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Why Does My Dog Eat Cat Litter?

Is your dog eating cat poop? This peculiar behavior, known as coprophagia, is more common than you may think. In this post, I’ll dive into the reasons behind this unusual habit and ways to address it. So, if you’ve noticed your best pup doing this – and dogs eat cat poop and litter more than most pet parents realize – this blog post is for you.

A dog licking a cat

Why Does My Dog Eat Cat Poop?

Dogs eat cat litter due to their natural scavenging behavior, attraction to the smell and taste, nutritional deficiencies, boredom or curiosity, and behavioral issues. Let’s check out some of the causes for this weird habit in more detail.

Natural Scavenging Behavior

Dogs are naturally inclined to scavenge, a trait traced back to their wild ancestors who had to fend for themselves. This instinctual behavior often leads to them eating poop, drawn by the enticing blend of novel smells and tastes it holds.

The teeming odors from the feline fecal matter tap into your canine’s curiosity and encourage investigation with their senses, including taste. Don’t be alarmed; while it may seem gross or peculiar to us humans, it’s just part of a dog’s nature to snoop around anything that catches its attention – even if that something happens to be in a litter box!

Attraction to The Smell and Taste

Dogs, being naturally inquisitive creatures, can find the smell and taste of cat feces intriguing. The strong scent of cat food remnants in the litter is enticing because most dog’s diet doesn’t include such flavors.

Cat’s poop carries a rich aroma to their carnivorous senses, triggering an irresistible urge to consume it. The odd behavior of dogs eating cat poop could be linked to these very primal instincts.

The aroma from your furry friend’s litter box isn’t just alluring for curious canines, it also satisfies a more primordial need for mental stimulation and exploration. It might appear nonsensical or disgusting from our human perspective, but this natural behavior mirrors their instinctual drive as scavengers and hunters.

Regardless of how repellent we may find it, some canine companions are drawn irresistibly towards the kitty litter due to its unique smell profile.

Nutritional Deficiencies

A core reason dogs eat cat litter could be nutritional deficiencies in their diet. Your furry friend might not be getting all the nutrients needed from their regular meals, leading to an instinctual choice of seeking them from other sources – including cat feces found in litter boxes.

Especially if your dog isn’t receiving enough vitamins or minerals, they may develop a condition known as pica, which triggers the consumption of non-food items like kitty litter.

Vitamin deficiency can lead your canine companion on a scavenger hunt for anything that might fulfill their nutrient needs. Cat poop often contains undigested food particles and is rich in proteins and fats that might attract a nutrient-starved dog.

A well-balanced diet packed with essential elements is key to ward off this strange dining habit. It’s vital to examine your pet’s dietary regimen regularly with a veterinarian, ensuring it meets all necessary health requirements.

A dog and cat playing

Boredom or Curiosity

Boredom or curiosity can drive dogs to engage in unusual behaviors, and eating cat litter is no exception. Dogs are naturally curious animals, and their exploration of the world often involves using their mouths.

When they come across a litter box filled with cat litter, it may pique their interest due to the different texture and smell compared to their regular food. Additionally, if your dog is not getting enough mental stimulation or physical exercise, they may resort to seeking out alternative sources of entertainment such as investigating the cat’s litter box.

It’s important for pet parents to provide plenty of playtime and mental enrichment activities to keep their furry friends occupied and prevent them from developing unhealthy habits like consuming cat litter.

Behavioral Issues

Some dogs may eat cat litter due to underlying behavioral issues. This could include anxiety, stress, or even a compulsive disorder known as coprophagia, where dogs have an urge to consume feces.

It’s important to address these issues and provide proper training and mental stimulation for your dog. Engaging in activities that keep them occupied, offering appropriate chew toys and treats, and providing enough exercise can help redirect their attention away from the cat litter box.

If you suspect your dog has certain behavioral issues contributing to this behavior, it’s best to seek guidance from a veterinarian or professional trainer who can assist in finding solutions specific to your pup’s needs.

Potential Health Risks of Eating Cat Litter

Eating cat litter can pose several potential health risks for dogs. Let’s take a look at some of them in a little more detail:

Intestinal Parasites or Bacteria

Intestinal parasites or bacteria are one of the potential health risks that can arise from a dog eating cat litter. Cat feces may contain harmful organisms like parasites (such as roundworms or tapeworms) or bacteria (like Salmonella or E.coli). When dogs ingest these organisms, they can lead to serious digestive problems and discomfort.

It’s important to note that some parasites can even be transmitted to humans, causing health issues for both pets and pet parents. Therefore, it’s crucial to prevent this behavior and seek advice from your vet if you suspect your dog is eating cat litter or feces.

A dog and cat in the grass

Digestive Problems

Digestive problems are one of the potential health risks associated with dogs eating cat litter. When dogs consume cat litter, it can cause issues in their digestive system. The ingestion of cat litter can lead to gastrointestinal upset and discomfort, including symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.

If you notice symptoms of digestive problems, visit your vet as soon as possible. They will be able to diagnose the problem and help prevent further health complications.

Intestinal Blockages

Intestinal blockages can be a serious consequence of dogs eating cat litter. This occurs when the ingested litter forms a large mass in their digestive tract, obstructing the normal flow of food and waste.

These blockages can cause severe discomfort, pain, and potentially life-threatening complications if not addressed promptly. It’s vital for pet parents to monitor their dog’s behavior closely and seek immediate veterinary attention if they suspect an intestinal blockage.

Regular checkups, ensuring a well-balanced diet, and keeping litter boxes out of reach are essential preventive measures to avoid this hazardous situation for our furry friends.

A dog and cat outside

How to Stop Your Dog Eating Cat Litter

Dealing with a dog that’s taken a liking to cat litter can be challenging, but there are various steps you can take to curb this behavior.

The first step in this process is managing your dog’s access to the litter box. You can consider placing the litter box in an area that’s easily accessible to your cat but not your dog. For instance, you can use a baby gate to block the entrance or put the litter box on an elevated platform that your dog can’t reach but your cat can comfortably jump on to.

Another way to deter your dog from consuming cat litter is by providing engaging alternatives such as chew toys or interactive toys that can keep them distracted and satisfied. Keeping your dog busy with their own toys can lessen their interest in exploring the litter box. Ensure that you select toys that are suitable for your dog’s size and chewing habits.

In addition, consider investing in dog-proof litter boxes. There are various designs available on the market that allow easy access for cats but are difficult for dogs to get into. For example, some boxes feature top-entry designs, or are encased within furniture, which make it harder for dogs to reach the litter while still allowing your cat to use the box with ease. This can be an effective solution to prevent your dog from accessing the cat litter without restricting the cat’s comfort or ability to use the litter box.

When Should You See a Vet?

If your dog continues to eat cat litter despite your best efforts, it’s essential to seek guidance from a veterinarian. They can help determine if there are any underlying health issues that may be driving this behavior and provide appropriate solutions or treatment options.

A vet can also advise on the potential risks and consequences of eating cat litter and help you develop a tailored plan to prevent or manage this habit. It’s always best to consult with a professional who has extensive knowledge in veterinary medicine to ensure the health and wellbeing of your furry friend.

Key Takeaways

  • Dogs may eat cat litter due to natural scavenging behavior, attraction to the smell and taste, nutritional deficiencies, boredom or curiosity, and underlying behavioral issues.
  • Eating cat litter can pose potential health risks for dogs, including intestinal parasites or bacteria, digestive problems, and intestinal blockages.
  • To prevent and manage this behavior, pet parents should keep litter boxes out of reach, provide appropriate chew toys and treats, ensure a balanced diet, and utilize deterrents like physical barriers around the litter box area. It’s also important to seek guidance from a veterinarian if needed.


There are several reasons why your dog may be eating cat litter – from natural scavenging behavior and an attraction to the smell and taste, to nutritional deficiencies or underlying behavioral issues.

However, it’s important to address this behavior as it can pose potential health risks such as intestinal parasites or bacteria, digestive problems, and even intestinal blockages. By taking preventive measures like keeping litter boxes out of reach, providing appropriate chew toys and treats, and ensuring a balanced diet, you can help manage this habit and ensure your furry friend stays healthy.