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Home > Dogs > Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop? 5 Common Vet-Reviewed Reasons

Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop? 5 Common Vet-Reviewed Reasons

Austrian black and tan hound dog eating the grass

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Dr. Maja Platisa

Veterinarian, DVM MRCVS

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It isn’t odd for dogs to eat cat poop, though the behavior may be quite disgusting in our minds. There are many reasons for this behavior. Most of them are harmless — it’s just something that dogs do.

However, there are a few potential reasons that are less than optimal. For instance, it could be a sign of nutritional deficiencies.

In this article, we look at the main reasons that dogs eat cat feces. If you have concerns with your dog’s behavior, you may want to speak with your veterinarian. However, most of these reasons are entirely benign.

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The 5 Reasons Dogs Eat Cat Poop

1. Exploratory Behavior

Dogs are curious by nature. Therefore, it isn’t odd for them to eat things that they probably shouldn’t. Puppies are particularly bad about exploring things with their mouth — it’s why they tend to chew on everything.

Human babies and toddlers are similar. They also stick everything in their mouths. But dogs never grow out of it because that’s one of their main ways of figuring things out!

Therefore, some dogs may eat cat feces once and never touch it again. This is typical behavior and has minimal adverse effects in most cases. Still, cats can carry parasites that dogs can become infected with, alongside various bacteria that are present in the feces.

Try and modify this behavior from an early age using positive reinforcement in order to prevent it becoming a habit, as such dogs may also end up chewing and swallowing inedible household items and toys, thus increasing risks of foreign bodies and gastrointestinal obstruction, or at least digestive upset.

bored dog eating grass
Image Credit: JackieLou DL, Pixabay

2. Nutritional Deficiencies

Sometimes, eating cat feces may be a sign of nutritional deficiencies. While cats are good at digesting most of the nutrients in their food, they likely won’t digest everything, and their feces may still smell like cat food, which dogs find very attractive.

If your canine is continuously eating cat or other animal feces, it could be a sign of nutritional deficiencies. Sometimes, this can be caused by low-quality dog food. The food may not have everything that your dog needs to thrive.

On the other hand, specific health problems are also associated with nutritional deficiencies. Your dog may not be able to absorb the correct nutrients from their diet, or they may have an underlying condition that’s causing them to seek more of a specific nutrient.

Often, a trip to the vet is called for in these situations. You’ll want your dog looked at for possible underlying conditions.


3. Taste

Some canines just like the taste of cat feces.

Cats are fed a diet higher in protein and fat than dogs are. The flavors in their food can persist in the stool. Their feces will taste similar to cat food, which many dogs love.

If your dog is eating cat feces simply because it tastes good, it can be challenging to make them stop. You’ll need to cut off access to your cat’s litter box. Training can help, with focus on positive enrichment and patience.

coton de tulear dog in meadow with tongue out
Image Credit: Pixabay

4. Boredom

Many dogs need substantial amounts of mental stimulation. Intelligent breeds (and even breeds that aren’t as intelligent) require regular entertainment to stay happy. Otherwise, they can become bored.

Bored dogs will usually try to make their own fun. Often, this involves doing the things that you don’t want your dog to do, like eating cat feces. Getting into the litter box may provide the excitement that your dog is looking for. It often is better than lying around on the couch, anyway.

Puzzle toys, extra interaction, and training can all wear out your dog’s brain and help ensure that they aren’t bored. Different breeds have different mental stimulation needs. We highly recommend researching any particular breed that you plan on adopting to ensure that you can meet their needs.


5. Habit

Dogs don’t begin eating cat feces out of habit. However, if your dog starts eating cat feces for a different reason, it can become a habit!

After it develops into a habit, it is difficult to make your dog stop. You can increase the amount of entertainment in their day or even switch their dog food. But if it has already turned into a habit, your dog will likely continue, anyway.

In this case, you’ll likely need to prevent your dog from getting into the litter box physically. With time, patience, training, and plenty of physical and mental stimulation, hopefully this behavior can be reduced or stopped.

Dog eating dirt
Image Credit: Kim Christensen, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

It may seem disgusting to us, but most dogs eat cat feces at least once in their life. One or two times isn’t usually enough to hurt your canine.

However, cat feces consumption can expose your dog to potential pathogens. Feces usually contain large amounts of bacteria, taking an extra toll on your dog’s immune system, which may lead to a stomach upset. Some parasites can also jump between species. Many cats are asymptomatic carriers of parasites. However, they can still shed them and pass them on to other animals.

The best way to prevent this behavior is to figure out the root cause. Once you do that, you’ll be able to solve the underlying reason and hopefully, stop the behavior. However, sometimes the behavior itself becomes a habit, which can be more challenging to stop.

If you notice your dog suddenly eating cat feces, it may be time to visit the vet. While many dogs do this for benign reasons, your dog may also have an underlying condition causing the new behavior.

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Featured Image Credit: Wirestock Images, Shutterstock

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