Have you caught your dog feasting on cat litter? The sight of it is disgusting but is it okay to let your dog do so? The answer is ‘no’. However, rare grazing won’t adversely affect their health but if it becomes a habit, it can cause bigger problems in a long run. We will see why dogs eat cat litter and its prevention.
Some dogs keep eating whatever their mouths can accommodate. They do it as a part of their exploratory and scavenging behavior. So, if you notice your dog eating any inedible things, you should address correcting such behavior using positive reinforcement methods rather than considering it as a behavioral problem and punishing them.
Dogs are Scavengers
Dogs do not always hunt in the wild. Sure, their ancestors, grey wolves were hunters, but dogs evolved from the wolves who started living along with humans. That said, when both options are available, dogs would resort to scavenging.
Over the years of evolution, dogs lost their ability to hunt actively and relied on humans for food. They would eat leftovers of humans and other animals. Your hound may seem like he is a hunter, but he will only assist you in driving trails so that you can kill the prey. We won’t talk much about hunting dog breeds as it’s another article for another time.
In a nutshell, dogs don’t hunt for food anymore so as a natural instinct for scavenging, they would try to eat what lures them. Cat litter has cat poop and pee with intense scents.
In addition to the love of dogs for poop eating (will talk about it in the next section), cat poop has so many calories. As a scavenger, this is a great opportunity to intake more calories in case a crisis comes.
So as a part of scavenging behavior, dogs would eat poop along with some litter as well. It gets far worse when the dog eats too much cat litter. It can cause GI tract problems and need veterinary care immediately. Other symptoms depend on the type of cat litter you’re using.
Coprophagia – Poop Eating Habit
Dogs are infamous for their love for poop. The poop can be of any animal present around them, sometimes even their own. This fact doesn’t mean your pet is unruly. Dogs used to eat poop to survive in the wild. Here’s how.
Animal poop has undigested food and some calories dogs can use to survive and supplement their nutritional needs. Also, mommy dogs eat their puppies’ excreta to keep them safe from parasites and other illnesses.
However, dogs do not require to pursue coprophagia because when your puppy lives with you, he doesn’t have to worry about surviving and keeping the house clean. So, you should curb their behavioral habit because it can introduce them to new parasites, and eating cat litter along with it can cause bowel obstruction.
A dog’s love for cat food is not unknown. Cat food has more protein and is fat-laden considering a cat’s higher protein and fat requirements than that of dogs. The cat poop still has the potential to lure dogs and act as a great treat for them.
When a dog doesn’t get enough physical and mental stimulation as well as have to spend more alone time at your house, he would love to get involved in eating cat litter.
Dogs have a scent smelling sense 10,000 to 100,000 times stronger than humans. Such a strong and attractive smell is enough to invite them. Also, they don’t have to be hungry or suffer from a nutrient deficiency in order to start eating from a litter box.
Having said tHaving said that, a lonely dog with no toys to play with and no mental stimulation present would indulge himself in this dirty act.
What happens when a dog eats cat poop
Dogs, when eating cat poop are not only ingesting tasty substances but also invite internal or intestinal parasites of cats. Most pet parents believe that they would know when their cats or dogs will have parasites infestation.
Sadly, that’s not true. There are chances that your cat has intestinal parasites, and they now pass to the dog’s guts as well. This can be detrimental to your dog’s health as in most cases the presence of parasites goes unnoticed.
If the dog eats cat poop, he would be able to pass it through its digestive system without any problem. But dogs would also eat cat litter particles stuck with the poop.
Fortunately, a dog has to eat a lot of cat litter to suffer from a blockage inside. However, if you notice your dog has ingested some cat litter as well, you should keep an eye on their bowel movement for about 24-72 hours.
If they seem uneasy and facing problems in passing stool, you should immediately contact your vet.
What can you do to stop your dog from eating cat litter?
Eating poop is normal behavior but if somehow the behavior seems compulsive, you should seek the help of a canine behaviorist. She will be able to help you in solving other behavioral problems as well.
But if your dog doesn’t have any other behavioral issues and is quite obedient, you can teach him the ‘leave it’ command to stop them when you see them eating cat litter. With consistent training and patience, your dog will learn that he is not allowed to scavenge from a litter box.
In addition to this, your dog shouldIn addition to this, your dog should get the required amount of In addition to this, your dog should get the required amount of physical exercise and mental stimulation based on their age, gender, and breed. And also, keep their environment enriched so that they don’t have to go to a litter box for fun, entertainment, and satisfaction.
The best way to ensure that your dog doesn’t feast from the litter box is to make it unreachable for your dog. The dog will have to give up on the idea of eating cat poop and will grow out of the habit.