Cat poop is annoying at the best of times. It’s smelly, toxic and turns up in all the worst places, often when you least expect it! Finding it hidden in your flower beds and borders just waiting for when you start to weed or do some garden maintenance is awful but it can be much worse if your local cat population is bold and does their business in full view on lawns and patios!
If cat poop is annoying for gardeners and homeowners it can be even worse for dog owners. Some dogs have a nasty habit of scavenging and eating everything – even cat poop!
Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop?
Dogs are known scavengers and will pick up and eat many things that we find disgusting that to them smell just like food! Even cat poop! It’s a natural part of being a dog but it is a habit that we aren’t fond of and for good reason. Poop holds all kinds of bacteria and parasites, some of which can be dangerous to humans. Our doggy pals love to get up close and show their love and no one wants doggy kisses from a mouth that has just eaten poop!
A dog’s sense of smell is very different to ours and with a stronger nose and more tolerance to disgusting smells like poop and rotting meat then a cat’s poop smells exactly like cat food to a dog. It is no wonder that they can be tempted to eat it. Eating poop, even their own puppies poop is actually fairly natural behaviour for a dog but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating for dog owners who would much prefer a dog with poop-free breath.
Eating poop can also be a sign of nutritional deficiency and a dog who isn’t getting the nutrients they need as part of their diet will hunt and scavenge for more food to gain these essential nutrients and some of these nutrients may still be present in poop. The eating of poop in this manner is a habit that even has a name – coprophagia. This is the result of natural scavenging leading to a habit that can be difficult for dog owners to deal with.
Is Cat Poop Bad For Dogs?
It might be gross but eating cat poop from a healthy cat generally won’t lead to too many problems for your pooch. Eating poop is not unusual behaviour for a dog and they tend to have stronger stomachs than us humans. Cat poop does of course contain bacteria and parasites and in rare occasions can pass on some nasty issues to a dog who eats its poop.
The bacteria in cat faeces can actually cause more harm to humans as they can contain things that can make us ill. It is easy for a dog to eat poop and pass these on to it’s human family through the love and attention they show us.
If your dog has developed a habit of eating cat poop and has access to cat litter on occasion this can be highly dangerous. They will pick up some of the litter with the faeces. Too much of this can cause nasty blockages which in worst case scenarios will need help from the vet.
Most dogs will be fine if they eat the odd poop here and there but it isn’t worth the risk if it can be avoided. Especially when you don’t know the cat’s who are doing their business in your garden! Unfortunately, you often can’t tell if a cat has a parasite infestation that might be passed onto you dog.
How Do I Stop My Dog Eating Cat Poop?
The easiest way to stop a dog from eating cat poop is to try and make sure it isn’t available for them to find. This can be easier said than done in many cases – especially if you have unwanted feline visitors using your backyard as their toilet. You can try to solve this by discouraging cats from pooping in your garden and you can read more about this in our article on this very subject here. Unfortunately, if it is your garden that is the main area your dog is picking up cat poop then there is little else you can do. Even the most attentive dog owners can’t watch their pooches 24/7! Discouraging cats from entering your garden is step one and some positive reinforcement training using the ‘leave’ command may work to discourage your dog from picking up cat poop.
Training is important for all dogs and you can teach your dog the ‘leave’ command when they pick up or go near something you would rather they didn’t. With positive reinforcement and plenty of treats, your dog will soon learn that if they leave the item they get something far better! This can work fantastically for those times you are out walking your dog or exploring the outdoors with them as you can see and stop them before they eat any poop they find lying around.
It is of course much more difficult to achieve this in your garden but with plenty of positive reinforcement training, some dogs can get out of their disgusting habit of eating cat poop.
One final step you can take is to ensure your dog is getting a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients. A well-fed and healthy dog is a little less likely to scavenge for nutrients in disgusting places like cat poop. Check your dog food and make sure it is of high quality and consider investing in a better brand to help your pooch break this bad habit.
Unfortunately, you may never be able to rid your dog of this disgusting and frustrating behaviour completely as it is a natural behaviour for our pooches to have but there are steps you can take to discourage your pooch and the best way is to limit your dog’s access to the offending poop which you can do using a variety of cat repellent methods.