There are few things more disgusting than receiving a big slobbery kiss from your dog only to realize they recently helped themselves to a litter box snack. It’s likely this common but annoying habit has had you Googling answers furiously looking for help. So, what’s up with this unsavory behavior and how can you keep your dog out of the litter box?
You’re in luck! The team at West Park Animal Hospital is here to help.
Dogs and Litter Box Behavior
When your dog raids the litter box, they’re exhibiting normal dog behavior. This can be a relief (there’s probably nothing wrong medically) but also a disappointment (can’t a simple pill fix this?).
Dogs are omnivores and amazing scavengers in the wild. They gobble up anything they can get their, er, paws on. So the short answer as to why your dog raids the litter box is simply because it’s there and they can.
Most likely, the situation began as a simple investigation. However, as soon as they realize there’s the potential for a yummy snack in there, this behavior quickly becomes routine. When you think about it, if one of your dog’s favorite treats is cat food, then it stands to reason that a cat box delicacy comes in at a very close second.
Is This Bad for My Dog?
For the most part, litter box snacking doesn’t pose much of a health risk to most dogs. Some vomit or have diarrhea while others are fine. Keep in mind, however, that cats may have parasites in their stool that may be transferable to dogs (and humans). Lastly, if your dog ingests a large amount of litter along with their snack, it could cause gastrointestinal upset or blockage (this doesn’t happen often but it bears mentioning).
Ways to Keep Your Dog Out of the Litter Box
It’s nearly impossible to train your dog out of this bad habit since every time they score a snack from the litter box, the behavior is strongly reinforced. You could try scooping the box immediately after a deposit is made, but unless you’re superhuman, this probably isn’t a realistic goal. Instead, let’s look at more attainable ways to keep your dog out of the litter box.
Cat door — Keep the litter box in a cat-only room, and install either a cat door or a cathole.
Baby gate — Many people use baby gates to separate their dog from the litter box. Most cats have no trouble navigating it, but then again, neither do some dogs, so you may need to look for specific models. Another option is to install the gate a few inches off the floor so it’s high enough for your cat to get underneath, but low enough to prevent your dog from going under.
Door chain — Some owners install a door chain that offers a narrow opening to the litter box room that’s big enough for your cat to squeeze through but not your dog.
Covered litter box — There are some good options on the market for top entry covered litter boxes, but make sure to introduce this slowly to your cat. Some cats reject them, as they may be too small and cause your cat to feel claustrophobic. If your cat has asthma, they’re not recommended.
Hopefully this has provided some helpful information to keep your dog out of the litter box. If you know of other effective ideas or if you have any questions, please give us a call. We’d love to hear from you!
So, what’s up with this unsavory behavior and how can you keep your dog out of the litter box?
The post Eww, Fido Did What? How to Keep Your Dog Out of the Litter Box appeared first on West Park Animal Hospital Blog.