As disgusting as it is, dogs eat cat poop. Eating poop is a pretty typical thing for dogs to do. There are many reasons why dogs eat cat poo and getting down to the exact reason why should be an exercise of trial and error.
The technical term for eating other animals poop is coprophagia, which sounds about as unpleasant as the act itself! What ever the reason, it’s not healthy for your pet to eat feces.
Why does my puppy eat cat poop?
This disgusting behaviour can be normal in puppies and young dogs. When they are growing up they go through a period of natural curiousness and they are chewing machines. Puppies simply love to chew everything in sight and cat and other animal poop could just be the next item in their war path.
There is some evidence that the high levels of decycholic acid in feces may help them with their neurological development but this behaviour should stop once you start feeding your puppy a balanced diet.
Why do adult dogs eat cat poop?
Dogs eat cat poop probably because cat food is higher in fat and protein than dog food, and consequently cat feces is too. Dogs might find the taste appealing as their diet might be a little too restricted. Cat food has a higher percentage of fat and protein, so it’s worth looking at introducing a little more fat and protein in to your dogs diet. Consult your vet before you change your dog’s food completely.
Using positive reinforcement to stop this behaviour
The most important tip for puppies exhibiting this behaviour, is not to punish the act, but rather offer alternative things to chew and play with.
Your dog may be experiencing a medical problem which causes it to eat feces. Diseases such as anemia, malnutrition or malabsorption, endocrine disease and bowel conditions are rare causes of coprophagia, and usually your dog will be perfectly healthy.
A lack of nutrients in your dogs diet might be a cause but most commercial pet foods are balanced to include all the vitamins and minerals your dog needs, but food on the cheaper side of the spectrum might include other ingredients which is causing your dog to be nutrient deficient.
Dr Sherrey Weaver over at Cesar Milan’s site suggests that malnutrition might be a cause too.
Some medication might cause your dog to have an increased appetite which can lead to the problem of eating cat poop.
Your dog might have worms
Always ensure your dog is wormed regularly both to avoid the problem starting and to treat GI parasitism that can result from regular coprophagia.
How to stop it
Encouraging your dog to stop eating poo by using positive reinforcement will stick with your dog better than punishing the bad. This has been proven in many dog studies. Punishment for eating poo can also confuse your dog into thinking they need to hide what they’re doing from you. So the best way to hide it from you is to eat it.
Lastly, and one that works a lot for us is to keep your cat litter tray clean and hide it out of reach of your dog. If your dog is exhibiting no other health issues or behavioural problems, and you’ve dewormed them, then removing the litter tray and keeping them away from poop is the next best thing.
Breaking the habit
If you’ve changed your dogs diet, ruled out other medical conditions then you simply need to break the habit using positive reinforcement. Dr Shelley also recommends to use products which makes the feces taste bitter but that hasn’t worked in our experience. Another approach is to pour hot sauce over the poop which will stop your dog from eating it, but again we’ve found that this can cause a stomach upset. In our opinion, removing the offending poop from reach and using positive reinforcement when you catch the dog is the way to go.
Over to you, what do you do to stop your dogs from eating cat poop and other animal’s feces? Let us know in the comments!