Puppies are quirky and mischievous. They’re adorable love to explore, chew, and sniff every inch of their surroundings. Unfortunately, that also includes eating disgusting things like cat poop. But why do they do such a thing, how bad is it for them, and what can you do to stop this going forward. Let’s find out!
So, why does my puppy eat cat poop? The likely reason that your puppy is eating cat poop is that they have developed a liking for the taste. They will have been initially enticed due to the smell or during periods of boredom. Alternatively, it could be that your puppy is missing important nutrients in their diet and is looking to obtain them.
Even though it’s usually not something to worry about, it is undoubtedly a disgusting habit.
Especially if your puppy loves to lick your face.
And we all know how often they like to do that!
Finding out the underlying cause is essential to stop this behavior for good.
So let’s get into them!
And then, we will look at what you can proactively do.
So stick around. You’ll be pleased you did.
Reasons Why Puppies May Eat Cat Poop?
The main two reasons why puppies eat cat poop are behavioral or health-related. They might discover it has a nice taste or eats out of boredom. They may be lacking an essential nutrient in their diet that they can find in cat poop.
Figuring out which reason it is, whether its behavior or health-based, can take some time. And some observation.
But, once you find out the cause, you’ll know the best way to prevent your puppy from eating cat poop.
Dogs’ noses are incredibly sensitive to smells. And they love to taste test strong-smelling things hence why some dogs love rummaging in garbage.
Cat food, and their feces, are just other strong-smelling things.
From there, a liking of the taste develops, and a dog, or puppy, will want to keep eating it. It may start out from curiosity, boredom, or something they learn from their mother.
When mothering dogs clean their pups, they lick and ingest fecal matter too. So, young puppies learn that eating poop (regardless of the origin) isn’t unusual behavior.
Coprophagia (poop eating habit) might happen due to traumatic memory. If a puppy accidentally pooped where they shouldn’t have, they may have yelled at.
The fear of this happening again causes them to eat their poops to prevent punishment. And doing so, they acquire a taste for all fecal matter, including cats.
It is rare that there’s a health issue causing your puppy to eat poop. But unfortunately, the possibility still exists.
The most common health reason is a deficiency in their diet. Cat food is high in protein, and puppies can smell that in cat poop.
If a puppy is lacking in nutrients in its own diet, it’ll look elsewhere for it, including feline feces.
Malnutrition is usually caused by a homemade dog diet. Or using dog food not nutritionally balanced.
If your puppy is suffering from intestinal issues, they can develop a coprophagic habit. Poor absorption, or the presence of intestinal parasites, can cause your puppy to develop this habit.
And if they have a hormonal or endocrine imbalance, this might be the reason for their cat poop eating habit.
Can My Dog Get Sick from Eating Cat Poop?
It is possible for your dog to get sick from eating cat poop. If your cat is ill or on medication, it’ll have knock-on effects on your dog. Additionally, consuming a lot of cat litter can wreak havoc on your dog’s digestive system.
Although most dogs can handle cat poop and its bacteria, your dog can still get sick from eating cat feces.
Even if the cat isn’t showing any symptoms of illness doesn’t mean they are completely healthy. They can be carriers for parasites and bacteria which stay behind in their stool.
A dog eating an infected cat’s feces will more likely become symptomatic. And depending on the infection, they can pass it on to humans. For instance, salmonella and toxoplasmosis.
Toxoplasmosis is the most common parasite cats leave in their stool. And it can be harmful to dogs and humans hence why health experts discourage pregnant women from dealing with cat feces.
In humans, toxoplasmosis may display as a flu-like illness. In dogs, it can have the same effect causing severe dehydration and loss of appetite. And includes vomiting and diarrhea, which will worsen their dehydration.
More severe symptoms include weight loss, inflammation of the eyes, and tremors. If you suspect your dog has toxoplasmosis, it’s important to get them checked out by a vet.
Parasitic worms such as ringworm and hookworm can pass to dogs through feces. They cause similar symptoms to toxoplasmosis but can be prevented.
Giving your dog anti-worming medicine will help ease worries of them contracting worms. If your cat is an outdoor cat, it’s a good idea to have them on preventatives too.
And speaking of medicines, if your cat is on medication, it can leave behind residue in their poop. If your dog ingests it, they could experience harmful side effects of the medication.
Another way your dog can become sick from cat poop is from the litter box itself. The litter can attach itself to the feces in lumps.
And if your dog ingests it in large amounts, it can cause digestive issues and blockages.
Regularly check your dog for bowel movements to find out if there’s a potential blockage or not.
Do Puppies Grow Out Of Eating Cat Poop?
Puppies like to get their noses into everything around them. With cat poop and feces in general, they will grow out of it eventually. Unless they’ve developed a coprophagic habit, they will naturally stop eating cat poop.
It’s important to understand that puppies are curious, active creatures. They need to learn and understand everything that takes their interest.
It might be odd that your puppy is chewing and eating odd items like rocks and garbage. But it’s a natural process as they learn to discern what’s tasty and safe to eat and what’s dangerous.
Infant puppies are born without the all-important good bacteria in their digestive tract. This is crucial for them to properly process food.
And the quickest way to get those necessary bacteria is eating feces, including cat poop. Once they have a good bacteria base, they will stop eating feces.
That is if they haven’t already developed a poop-eating habit. If this is the case, then you’ll need to train this out of them.
How Can I Get My Puppy to Stop Eating Cat Poop?
The best way to get your puppy to stop eating cat poop is to deny them access to it in the first place. If this isn’t possible, use positive reinforcement to curb this habit.
The first step to stopping your puppy’s coprophagic habit is to place the cat’s litter box outside of their reach.
You can place it at a high level where your cat can still get to it but is high enough that your puppy can’t. This has the bonus effect of giving your cat more privacy from the dog when they use the litter box.
If placing the litter box up high isn’t an option, investing in some fencing like baby gates is the next option.
Just make sure the gates you choose allow your cat through the bars. But prevents your puppy from getting close to the box.
Another idea is to buy a covered litter box for your cat. Their design prevents dogs from getting access to the litter inside. Or a self-cleaning litter box, although these can scare cats.
The other option to stop your puppy from eating cat feces is to train them with a ‘Leave It’ command.
This is a great option as it will help discourage your puppy from eating all types of feces. And deters them from eating any poop they find outdoors.
Whenever you see your puppy hovering around the cat’s litter box, call their name and say ‘leave it’ in a firm tone.
When they listen, reward them with a treat and/or praise. If they ignore you, say it again but louder, so they understand the command.
This will take time as your puppy learns to correct themself, so consistency is key.
If your puppy is still eating cat poop, check that all their dietary needs are being met in their food. And introduce supplements when needed.
You can also try to make the poop as undesirable as possible. There are stool deterrents designed to deter dogs from eating it.
An unconventional method is adding black pepper or hot sauce on top of the feces. Dogs dislike spice, so they will steer clear of it.
Puppies always seem hungry. But eating cat poop; is certainly a step too far!
While Coprophagia is normal in puppies, thankfully, this is something they usually grow out of.
But in the meantime, if your pup has a cat poop-eating habit, there are many steps you can take to stop this habit in its tracks.
And you’re going to want to.
Otherwise, it may result in the eating of anything and everything; and there appears to be no limit to what a puppy may try!
Have other questions about your puppy’s eating? Well, my following guides may be of help:
- Why Does My Puppy Eat Mud?
- Why Does My Puppy Eat Sticks?
- Why Does My Puppy Eat Stones?
- Why Does My Puppy Eat Leaves?
- Why Does My Puppy Not Eat In The Morning?
- Why Does My Puppy Always Seem Hungry?
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.