You feed your beloved pooch the finest dog food and treats, but still catch him snacking in the cat litter box, much to your disgust. As horrifying as it is, cat feces are actually loved by most dogs, according to veterinarian Marty Becker. Dogs who consume cat waste are placing their health at risk because the feces can contain the E. coli bacteria and toxoplasmosis parasite. It's vital to take immediate steps to prevent Fido from gaining access to the litter box.
Up, Up and Away
Elevating the litter box will keep it out of Fido's reach while allowing Kitty to access it with her natural climbing skills. Place the box on a sturdy table or pedestal. If your cat is older, or suffers from health or mobility problems, he might find it difficult to climb up and down several times each day to relieve himself and start eliminating outside the litter box. To assist the cat, place one or two carpeted cat trees near the litter box to make reaching the litter box easier for him. Avoid placing the litter box on a table in the kitchen, or anywhere near where food is prepared or consumed.
Gate the Waste
Another way to block Fido's ability to reach the litter box is to protect it with a baby gate. Select a room in your home for the litter box and install a hinged baby gate in the doorway. Good choices include a spare bedroom, bathroom or basement. If your pooch is larger than the cat, raise the gate around 1 foot off the ground to provide Kitty with plenty of space to slip underneath while keeping Fido out. If your pup is a small breed and tiny enough to fit under the gate, install the baby gate at its normal height but put a stool, box or chair on the other side so the cat can safely jump over it and have a landing spot.
Cover Kitty's Business
If your dog is bigger than Kitty, you can use a covered litter box. Covered litter boxes provide a large enough opening for felines while keeping most pooches out. Place the cover on the litter box and turn the opening toward a corner of the room or wall. Leave enough space between the box and wall to allow the cat to slip in and out, but not Fido. If the litter box opening faces the room, many dogs are still able to stick their paws or heads inside. Avoid using a covered litter box if your cat suffers from bronchitis, asthma or other lung conditions. If your cat is on the large size, she might not fit comfortably inside a covered litter box.
Scoop the Poop
With Fido's keen sense of smell, he might be able to track down the litter box no matter how cleverly you conceal it. For that reason, scoop out his preferred snack from the litter box several times each day so the box becomes less appealing to him. While your schedule might not permit you to always remove waste after your cat does his business, try to scoop out as much as possible during each day. Cat litter crystals, baking soda and clumping cat litter are also effective at absorbing and controlling waste odors. Another option is an automatic litter box, which does a thorough job of cleaning itself and eradicating odors.
- Cornell University: Why Do Dogs Eat Feces
- VetInfo: Prevent Your Dog From Eating Waste From Litter Boxes
- VetStreet: Help! My Dog is Eating From the Litterbox
- University of California School of Veterinary Medicine: Coprophagia
- The Huffington Post: When the Litter Box Becomes Your Dog's All-You-Can-Eat Buffet
- Photo Credit Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images