9 Reasons Why Dogs Eat Cat Poop and How to Stop It

It isn’t that uncommon to eat cat poop (for dogs, anyway). It even has a name – coprophagia. Regardless, it’s disgusting and it is bad for their health. It also tends to lead to litter and litter critters being strewn across the kitchen floor.

There are several potential causes of this behavior, but there are actions that you can take to prevent it. Below, we have listed nine methods you can use to deter or prevent your dog from eating cat poop.

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1. Teach Basic Commands

commanding dog
Credit: Kzenon, Shutterstock

One of the basic commands that you teach your dog is to “leave it”. You can probably recognize the signs that your dog is about to go litter dipping. When you see the sure-fire signs, use a firm tone, and tell him to “leave it”. If they do as you say, give them plenty of praise and a treat. If they don’t listen, say it again in a firmer tone. Your dog can’t understand the words you use, but they understand your tone of voice. Be persistent and be firm, but don’t be cruel or physical. If you are consistent in your use of the command, they will learn. Bear in mind that even the most intelligent breeds can take a dozen times or so to learn a new command — and this is the exception, so expect this to take a while.


2. Provide A Distraction

Dogs get bored. Some dogs get really bored, very easily. When bored, they are more likely to wander and investigate. They may even be eating cat poop because they’re bored and looking for entertainment. Make sure they have plenty of toys that they enjoy. If you can find a scented or flavored one that is more appealing, it will keep them away from the cat litter.


3. Create A Barrier

The most basic way to prevent your dog from getting in the cat litter is to prevent them from getting in an impregnable barrier around the litter tray. If your dog can’t get to the litter, he can’t eat the poop.


4. Keep It Clean

Another basic way of preventing poop dipping is to ensure that there is no poop. As soon as you see any poop in the tray, ensure that it is removed and thrown away. This also prevents the smell of cat poop from spreading around the house.


5. Try A Dog-Proof Litter Box

cat inside a hooded litter box
Image: Zoran Photographer, Shutterstock

Hooded or covered litter trays may not physically prevent your dog from getting any soil out, but they do stop the smell from spreading so easily. It is the smell that usually attracts your dog, and that lets him know there is something worth investigating. A hooded litter tray also gives your cat a bit of privacy while he is doing his business.


6. Try a Self-Cleaning Litter Box

Self-cleaning litter trays, also called automatic litter trays, are more expensive than their standard alternatives. They typically use a rake system that passes over the litter and pushes waste into a covered compartment. They can be set so that they detect when your cat is in the box, and they will clean waste away a few minutes after your cat has finished. They will even count how many times your cat uses the tray so that you can monitor their toileting habits and ensure that they remain healthy.


7. Try Stool Deterrents

NaturVet Coprophagia Deterrent Plus Breath Aid Dog Soft Chews

According to veterinary science, one of the reasons that dogs eat cat poop is because they are missing certain nutrients and enzymes in their diet. Their body detects this absence and looks for sources of it. Stool deterrents contain the protein that your dog is missing from their diet, therefore negating the need to have to go searching for it. You can even get deterrents that have natural breath fresheners and other ingredients that are beneficial to your dog, and you.


8. Use Natural Litter Deterrents

Dogs usually dislike the taste of black pepper or chili. You can try putting a sprinkle of black pepper in the litter, or a drop of chili sauce. Be aware that if your dog does persist in eating the contents of the tray, he will probably be eating the deterrent, too, and this may lead to other poop-related problems. Also, be aware that it isn’t just dogs that dislike these smells, most cats do too. If you add black pepper to the litter tray and find that your cat is more prone to accidents around the house, look for an alternative solution.


9. Enhance Your Dog’s Diet

To a dog, cat poop smells of the food that your cat is eating, and most dogs love the rich flavor of cat food. Therefore, they also love the same rich flavor of the poop. Your dog could be bored with the taste of their own food. They could also be letting you know that they need more protein and a greater range of nutrients in their diet.

In either case, consider upgrading their food to something that is better suited to them. Choose a food that is suitable for your type of dog, its time of life, and a flavor that he will love. There are both grain-free and grain-inclusive recipes available, so there is a great range of foods available even if your dog suffers from allergies and intolerances.

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Stop Your Dog from Eating Cat Poop

It might be natural for your dog to smell and eat cat poop, but it is also unhealthy and incredibly unpleasant. If possible, keep your dog and the cat litter tray in separate locations where the two never meet. This is the only sure-fire way of preventing the habit. You can also train your dog to “leave it”, provide a better diet, or use any of a range of poop deterrent foods. Also, remember that what works for one dog may not work for another, especially because the solution is usually dependent on the cause. Work your way through the techniques above until you find what works best for you and your dog.


Featured Image: Africa Studio, Shutterstock