My Dog Can’t Stop Eating Cat Poop – What Should I Do?

Dangers of Dogs Eating Cat Feces

Eating cat feces can pose a number of health risks to dogs including exposure to parasites, viruses, and bacteria (source). Cat feces often contain parasitic worms such as hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, and tapeworms that can be transmitted to dogs and cause gastrointestinal upset or damage (source). Additionally, cat feces can contain toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that may lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and neurological issues in infected dogs (source). Beyond parasites, cat feces may contain viruses like parvovirus that can cause severe gastrointestinal problems in dogs.

Aside from infectious agents, the act of eating cat feces itself can irritate a dog’s digestive system and cause issues like vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and gastroenteritis. Some dogs may also have allergic reactions to components found in cat feces. In rare cases, a dog may develop an intestinal obstruction or blockage from eating a large quantity of cat litter or feces.

Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop?

There are a few main reasons why dogs eat cat feces:

Natural Scavenging Instinct

Dogs are natural scavengers with an excellent sense of smell, so anything that emits a scent, like cat poop, can be intriguing and lead to their natural tendency to want to eat it. It’s an innate behavior passed down from their wild ancestors (AKC).

Nutritional Deficiency

Eating feces, aka coprophagia, can sometimes be the result of a dietary deficiency in certain nutrients like vitamin B, thiamine, or minerals. Cat feces can contain partially digested food that dogs may eat to fulfill nutritional gaps (PetMD).


Dogs that eat cat poop out of boredom may not be getting enough mental stimulation and activity. Providing enrichment through walks, games, and toys can curb this behavior.

Medical Conditions

In some cases, an underlying health issue like diabetes, Cushing’s disease, or thyroid problems could cause coprophagia. Consulting a vet can rule out medical causes.

How to Stop the Behavior

There are several methods you can try to stop your dog from eating cat poop.

First, increasing your dog’s daily exercise and playtime can curb the behavior. A tired dog is less likely to go seeking cat feces. Try adding an extra walk or play session to burn off excess energy.

You can also add fiber to your dog’s diet, which may make the stool less appealing. Talk to your vet about adding pumpkin, sweet potato, or canned dog foods with extra fiber.

Applying deterrent sprays like bitter apple around the litter box may make the poop unpalatable. Reapply regularly so the smell remains strong. You can also place citrus peels or coffee grounds in the litter box for a natural deterrent.

Frequently cleaning the litter box helps minimize temptation. Scoop at least once a day and change the litter completely every 1-2 weeks.

For more tips, check out this guide:

When to See a Vet

If your dog shows concerning symptoms after eating cat feces, take them to see the vet right away. Persistent diarrhea or vomiting, loss of appetite or lethargy, and unusual bowel movements after eating cat poop signal that something is wrong and professional help is needed (Dog eating cat litter? Find out what to do about it.).

The vet will check for intestinal blockages, parasites like roundworms or giardia, and other illness that could be causing your dog’s symptoms. Intestinal parasites are one of the most common reasons dogs eat cat feces, as they are attracted to the undigested nutrients (Dogs Eating Cat Poop: What It Means and What to Do). The vet can prescribe deworming medication and recommend treatment if parasites or another condition is the culprit.

Seek prompt veterinary attention if your dog’s symptoms do not improve after eating cat feces, as blockages or toxic substances can turn life-threatening without care. With treatment from the vet, your dog has the best chance of recovering from any illness and stopping unhealthy cat poop eating.

Preventative Measures

One of the best ways to stop dogs from eating cat feces is to be proactive with preventative measures.

Daily litter box cleaning is crucial. The more frequently you scoop out the litter box, the less opportunity your dog has access to the feces. Ideally, the litter box should be scooped out twice per day.

Keeping the litter box in an area inaccessible to dogs is also key. Place it in a closet, bathroom, or unused room and keep the door closed. This physically blocks the dog’s access.

Using enclosed or covered litter boxes can also help. The cover contains the smells that may attract the dog and provides an added physical barrier.

Feeding cats separately from dogs in areas the dog can’t access is also advised. Pick up any leftover cat food right away so there is no opportunity for the dog to scavenge.

Taking preventative measures to limit access and promptly clean up waste can curb the undesired behavior in many dogs prone to eating cat feces.

Training Techniques

One of the most effective ways to stop a dog from eating cat poop is through training. Two important commands to teach are “leave it” and “drop it.”

The “leave it” command teaches your dog not to touch or eat the cat poop in the first place. Start training this command by placing a treat on the floor and covering it with your hand. Say “leave it” and wait for your dog to stop sniffing. When he loses interest, reward him with a different treat and praise. Build up to placing cat poop on the floor and giving the “leave it” command before rewarding with a treat.

The “drop it” command is useful if your dog already has the cat poop in his mouth. Hold a treat by his nose and firmly say “drop it.” When he spits out the poop, reward him immediately with the treat and praise. With consistency, he will learn to drop the cat poop when told.

It’s also important to reward your dog for ignoring cat poop. If you notice him walk away from the litter box, reward that behavior with a treat. This positive reinforcement will help curb his desire to eat cat feces.

Using a leash when the dog is around the litter box is another good technique. You can directly control access to the cat poop and reward leaving it alone.

Environment Changes

Making changes to your home environment can help deter dogs from accessing cat litter boxes. Here are some effective strategies:

Dog-proof rooms with litter boxes by installing a baby gate with a cat door. This allows cats access while keeping dogs out. Products like the IRIS USA Dog Proof Cat Litter Box accomplish this easily.

You can also install cat flaps in doors to create litter box areas that only cats can access. Cut an opening in the door and install a flap with magnets or springs that swing shut behind the cat.

Restrict access to litter boxes by placing them in closets, basements, or other areas of the home that dogs can be blocked gates with cat doors allow cats in while keeping dogs out.

Elevated surfaces may also deter dogs, as they make it harder for dogs to easily access and tip over the litter box. Try placing litter boxes on a table, cat tree, or shelf that cats can jump up to.

Products to Deter Dogs

There are several products on the market designed to deter dogs from eating cat feces.

Scat mats are devices that can be placed around litter boxes or in areas where a dog may find cat feces. When a dog steps on the mat, it delivers a light static shock that startles but does not hurt the dog. This teaches the dog to avoid that area. Popular brands include ScatMat and PetSafe ScatMat.

Motion-activated or automated litter boxes, like the PetSafe ScoopFree, make it harder for dogs to access cat waste. They utilize sensors to immediately seal off waste after a cat uses the box.

Pheromone sprays like Sentry Stop That! contain cat facial pheromones that deter dogs from approaching areas sprayed.

Safely Cleaning Up

If your dog has eaten cat feces, it’s important to safely clean up any mess to prevent the spread of bacteria and parasites. Here are some tips for safe cleanup:

Wear disposable gloves when handling cat poop to avoid direct contact with feces. The parasites and bacteria, like Toxoplasma gondii, can be transmitted through ingestion and contact.

Use paper towels to pick up the cat poop. Try not to break up large pieces, as this can further spread bacteria. Place the soiled paper towels in a plastic bag for disposal.

Disinfect any surfaces or areas the cat poop contacted using a cleaner effective against parasites, like benzalkonium chloride. Let the disinfectant sit for 10 minutes before wiping away.

Wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water after removing gloves. Scrub for at least 20 seconds, cleaning under fingernails and between fingers.

Disinfect gloves using disinfectant wipes or spray before taking them off. Remove gloves without touching the outside and dispose of them.

Mop floors using a disinfectant solution and launder any linens or blankets exposed to feces in hot water. Vacuum carpets thoroughly if needed.

Repeatedly cleaning up after a dog who eats cat feces takes effort. But proper precautions can help minimize risks to your family’s health.

When to Worry

While most cases of dogs eating cat feces are harmless, there are some symptoms and situations when it is cause for concern:

Any concerning symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, coughing, or fever after eating cat feces indicate a potential health issue that requires veterinary attention. Certain parasites, bacteria, or toxins found in cat feces can make dogs sick if consumed.

If your dog is suddenly obsessed with eating cat poop despite your best efforts to stop them, consult your vet. Persistent poop eating can point to an underlying medical problem like exocrine pancreatic insufficiency or other nutritional deficiencies.

Dogs that become aggressive or protective of cat feces are also a concern. This resource guarding behavior should be addressed through training before it escalates to snapping or biting.

In general, if your dog’s cat poop eating habit seems extreme or results in illness, seek professional advice. Keep your vet informed so they can check for any underlying issues and help you curb the behavior.

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