Dog sniffing grass for cat poop

Key takeaway

Dogs eat cat poop for a variety of reasons, including, nutritional deficiencies, underlying medical conditions, and behavioral issues. While coprophagia is a common condition, it can make your dog sick. Make sure to keep your cat’s litter box out of reach and ensure your pup is well-nourished and engaged to deter them from eating cat poop.

Why Does My Dog Eat Cat Poop? 

There’s nothing more adorable than seeing your dog and cat play together. Sure, dogs and cats have a bad stigma of hating each other, but a lot of the time, they get along perfectly well. 

But if you have a dog and cat, you might have found yourself wondering: “Why does my dog eat cat poop?”.

It might be strange, but it’s not unlikely to see your dog eating cat poop from time to time. Eating poop is a habit called coprophagia. In fact, approximately 16% of dogs regularly eat their own or other animals’ feces.1 

Approximately 16% of dogs regularly eat their own or other animals’ feces.

It’s gross, but there are actually a lot of reasons why dogs eat cat poop. In some cases, dogs may eat feces due to underlying health problems. Other dogs may have simply developed a bad habit. 

While it’s not uncommon to see your dog come up to you with cat litter around their mouth, it’s definitely something you want to avoid as it can cause your dog to get sick. In fact, this behavior can predispose dogs to fecal parasitism, like hookworms.2 

In this blog post, we’ll be answering a lot of questions you’ve probably already asked yourself, like “why does my dog eat my cat’s poop?” and “how can I prevent my dog from eating cat feces?”. It’s important to stop your dog from eating cat poop as early on as possible so you can prevent it from becoming an unhealthy, and potentially dangerous, habit.

    Why Dogs Eat Cat Poop (And Other Things They Shouldn’t)

    Dogs may eat cat poop, among other things they shouldn’t eat, since they are explorers and coprophagia is often a byproduct of exploration. However, coprophagia may also have to do with nutritional deficiencies, medical problems, or behavioral issues. 

    Here are some of the most common reasons why dogs eat cat poop:

    Nutritional Deficiencies

    The reason why your dog is eating cat poop might be due to certain nutritional deficiencies. Your dog doesn’t know what they should and shouldn’t eat, and if they aren’t getting enough nutrients on a regular basis, they may think that eating cat poop is the right idea. This is why it’s so important to feed your dog a well-balanced and nutritious diet so they’re less likely to experience the urge to eat poop.

    Coprophagia can be an indication of vitamin deficiencies in your dog’s diet. However, it’s an uncommon cause of this behavior in Western society due to the availability of high quality foods. 

    Underlying Medical Issues

    Various underlying medical issues can also cause a dog to feel the urge to eat cat poop. Intestinal parasites, poor intestinal absorption, and several other types of hormonal or endocrine imbalances are all potential causes of coprophagia. Coprophagia can also be caused by thiamine deficiencies, pancreatic deficiency, malabsorption disorders, and starvation.3

    These diseases can cause a dog to not properly digest their food, which can cause a large amount of undigested food to be in their stool. Since a dog isn’t properly digesting their food, their appetite isn’t getting satisfied, which can cause them to eat poop out of hunger. 

    This is a less common cause of coprophagia, but it’s still something you should keep in mind as these health issues can pose a lot of health risks to your dog. If you suspect your dog is eating cat poop due to an underlying medical condition, you should bring them to the vet as soon as possible so they can get the proper treatment. 

    Behavioral Issues

    Another main reason dogs eat cat poop is because of behavioral disorders. Many dogs eat cat poop simply because it’s become a habit for them and they actually enjoy doing it, as hard as that might seem to believe. Some dogs enjoy the taste of cat poop, which can contribute to this unhealthy habit.

    Some dogs also eat cat poop simply due to boredom. If they don’t have anyone to play with or spend long periods of time alone in the house, they may revert to eating cat poop as a way to entertain themselves when they’re bored. A dog who has tons of social interaction time is far less likely to eat cat poop, simply because they won’t have the time to do so. Stress can also cause a dog to develop unhealthy tendencies, like eating cat poop. 

    Dogs with underlying anxiety disorders are also more likely to perform coprophagia.4 If your dog has developed a habit of eating cat poop, it can become very difficult to break. For this reason, it’s important to see a vet about your dog’s condition since it may be a symptom of anxiety. 

    Is Cat Poop Bad For Dogs?

    While coprophagia isn’t uncommon for dogs, it’s definitely not good for them. Cat poop can be quite harmful for your dog because it can transmit parasites and bacteria to them. Your cat’s poop may contain several kinds of intestinal parasites, which can be very harmful for your pup. Their poop can also contain salmonella, which can also get transmitted to humans if your dog licks you.

    Can Dogs Get Sick From Eating Cat Poop?

    If your dog eats cat poop, especially if they do so on a frequent basis, they can definitely get sick. Cat poop can transmit parasites and bacteria to your dog which can cause a host of different health issues. If you notice your dog eating cat poop, get them to stop immediately and check for any noticeable symptoms of being sick, like excessive drooling, diarrhea, or vomiting. If your dog does show any signs of being sick, you should call your vet immediately.

    Tips to prevent coprophagia in dogs

    How To Prevent Coprophagia In Dogs

    So now that we’ve answered the question of “why does my dog always eat cat poop?”, let’s discuss the next important topic: how to prevent your dog from eating cat poop. Stopping your dog from eating cat poop might be a difficult habit to break, but it’s crucial for the sake of your dog’s health. 

    Here are several ways how you can prevent coprophagia in dogs:

    1. Move The Litter Box

    Your dog may have developed a habit of eating cat poop simply because your cat’s litter box is located in an area that’s very convenient for them to access. So to help break this habit, you should move the litter box to an area the dog can’t easily get to.Pet parents can also elevate the litter box as long as the cat can easily reach it. 

    You should also make sure the litter box is always clean. If there’s no poop in the litter box, there’s nothing for your dog to eat, so they’ll eventually stop feeling the urge to eat poop. Aim to clean the litter box every time your cat goes to the bathroom. A self-cleaning litter box can make sure your cat’s box is always free of feces. 

    2. Ensure Your Dog Is Properly Nourished

    A reason why your dog is eating cat poop might be because they’re not getting the proper nutrients. In this case, you should talk to your vet about your dog’s diet to ensure they’re getting all of the nutrients they need. If your dog isn’t eating enough or isn’t getting the nutrients they need, they may try to make up for it by eating  poop. So, make sure your dog is properly nourished with a well-balanced diet.

    3. Spend Time Exercising & Engaging With Your Dog

    Boredom and inadequate supervision are major causes of coprophagia, so to prevent your dog from getting bored, make sure you spend ample time playing with them. Make sure they’re getting enough exercise, physical and mental stimulation, and social interaction so they’re not bored and driven to pick up habits like coprophagia. Exercising and engaging with your dog are also just beneficial for their overall health.

    4. Talk To Your Vet

    At the end of the day, your vet will have the best idea of how to prevent your dog from eating cat poop. Your vet can help rule out underlying medical issues and identify behavioral problems and come up with a plan to prevent coprophagia. Before taking matters into your own hands, it’s always a good idea to talk to your vet first.

    Dog and cat cuddling

    Final Notes

    If you have a cat and a dog, it’s not unlikely to see your dog come up to you with litter on their mouth, which can force you to wonder, “why does my dog keep eating cat poop?.”

    There are a lot of reasons why dogs may eat cat poop, from underlying medical issues to behavioral problems, so it’s important to get to the bottom of what’s causing your dog to eat cat poop. Coprophagia can pose a myriad of health risks to your dog, so it’s important to stop them from eating cat poop as early on as possible. Breaking this habit might be difficult for your dog, but it’s necessary for their overall health.

    If you’re not sure what to do about your dog eating cat poop, you should consult with a vet. You can use Dutch.com to get in contact with a vet f who can help you get to the bottom of your dog’s coprophagia. 

    Dutch is a convenient solution for pet care and allows pet owners to get in contact with vets from the comfort of their own homes through our remote telehealth service. Dutch partners with a network of highly trained vets who are qualified to help diagnose and treat a multitude of pet health issues, including coprophagia. Dutch vets will help you figure out a way to put a stop to your dog’s coprophagia before they get sick.

    To get started with Dutch, all you have to do is sign up online, fill out a questionnaire explaining your situation, and you’ll be connected with a licensed veterinarian who you can discuss with in further detail. This vet will help to create a personalized treatment plan for your furry friend and get any medication you’re prescribed delivered directly to your door, so you can treat your pet as quickly as possible.

    References

    1. Hart, Benjamin L., et al. "The paradox of canine conspecific coprophagy." Veterinary medicine and science 4.2 (2018): 106-114.
    2. Nijsse, R., et al. "Toxocara canis in household dogs: prevalence, risk factors and owners’ attitude towards deworming." Parasitology Research 114.2 (2015): 561-569.
    3. Van der Borg, Joanne AM, and E. A. M. Graat. "Pilot study to identify risk factors for coprophagic behaviour in dogs." (2006).
    4. Boze, B. G. "Correlates of coprophagy in the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) as assessed by owner reports." J. Appl. Companion Anim. Behav 4 (2010): 28-38.
    5. Burke, Anna. “Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop? How to Stop a Dog from Eating Cat Poop?” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 5 Nov. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/why-does-my-dog-eat-cat-poop/