A dog looking in the kitty litterDog behavior can range from adorable and sweet to unruly and revolting within seconds. Dogs can surely be well-mannered, but they can’t easily shake all of their inherited instincts. Eating cat poop is one example of a dog behavior that many owners wish they could banish. The Pet Experts discuss whether it’s realistic to curb “litter box mouth” or if dogs will simply be dogs.

At the Core

Dog owners are typically concerned when they discover Fido’s proclivity for eating Fluffy’s feces. While it’s definitely off-putting, this is a common dog behavior that’s pretty normal. That said, there are times when eating cat poop can signal a nutritional deficiency or other behavioral issue.

Your first step should be to schedule a wellness exam. This way, we can examine your pet’s physical state, assess any behavioral concerns, and rule out problems that could trigger your dog’s unsavory snacking habit.

Perfectly Healthy

Once your dog has been cleared of any medical condition, try these tactics at home to curb this dog behavior:

  • Move the location of the litter box from the floor (where it’s easily accessed) to a higher shelf or platform. Of course, make sure your cat knows about this change, and help them in and out of it until they adjust. The last thing you want is for your cat to develop problems associated with their accomplished bathroom skills.
  • Install baby gates to keep your cat’s litter box off-limits to your dog.
  • Clean the box as soon as your cat is finished using it (those mechanical, automatic boxes may work perfectly).
  • Shop around for those clever furniture pieces designed to hide the box inside. Make sure the access is too small for Fido.
  • Add special ingredients to Fluffy’s diet, like unsweetened canned pumpkin, to make the stool less firm (and less appetizing to your dog).

If You’re Really Curious

Some pet owners simply take it at face value that dogs just eat gross stuff. Others might like to know more about this dog behavior.

Coprophagia is the technical term for eating poop. While there could be many reasons for what you’re seeing at home, it’s likely your dog does this because, frankly, they think it tastes good. Cat food is high in protein that isn’t always processed before it’s eliminated. This means it makes for a meaty snack later.

Plus, puppies copy their mother’s behavior from an early age. Known for keeping their areas nice and clean, mother dogs eat up little puppy poops as part of their job. Yes, most dogs grow out of this behavior, but some continue it for life.

Dog Behavior

Dogs will always be dogs, but you can combat wayward behavior with the following tips:

  • Offer high value treats after your dog has performed a task or skill.
  • Supervise interactions between your pets and encourage play.
  • Don’t scold or punish the problem behavior; this will have the opposite effect.

Please let The Pet Experts know if you have any questions or concerns. We’re always here for you!