My Dog Ate Cat Litter-What Should I Do?

dog eating cat litterI know, I know. It’s gross. But your dog is in good company. Eating cat and, well, actually any other animal poop is not uncommon. And there are almost as many reasons as there are kinds of poop that dogs will eat. But that’s a subject for another post.

But the cat poop’s already out of the bag or I should say litter box. You know your dog has already been snacking. Now you want to know what to do. Okay, first things first.

My dog ate cat litter, what do I do?

The first step is an obvious one. Find a way to prevent your dog from having access to the litter box. You have a few options:

  1. Add a small enough kitty door that fits your cat but not your dog that goes to a room where you keep the litter box.
  2. If that’s too expensive or not doable, then try putting up a baby gate that your cat can jump over but your dog can’t.
  3. Put the litter box somewhere up high where your dog can’t jump but is comfortable and easily accessible to your cat.
  4. What we did was get a covered litter box and face the opening toward a corner of two walls (kitty-corner (no pun intended)) close enough where Finn could get in but our dogs couldn’t.

Is it dangerous for dogs to eat kitty litter?

Even though the ingredients in cat litter aren’t supposed to be toxic, if your dog eats enough kitty litter, it can cause an obstruction or constipation. Signs to watch out for are vomiting, reluctance to eat, loss of appetite, lethargy, or straining to poop.

Because all kitty litter has liquid-absorbing properties it can cause irritation and inflammation to your dog’s intestines. But the clumping types of cat litter are the most dangerous. If your dog eats enough clumping litter, clumps can form in the stomach and intestines, creating a blockage.

If your dog is small, even a little bit of kitty litter can be cause for concern. Call your vet right away. If your dog is larger and the amount eaten is moderate, then it’s safe to just keep a watch on your dog for the next 24 hours and if you see any kind of discomfort and anything less than completely normal pooping, get your dog to your vet asap.

Why do dogs eat poop/cat litter?

Dogs are scavengers and opportunistic eaters. Because there is still a fair amount of protein and/or undigested bits of food, it’s actually survival-positive for dogs to eat poop. Usually, dogs aren’t specifically going after the cat litter- they’re interested in the cat poop. If they happen to eat some litter with it, that’s just the price of the cat poop in their eyes.

If your dog eats any kind of poop any chance it gets, it’s possible they’re suffering from a mineral deficiency. There is also the potential downside for picking up unwanted pathogens or parasites. So you should talk to your vet about getting some blood work done.

What will my Vet do?

If after calling your vet (s)he has any concerns, they will want you to bring your dog in for a physical exam. They might also recommend further tests to screen for any underlying issues.

They will likely want to take a blood test to look for markers of infection and inflammation, as well as at your dog’s liver and kidney function and protein levels. They may ask that you also bring a fecal sample to check for parasites and bacteria.

If your dog is showing signs of stress, your vet may recommend that you leave your dog overnight for monitoring and intravenous fluids. Additional tests or diagnostic imaging could also be recommended to rule out other health conditions.

Will my dog be OK?

In the majority of cases, dogs are just fine after snacking on cat poop. But very occasionally a harmful pathogen or parasite could be consumed. If your dog does become sick then seeking prompt treatment usually ensures he recovers well.

Although less common, eating cat poop could trigger a food allergy. That’s because food substances that your dog is allergic to may be present in a partially-digested form in the cat poop, and could cause a flare-up of their symptoms.

Will you be OK?

Most of my dogs over the years have been cat poop aficionados. Only Graidy, my border collie mix, was an equal opportunity poop eater. He’d scarf down any kind of dropping from any animal. I know, TMI. But, I bring this up again to reiterate that this is normal for many dogs to do. That doesn’t mean that it won’t make your stomach do flips every time you witness it, but it’s not worth making yourself nuts over.

Sure, there are all kinds of products out there that you can spray on poops to make them less tasty–and I tried a few–but they don’t really work.

At the end of the day, prevention is where it’s at. Get rid of the poop you can or at least make it less accessible. And take a deep breath and let go of the rest. You’ll be happier for it. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.

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