Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop From Litter Box

To our horror, many dogs like eating various types of faeces. Dogs are scavengers by nature, so this behavior is very normal. Dogs consume a wide variety of objects, including trash, carpet, gravel, and more. Another thing to scavenge and consume is cat feces.

While your dog may think cat poop smells bad, you probably believe it smells like cat food. One of the reasons dogs are frequently ready to nibble out of the litter box is that regular cat food appeals to a dog’s sense of smell and many dogs love to eat cat food.

Coprophagia, the habit of eating feces, can be caused by a dietary deficiency, but it typically results from curiosity and can quickly develop into a terrible habit. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “many dogs are attracted to and may consume feces, compost, and prey as part of exploratory behavior” (dead or live). Additionally, dogs’ typical maternal behavior includes consuming the pee and excrement of young puppies.

What causes my dog to consume cat litter box poop?

Dogs will ingest feces for two main sorts of causes. Although there are some medical explanations as well, behavioral causes account for the majority of cases.

Behavioral Reasons

Unfortunately, eating feces develops into a habit in many dogs—possibly the majority. Some dogs even appear to like eating it, in fact. It might be really challenging to break this behavior. Every time they successfully access the “prize” (a filthy litter box), your dog gets rewarded with something they enjoy, which encourages them to attempt again in the future. Dogs will be drawn to the litter box even if they are aware that they shouldn’t, similar to how we go for the bag of potato chips even though we know it isn’t a healthy food.

Another frequent reason why puppies start consuming excrement is boredom. They use their lips to explore everything, including the litter pan. When they discover a treat hidden inside, they continue to return. Dogs who spend a lot of time playing, exercising, and interacting with their families have a lower risk of developing coprophagia.

Unexpectedly, having an accident inside the house can cause some dogs to start eating their own waste. Some dogs will hide the evidence by eating it if you have already punished them for their mishap in some way, even if it was just yelling or scolding. This is just one of the reasons you should never punish your dog for accidents and only employ positive potty training methods. The problem may also affect the litter box once they realize they enjoy the flavor of feces.

And last, stressed-out dogs have been known to start eating their own waste. Like humans who resort to their comfort foods, stressed-out dogs will seek solace in the activities they loved as puppies. This may involve coprophagy in some canines.

Medical Reasons

Even though it’s less often, medical reasons for dogs ingesting cat excrement are frequently identified.

When dogs are provided a diet that does not fully satisfy their nutritional demands, malnutrition is usually the most likely cause. Most frequently, we observe this in dogs who are fed homemade diets or those whose nutritional requirements have not been fully met by an AAFCO-certified diet (this information is found on the label).

Intestinal parasites, inadequate intestinal absorption, and specific hormonal or endocrine abnormalities may also be contributing factors. On occasion, older canines who start the behavior all of a sudden could be experiencing cognitive problems.

The good news is that if your veterinarian determines that your dog’s coprophagy has a medical reason, you can treat the underlying issue to avoid more serious issues. The procedure might also assist in reducing the urge to consume feces.

Can dogs become ill after consuming cat feces and litter?

AtlasVet DC’s Dr. Brittany Cartlidge: Let’s face it: Some dogs will consume anything, including cat feces. This is among the key causes of my dislike of dogs licking my face. Who can tell where their words have gone?

To dogs, cat litter boxes are like chests of hidden treasure. Cat feces contain a high level of protein, just like cat chow. Dogs find it appealing because of this. Some canines even enjoy the flavor of cat litter.

By consuming feces, your dog runs the risk of contracting intestinal parasites. Giardia, whipworms, hookworms, and roundworms can all spread by coprophagy (the medical term for eating fecal material). In severe situations, these parasites can also result in anemia and weight loss in addition to vomiting and diarrhea. Keep your dog on heartworm prevention every month because it also protects against the majority of intestinal parasites. If your cat goes outside, keep him on preventatives as well. Since cat litter retains moisture, it theoretically could make a dog ill if they ate a lot of it, leading to blockage or constipation.

To let the cat use the litter box while keeping the dog out, try using a baby gate or cat door. If you can catch the dog in the act, it will be easier to train them to obey the command “leave.” Last but not least, make an effort to clean the litter box after your cat uses it to eliminate the temptation for your dog. Although the majority of dogs don’t become sick from consuming litter box treasures, trying to avoid it is a good idea. in particular if you let your dog to lick your face.

Will my dog be alright after consuming cat waste?

Most of the time, eating cat poop will only likely result in some bad breath and possibly a short, self-limiting digestive upset like vomiting or diarrhea. However, it’s possible for your dog to get an infection that could lead to long-term problems.

If your dog ate stray cat waste, there is a higher chance that they will experience health issues. Some animals have been found to carry bacteria that domestic pets do not, making eating their feces dangerous.

Large amounts of clumping cat litter have the potential to cause constipation or intestinal obstruction, so if your pup ingests it along with its feces, issues could result. If you are concerned, seek guidance from your veterinarian. The following are a few of the most typical infectious disease causes found in cat waste:


Cats frequently contract the Toxoplasma Gondii parasite, but they can also spread it to other species through their feces. The majority of healthy dogs will not exhibit any overt signs of infection, although young or immunosuppressed canines may exhibit toxoplasmosis symptoms.

Infection risk is increased in pregnant dogs (as are pregnant women). Vomiting, drowsiness, abdominal pain, jaundice, cardiac rhythms, neurological issues, seizures, and stillbirth are just a few of the symptoms that might occur. Hospitalization and medication, such as antibiotics, may be necessary for treatment.


Tapeworm is the most typical worm illness that can affect both cats and dogs (Dipylidium caninum). These parasites transmit their microscopic eggs through the cat’s excrement, but before they can infect a dog, they need to be swallowed by a “intermediate host” like a flea, mouse, or rabbit. Typically, they are not caught straight out of the feces.


Giardia is a protozoa, a type of microscopic parasite that can infect a wide range of organisms. When swallowed, the parasite can begin multiplying in its new host, causing diarrhea and weight loss. The parasite is excreted in the feces. This parasite can be treated with specialized antibiotics and worming medications.


This particular bacteria is zoonotic, which means that your cat and dog can also infect you and other people they come into touch with. It can transmit from cat to dog. Salmonella can be carried by certain cats even though they may not exhibit any clinical symptoms.

Eating contaminated cat feces, even if they are a few days old, could result in illness because the bacteria can persist for a very long time in the environment. Salmonella infections in animals usually cause chronic diarrhea, but they can also cause severe illness if the bacteria get into their circulation.


Cats with weakened immune systems or younger cats are more likely to contract this virus. Similar to salmonella, some cats may not exhibit any signs of campylobacter illness, but they may still be carriers who pass the germs on to other animals through their feces. Unless both your cat and your dog have compromised immune systems, it is uncommon for humans and dogs to contract campylobacter from cats.


Another bacteria that can cause diarrhea in both humans and animals is E. coli (Escherichia coli). There are several bacteria strains, some of which are more likely to harm your health than others.

How can I avoid my dog from consuming cat waste?

8 Ways to Permanently Stop Your Dog from Consuming Cat Poop

  • Teach Your Dog to Say “Leave It”
  • Do Your Dog Some Work.
  • Put up fences to keep people out.
  • ASAP, clean the litter box.
  • Get litter boxes that are dog-proof.
  • Purchase Stool Detersants.
  • Put some hot sauce or black pepper in the litter box.
  • Give your dogs the right kind of food.

How can I prevent my dog from using the cat’s litter box?

You may assist prevent your dog from using your cat’s litter box by following the seven tips listed below. All of them are rather easy, but a few do take some time and work on your part.

Clean your cat’s litter box frequently

As frequently as you can, ideally just after your cat uses it, empty the litter box. This approach demands some of your time. It’s most helpful for people who spend the most of the day at home (let’s face it, you won’t be able to do this if you work outside the home for 8 hours a day). Try to inspect the litter box at least twice a day if you are unable to clean it after each use. Your dog will be able to receive a treat less frequently the faster you get there.

Cover the litter box

This is a simple solution to the issue, but for it to work, both your cat and dog must cooperate. Some cats may become anxious while using covered litter boxes because they dislike feeling caged. This might not be a wise choice for your cat. Next, there’s the size of your dog. However, if you have a lap dog, they may easily fit their head in for a little taste. This is perfect for keeping larger dogs out of the litter.

Get automated

You might want to try an automated litter box if you aren’t home frequently enough to clean up after your cat after each time they use the toilet or if your cat doesn’t enjoy the notion of a covered box. The fact that these litter boxes will clean themselves after each use makes them fantastic. The drawbacks are that they could frighten your cat, they can be expensive, and if your dog is exceptionally quick, it might be able to enter before the self-cleaning starts.

Place your cat’s litter box somewhere high

Cats appreciate being higher than everyone else, therefore they might prefer having their litter box on a table or counter. Your dog won’t be able to obtain it unless they are very enormous or adept climbers. However, the thought of a litter box being there could make you uncomfortable if you have limited space in upper locations and will need to use the space for other purposes.

Keep the litter box area gated

If raising or changing the type of your cat’s litter box are not options, you might want to consider a pet fence. Your dog won’t be able to access the litter box if you install a pet fence, which will fix the issue. How will the cat access it, though? To let your cat in and out, you can get a pet gate with a small pet door built into it. Of course, if your dog and cat are different sizes, that will only work.

Use a dog-proof door latch

You can also keep it confined to a room and use a dog-proof door latch, much like how you would keep your cat’s litter box in a gated area. You can use one of them to leave the entrance to the litter box area cracked open just wide enough for your cat to squeeze through, but not wide enough for your dog to squeeze through. Once again, the close proximity of your pets will make this a subpar choice.

Train your dog to stay away from the litter box

Training your dog to keep away from the litter box is a final possibility. This will take the most of your time and effort to complete. The most straightforward method of training your dog is probably to teach it to say, “Leave it!” Say this command while giving your dog a reward that is far more appetizing than cat excrement, and gradually they will learn that doing good earns them a tasty treat. However, there’s no assurance they won’t use the litter box as soon as you leave the room, so it might be preferable to combine this with another choice on the list.

Canines are hazardous to cat litter?

Despite not being toxic to dogs, cat litter can be harmful if taken in excessive amounts. Both clumping and non-clumping cat litter have the ability to absorb moisture, which can irritate and inflame your dog’s body as it passes through. Because clumps can form in your dog’s stomach and intestines, preventing your dog from being able to poop, clumping cat litters are by far the most hazardous.

However, the problem actually arises when your dog consumes cat waste from the litter box. Litter is made to clump more readily in your dog’s body when it is combined with feces or urine, which speeds up obstruction. In the intestines, it frequently swells, making it challenging to pass through or vomit up. As a result, all more food, gas, and feces become stuck, giving them an upset stomach and constipation. Dogs may also develop belly swelling, seizures, nausea, vomiting, drooling, and the inability to eat at this point. This can be treated promptly at the vet if found early. However, if you hold off too long, a fatal stomach rupture could happen.

The toxins in the cat’s pee or feces may also cause your dog to become bacterially poisoned. If your dog accidentally consumes any cat excrement, they may pick up traces of Escherichia coli and Clostridium, which can result in symptoms similar to food poisoning. Some scented kinds contain both natural and synthetic perfumes to cover odors, which can make dogs sensitive to them.