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How do we stop our dog from eating cat feces?

Our female dog likes to dine from our cat's litter box. We hate this, and we know it is not good for our dog to ingest litter either. Is there a product that we can put in the cat's food that will keep the dog from eating the feces? Thanks for your help.

Your question concerns a very common problem. As disgusting as this habit is to us humans, dogs think that cat feces are quite the treat. Because some of the cat's diet is not digested completely and the feces typically give off a strong odor, it is understandable that a dog would try them. In a very few cases dogs will do this to supplement a dietary deficiency. However, in most situations affected dogs have well-balanced diets and have no clinically identifiable disease process that would drive this behavior. Although this habit does not usually cause any problems with dogs, it would be a good idea to have your veterinarian check your dog for intestinal parasites every six to 12 months.

If you have a dog that likes to greet you nose to nose, I can understand yet another reason why you don't find this behavior acceptable. Although adding monosodium glutamate or certain other food additives to the cat's food in order to make the stool disagreeable to the dog is often recommended, in my experience I have not found this approach to be a very effective deterrent to this behavior. The best way to stop this is to prevent the dog from having access to the litter box. You can do this by creating some type of barrier that the dog can't get around. Or you could elevate the litter box higher than the dog can reach. If your dog is bigger than the standard-sized "cat door," you might consider installing one in the door of the room with the litter box. (Be sure, however, that your cat will actually use the cat door.) A final but slightly more expensive option is invisible electronic fencing wires placed in the home to keep the dog from accessing the designated areas. The dog would have to wear a special collar with this system.

I hope that you find this information helpful.