Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop?

And how you can keep them out of the cat’s litter box.


You can stop your dog from eating cat poop by not letting him near the litter box. Sorry, but it’s as simple as that. Studies show that dogs who like to eat poop are going to eat poop, if they have access.

Mostly, cat poop is not going to harm your dog, but the litter that goes with it could. Clumping litters are extremely dangerous as they will expand inside the dog’s stomach. And other litters, although nearly always deemed “non-toxic,” may have crystals or scented flakes that could make your dog ill. A few pieces may not be a problem, but a consistent habit could bring you a big veterinary bill, especially if he gets an intestinal blockage.

Move the litter box to a place your dog cannot access it by using cat doors or a baby gate to prevent the dog from getting to the box. Some people place the litter box in the basement. Others sacrifice a bathroom cabinet with a small access hole in it that the dog can’t use. A simple method is a baby gate that the cat can easily leap to access his box in one room. Most dogs won’t jump the gate.

Medication Doesn’t Stop Poop Eating

Fortunately, not all dogs eat poop, but enough of them do for manufacturers to develop products to deter them. Save your money.

A 2008 study by researcher Broox Boze determined that available medications and poop treatments to stop dogs from eating poop are not effective, although the younger the dog, the better your chance the medication may help. According to Boze, the only reliable recourse is human intervention. Keep your dog away from the poop (or litter box).

A 2018 study published in Veterinary Medicine and Science from Dr. Benjamin Hart tried 11 different products designed to stop poop eating and found none were effective. In tabulating the results from their study, the researchers determined that most dogs who eat poop are greedy eaters, a behavior that is difficult to change, and that age of the dog has nothing to do with it. You may be relieved to learn, however, that most dogs ate fresh stools, which were defined as no more than two days old.

Why Dogs Eat Cat Poop

Cat poop may be especially, well, tasty, because cats are often fed a high protein/low fiber diet—they are, after all, obligate carnivores—and, according to a 2013 study in PLOS ONE, that results in poop with a high protein content. Protein will attract your dog, especially the one who really loves to eat, umm, whatever.

Dr. Hart’s researchers hypothesized that dogs eat poop due to an ancestral behavior designed to keep the wolf den clean and free from parasites, so it may be due to an instinctual drive to clean up the litter box and help keep your home clean.

Of course, dogs don’t just eat cat poop. They also eat horse poop, wild animal poop, and even their own poop and that of their friends and not just at home. There are a lot of other theories floating around with no consensus beyond keeping your dog away from poop.

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Cindy Foley is the editor of Cornell DogWatch and Cornell CatWatch. She has competed in dog agility for over 17 years with her Papillons. A member of the Syracuse Obedience Training Club, she is currently doing agility with Aries, who has his AKC MACH and PACH titles, and Twisty, who is just beginning her agility career. A lifelong horsewoman, Cindy was a founding editor of Horse Journal and an assistant editor at The Chronicle of the Horse.


  1. Why do you assume that the dog is eating the cat poop only from a liter box? We don’t have a cat. But my dog will find it as we are out on a walk. Gourmet treat that he grabs so fast and we can’t even see it until he gotten it. Yuck!