A picture of a dog (chihuahua) next to a cat

Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop? (And How to Stop It)

Medicinal, nutritional, and behavioral issues can all cause a dog to eat cat poop. We'll explore why this phenomenon occurs and how to stop a dog from eating cat poop in this guide.

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Why do dogs like cat poop? It may just seem like pointless, gross behavior, but dogs eat cat poop for a variety of reasons, including behavioral and nutritional causes. Let’s delve deeper to understand why this bad habit occurs.

In this guide:

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Medical and nutritional causes

Dogs eating cat poop can be attributed to several medical issues and nutritional deficiencies. You need to identify these possible causes to provide the best care for your dog.


Coprophagia is the scientific term used to describe the act of consuming feces. Coprophagia may seem odd to humans, but it can occur naturally in the animal kingdom. For dogs, coprophagia can indicate an underlying health issue or may be a symptom of a behavioral problem.

>> Read more: Yorkies Eating Poop: Causes & Solutions

Nutritional deficiencies

Some dogs may resort to eating cat poop due to a dietary deficiency. Cats and dogs have different dietary and nutritional requirements, and a cat’s waste may contain undigested nutrients that a dog finds appealing, especially when their own diet lacks certain vitamins or minerals. This is why it’s crucial to feed your dog a high-quality diet made with healthy ingredients and limited fillers.

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Gastrointestinal disorders

Gastrointestinal issues, such as malabsorption syndromes or dog inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), could drive your dog to seek out alternative sources of nutrition, including cat poop. If your dog is not absorbing nutrients effectively from their regular meals, it might lead to a vitamin deficiency that causes them to eat cat poop.

>> Read more: Best Dog Food for IBD & IBS


Intestinal parasites could influence some dogs to eat cat poop. These parasites can alter a dog’s appetite, leading them to eat things they wouldn’t usually consume. They can also cause nutritional deficiencies (covered above) since the parasite leeches nutrients away from its host. If you’re behind on your dog’s heartworm medicine or suspect they may have some other type of parasite, you should consult your vet right away.

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Pica is a condition where dogs have an appetite for non-food items, including cat poop. Both medical and behavioral issues can cause pica, and it’s always a good idea to consult your vet if your dog is exhibiting symptoms of pica.

Pica can also lead to dangerous issues like intestinal blockage, so you should carefully monitor your dog to prevent them from chewing on any non-food items.

Pancreatic insufficiency

The pancreas is responsible for producing enzymes that aid in digestion. A dog with an insufficiently functioning pancreas (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency or EPI) may not get enough nutrients from its regular diet. This could cause it to eat cat feces, which may contain leftover nutrients from the cat’s food.

Diabetes, thyroid, and other metabolic disorders

Certain metabolic disorders, such as diabetes and thyroid issues, can result in an increased appetite in dogs. This can lead dogs to eat things they normally wouldn’t, including cat poop.

Dogs with diabetes can lack glucose, and low glucose levels can lead to an increase in appetite. If you notice a sudden or unusual increase in your dog’s hunger throughout the day, it’s best to visit your veterinarian to test for metabolic disorders.

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Some medications can cause an increase in appetite, which can lead to your dog eating cat poop. If your dog has started a new medication and you notice this behavior, it would be wise to consult with your veterinarian.

Steroidal treatments in particular, such as prednisone, can lead to an increase in a dog’s appetite, leading them to seek food outside of regular mealtimes. Some medications, such as benzodiazepines and antihistamines, also list increased hunger as a side effect, which could lead to the dog eating cat poop to satiate their hunger.

Enzyme deficiency

Enzymes play a crucial role in digesting food and extracting nutrients. If a dog’s body isn’t producing enough digestive enzymes, this could lead to poor digestion and nutrient absorption. As a result, your dog might be tempted to eat cat poop as a way to get additional nutrients.

Behavioral issues

Dog behavior is complex and can be influenced by various factors:


Dogs eating cat poop could be a response to anxiety or stress, which lead dogs to perform unusual behaviors as a coping mechanism. If this is the case, it’s crucial to identify stressors in the dog’s environment and work towards eliminating them.

>> Read more: Yorkie Separation Anxiety: Symptoms & Solutions


In some cases, dogs may eat cat poop due to boredom or lack of attention. Dogs are extremely social creatures, and if they are not getting the required attention, they may resort to unusual behaviors to attract it. They quickly learn that such behavior grabs their owner’s attention, even though it is negative.

Therefore, providing attention, mental stimulation, and enough exercise to your dog can help alleviate this behavior.

In addition to regular walks and games of fetch, puzzle toys are an excellent way to mentally stimulate your dog.

They just like how it smells

In addition to the behavioral issues above, simple curiosity may be a factor. Dogs use their noses and mouths as a means to interact with their world, and this can involve tasting and chewing various items, including animal poop. This exploratory behavior is especially common in puppies.

Addressing any of these behavioral issues may involve a multifaceted approach, combining changes in the home environment, daily training, and sometimes even professional help from a dog behaviorist or trainer. Ultimately, understanding the behavioral reasons behind why dogs eat cat poop can help inform the most effective strategies for stopping this behavior.

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How to stop dogs from eating cat poop

A combination of distraction techniques, stimulation and attention, and discouraging the behavior when it occurs can all help to stop your dog from eating cat poop.

Make sure they’re getting a good diet

One potential solution to curb your dog’s penchant for cat poop is ensuring they receive a nutritious,  well-balanced diet. A dog’s diet is crucial to its overall health, behavior, and well-being. If a dog isn’t getting the necessary nutrients from its food, it may seek alternative sources of nutrition, such as cat poop.

Transitioning your dog to a high-quality diet can make a significant difference. This food should be rich in essential nutrients like protein content, vitamins, and minerals, and be specifically tailored to your dog’s size, age, and health condition. The right food can keep your dog healthy and reduce their interest in cat feces.

In our experience, your best option is fresh pet food, such as The Farmer’s Dog. The brand only uses human-grade meats and veggies, which are gently cooked to keep nutrients intact. This wet food is then frozen and shipped straight to your dog on a regular basis, so your dog always has a fresh, nutrient-dense meal. You can learn more, watch us unbox it, and get an exclusive discount in our The Farmer’s Dog review.

>> Read more: The Farmer’s Cat: Does The Farmer’s Dog Make Cat Food?

Parasites could be to blame

Intestinal parasites may cause your dog’s interest in cat poop. Some parasites can manipulate their host’s behavior to enhance their own survival and transmission.

If you suspect this could be the case, you should seek immediate veterinary attention. Your vet can perform the necessary tests to identify internal parasites and prescribe the right treatment to address the issue.

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Train them to leave it

Another effective way to stop your dog from eating cat poop is to train them with the “leave it” command. This command is useful to prevent your dog from engaging in unwanted behaviors, including eating cat poop.

The training process involves consistently telling your dog to “leave it” when approaching something they want and rewarding them with a training treat when they obey. Remember, it’s all about repetition and positive reinforcement. Training your dog to understand and obey the “leave it” command can take time, but with patience and consistency, it can be a highly effective strategy.

If you’re not sure where to start, we strongly recommend checking out our K9 Training Institute review or dog trainer Brandon McMillan’s Masterclass on dog training. We’ve gone through both online courses and found them hugely helpful.

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  • Learn advanced techniques used by experienced dog trainers
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Clean out the litter box right away

Keeping a clean litter box is a simple and effective method to prevent your dog from eating cat poop. Dogs can be opportunistic and may take advantage of a dirty litter box if given the chance.

By promptly cleaning the cat litter after your cat has a bowel movement, you can greatly reduce the chances of your dog eating cat poop. It also benefits your cat’s hygiene and the smell of your home, making it a win-win solution.

Consider setting a regular schedule for cleaning out the litter box to ensure it’s always clean and unappealing to your curious canine. Alternatively, you could invest in an automatic, self-cleaning litter box.

Get an enclosed or dog-proof litter box

For households with dogs that are persistent in attempting to access the litter box, consider investing in an enclosed litter box. These specially designed litter boxes have a cover or a door that allows cats to enter and exit but prevents medium and large dogs from accessing the contents inside.

This solution not only solves the issue of dogs eating cat feces, but it is also beneficial for cats that prefer secluded spots to do their business. Additionally, many enclosed litter boxes are much more visually appealing. Some even look like side tables, so they can be incorporated into your home décor.

Remember that transitioning a cat to a new litter box, especially an enclosed one, might take some time and patience. Introducing the new litter box gradually is crucial to ensure your cat adjusts to the new setup without any anxiety or discomfort.

If you want to keep your current litter box, try moving it to an area where it can be blocked by a baby gate that your cat can still get around.

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Implement a regular exercise and play routine

Another method to deter your dog from eating cat poop is to implement a regular exercise and play routine. Dogs that are physically tired and mentally stimulated are less likely to engage in unwanted behavior.

Interactive play, long walks, and other physical activities can help use up your dog’s excess energy and reduce their interest in exploring the litter box. Incorporating puzzle toys or feeder toys into their daily routine can also keep them mentally stimulated.

Maintain regular veterinary check-ups

Ensure that your dog undergoes regular health check-ups. This is crucial not just for overall health monitoring, but it could also identify potential medical issues that might be causing your dog’s unusual interest in cat poop.

You should also discuss regular deworming during these veterinary visits.

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Use deterrent sprays

Consider using deterrent sprays around the litter box area.

Some people have recommended putting hot sauce or black pepper on your cat’s poop to teach your dog once and for all not to eat it. However, we think a pet-safe no-chew spray is a kinder and safer option.

These sprays have scents, such as citronella, that dogs find unpleasant. This discourages them from lingering around the litter box. However, be careful that the smell is not so strong or unpleasant that it deters the cat from using the litter box in the first place. It’s best to only spray it when you see your dog start nosing around the area.

Behavioral training assistance

If the issue continues despite these measures, consider seeking professional assistance. A dog behaviorist or a professional dog trainer might provide further insights into why your dog is attracted to cat poop, and suggest tailored strategies based on your dog’s specific behavior and needs.

Dog Trainer Brandon McMillan teaches his MasterClass

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