May 15, 2010 "Ask Seth"

My two dogs eat the feces from the cat's box. I heard this means their diet is deficient. Is this true? What can I do?



Hi. I have a problem with my two dogs getting into my cat’s litter box and eating the feces. I was told by many people that they do this because something is missing from their diet. Is this true? What does this mean? It’s disgusting, and I gather that it can’t be good for them. Any suggestions? I’ve been trying to break them from this and so far it’s working, but I don’t know what they do when I’m not around. Please help!!


S. McIntire

This is one that comes up all the time. Humans find this behavior gross, while the dog finds it as a tasty treat. Some people think that this is a sign of nutritional deficiency, but this behavior occurs in even the best nourished dogs. It is best to stop this behavior by making it difficult for the dogs to get into the cat’s litter box. The most successful way to do this is to place the litter box higher than the dog can access. Cats will not mind jumping to get to the box, but the dogs will not have the ability. Personally, I have placed the cat box in the laundry room and installed a door that has horizontal slats in it. I removed 3-4 of the slats from the bottom of the door so only the cat can squeeze through. This kept the 4 dogs out of the litter box for more than 10 years. If these do not work, make a maze litter box. This is accomplished by covering the litter box with a cardboard box with an opening at one end, then putting a larger box over that one with an opening in the other end. The cat can navigate this maze in the dark with no problem. If your cat is an inside-outside cat you should have all your animals’ stools check regularly for parasites. Good luck. If these do not work, speak with your veterinarian about other options that may be available.


Seth Mayersohn, CVT


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