Why do dogs eat cat faeces? Many misconceptions about it out there

Szénási Szimonetta

2024. April 21 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

Many people think that dogs eat droppings because of some deficiency disease, or that they are attracted by the smell. But the explanation for the behaviour is much more complex.


Dog owner who also have cats, especially if both are indoors, could tell you about this annoying habit. In such cases, the dog may eat cat faeces from the litter box. It’s both annoying and disgusting, but you should know that there are several reasons for this habit. Moreover, if you get it wrong, you can sometimes miss a serious problem.

Dogs and cats living together can create strange situations.


Ingestion of excrements is known as coprophagia. Not only other animals, but also the dog can consume their own faeces.

As PetMD, the veterinary site points out that this is normal in some cases: the mother, while caring for her puppies, will stimulate them to do their job by licking them and then eat the droppings as part of the cleaning process.

She also encourages them to do so. This is because the puppies’ intestinal tract does not yet contain the flora needed for digestion, which they can then introduce into their bodies this way. But later, this is no longer the main motivation for your pet.

Why could they be doing it?

When your four-legged friend starts to frequent the cat litter buffet there could be two main explanations.

Behavioural problems

The dog could be eating cat faeces because it has become a habit. So, there is a behavioural explanation. The dogs, often because they are bored, develop these habits, so it‘s worth considering whether you’re giving them enough exercise and attention. It can also be part of exploring the world when it comes to puppies, and thus many pets literally get hooked on the taste. This makes it exceedingly difficult to get them to change their minds.

In addition to boredom, stress often leads to coprophagia and, interestingly, so does punishment. Scolding your dog for going potty in the house (or the wrong place) may encourage them to hide their “tracks” in the future. And once they get hooked on eating their own poop, it can easily spread to the contents of the litter tray. (This is one of the reasons why proper parenting and consistency are important.)

Boredom, stress, and fear can also be triggers.

Health reasons

Although less common, there may be a medical problem behind the behaviour.

One can be malnutrition and the resulting nutrient deficiencies. According to experts, it is more common in animals kept on poorly formulated pet food and on cheaper, poor-quality feeds.

In addition intestinal parasite infection, hormonal disorders, and endocrine disorders can also lead to the dog starting to ingest cat faeces.  In older dogs it could also point to cognitive decline.

Be sure to see a vet!

For all these reasons, we strongly recommend a visit to the vet to rule out any of these causes. It can also provide good advice on behavioural problems.

Can a dog get sick from cat poop?

Unfortunately, there is a risk of intestinal worms or bacteria getting into the body (most commonly in the case of wild or stray cats.) And if the cat is taking medication, any residue can cause problems.

It is dangerous for you too!

Kisses from a dog on cat litter diet are a danger to the owner, as is licking objects such as the table.

What can you do about it?

Once you have ruled out health problems, you should be very patient and start to get them out of the habit. It will likely take a long time. You may also need professional help with this.

What is certain is that the cat litter should be cleaned as soon as possible after the cat, and the poop in the garden should be cleared up too.

Enclosing the litter box can also help, of course so that the cat still has access. Safety bars for small children can work for this purpose.

Other than coprophagia, dogs have many bizarre habits. If you want to understand more of these, than click here.

boredom coprophagia coprophagy dog and cat hormonal problem pica stress stressed dog

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