to keep your dog from eating it. This only works if you are at home most of the day. It is good practice to clean out the litter box occasionally throughout the day to keep your cat happy anyway. But if you work or need to be outside the home often, this option will be difficult.
Use a Different Type of Litter Box
There are litter box options that claim to be dog proof, though the only way to be sure is to try them out. Some of these include:
- Litter boxes cats enter from the top
- Litter boxes with retracting lids
- Litter boxes with cat doors
- Litter boxes that self clean automatically
Not every cat is a good candidate for these types of litter boxes. Older cats or larger cats rarely prefer them. You don't want it to be more difficult for your cat to do their business, as this creates a whole other problem. Some of these litter boxes are also not particularly budget friendly.
Can Eating Cat Poop Make My Dog Sick?
The dog that steals a quick snack from a litter box may not suffer any side effects. But eating cat poop regularly can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Dogs can also get intestinal parasites from eating cat poop. Hookworms, roundworm, and giardia are all transmitted via feces. These parasites cause diarrhea, vomiting, and in severe cases, even weight loss and anemia. A dog can also get sick from ingesting too much of the litter material. It may cause constipation or an obstruction if enough is ingested. You should take your dog to see your veterinarian for regular fecal exams to make sure he hasn't contracted any intestinal parasites from eating cat poop.
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Cat Poop
Your first impulse will be to scold your dog when you find him with cat litter in his teeth or stuck around his nostrils. Resist the urge to reprimand him, even if you catch him in the act. This will only force your dog to sneak away and do it when you aren't looking. If your dog has eaten cat poop, take him to see your veterinarian to make sure there are no adverse effects on his health.
Watch for these symptoms if your dog has ingested a large amount of litter and/or cat poop:
- Painful abdomen
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased energy
If you see any of these, he needs to be seen by your veterinarian right away. If your pup is a frequent flyer in the litter box, talk to your veterinarian about keeping him on a monthly dewormer.
You Can Keep Your Dog From Eating Cat Poop
When your well-meaning dog tries to help you keep the cat litter box clean, it is not only disgusting, it can negatively impact your dog's health. With some creative strategies and diligence on your part, you can keep your dog from using the litter box as his own personal treat buffet. Remember that your pup is just doing what comes naturally and doesn't know that it's bad for him.