There are many benefits of owning a cat or dog and it becomes more exciting when they are getting along well. From reducing stress to being great companions, reduction of loneliness, and making the home lively. To reap these benefits, the owner is tasked with ensuring he creates an environment convenient for both of them. Despite the bond the pets might have, some aspects still require each of the pets to have their meantime.
Cat’s dislike it, when dogs come close to their litter boxes or loiter around them whether the cats are carrying on with their business or they, have already finished. Most of the dogs, on the other hand, are strongly attracted to a cat’s litter box. This dilemma then forces the owner to consider ways to keep the dog out of the litter box.
Is it bad for a dog to go to the litter box?
While cats use litter boxes for their elimination, dogs do not require one as they eliminate anywhere in an open space. Unlike dogs, cats are very emotional and value their privacy, and having a dog pass by when they are pooping or a dog vising their litter box, can take a toll on them.
We have seen cats completely stop using the litter box as they associate it with negative attitudes simply because a dog visited their litter box. This leads to taking more tedious and difficult precautions and sometimes costly measures to ensure the cat gets back to using the litter box again.
Why do dogs try to go to a litter box?
One reason why dogs will raid a cat’s litter box is that they are bored. Most breeds of dogs are meant to be work dogs meaning they should have something to occupy their time. When they find they have nothing to do, they will most probably try to keep themselves busy. Being in the litter box excites them as they have no way of burning their energy. It is worse for dog owners who are busy the whole day and have no children to keep the dog occupied.
They like the smell of the litter box
From a dog’s perspective, a cat’s poop smells just like cat food and this may be one reason why a dog might be inclined to hang around the litter. Dogs enjoy both the smell and taste of cat food and will indulge in it whenever they have an opportunity.
They want to eat cat poop
The behavior of eating poop is called coprophagia. The thought of eating cat poop sounds disgusting to the owner but it is perfectly normal for canines. This is because dogs are scavengers in nature and they can eat anything they find from garbage, both dead and alive animals as well as poop. It is therefore not abnormal to find a dog feasting on a cat’s poop despite having a loving home where he is provided good food.
Puppies just like babies are inclined to eat anything they find in the environment whether it is a source of nutrients or not. While most puppies outgrow this habit some still take up this behavior when they are grown up and it becomes difficult for them to stop once in adulthood.
The digestive system of felines is relatively short and does not absorb all the nutrients from the food they consume. Their poop may contain undigested nutrients which may be attractive to dogs.
When a dog eats a cat’s poop it could also be a sign of nutritional deficiency. This calls for switching the current dog’s food to food that is higher in protein or fiber to ensure they get the nutrients they may be lacking.
What can you do to keep the dog out of the litter box?
Most dogs if left alone, will not leave the litter box alone and this forces the pet owner to take initiatives that will keep the cat away from the litter box. Such measures include;
Covering the litter box
Having a covered litter box will keep the dogs away and also have a look and smell that is friendly to us. This solution is more effective when you are dealing with an adult dog as the small dogs can still pop their heads or tongues for a quick rummage through the small space left for the cat’s entry and exit. Before taking this solution, the adult dog owner should also consider the cat’s preference. Most cats prefer an easy entry and exit kind of litter box and do not like a confined setup for their bathrooms. It makes them very uncomfortable as they feel trapped and may cause stress to your feline. If your solution of keeping the dog away is causing stress to the feline, then the whole situation is not effective as it may lead to the cat abandoning the litter box altogether.
Try dog training techniques
Techniques such as the “leave it” command have proven to be very effective when you are trying to teach any dog. The key to ensuring this command works is to give the dog a treat as a way of motivating him to leave the poop or any other object behind the dog’s attention. This reinforces the commands and shows the dog how they should act at all times.
This training may take from few days to weeks for the dog to get it right. It is only effective when you are around and cannot guarantee the dogs will leave the litter box alone when you are out of sight.
Placing the litter box in a room with restricted access to the dog
To keep the dog away, you can keep the litter box in a room where only the cat can access. This could be the laundry room, closet, or bathroom. The door must be set in a way that the cat can enter the room without relying on you to open it but also ensure that the dog is kept away.
Using door straps and latch is one of the ways this can be achieved. It leaves a small gap that is big enough for your cat to access the room while being too small for your dog and the door easily opens as required.
A door chain that is long enough to let the cat in but too short that it keeps the dog out of the room is also a good way to restrict a dog’s access to a room where the litter box has been kept. Both of the methods only require you to drill and install the chain or straps and do not involve cutting through the door.
Give your dog other distractions
One of the reasons why dogs will try to access a cat’s litter box is boredom or for attention. If after observing your dog you realize this is the reason your dog is doing it, try to distract him by giving him healthier distractions. Peanut butter is a good distraction as it will keep the dog smacking his tongue for a long period. If your dog likes puzzles then, this is also a good option to keep them occupied and forget about the litter box.
Installing a pet gate
A pet or baby gate is used to block access to the litter box except for the cat who will be using it. This is quite useful when you do not have a whole room to set aside for the cat’s litter box. If you have a puppy in the house, ensure the height of the pet gate is in such a way that the puppy cannot jump over it.
In the case of older cats, who are not able to jump, the gate should be set up a few inches off the floor leaving a space for the cat to crawl under but space should be too small for the dog to crawl.
Installing a pet gate is one of the costliest and complicated options for keeping a dog out of the litter box. The hassle of figuring out a chosen pet gate works is another headache. Before you embark on this option, the pet owner must be willing to put in all the work and costs involved.
Keep the litter box clean
The main reason why dogs visit a cat’s litter box is due to their poop. Keeping the litter box clean will take away the dog’s “treat” and the cat will have no reason for paying a visit to the litter box. This can be done by scooping the poop from the litter box daily and washing the litter box while changing the litter often. If you are not able to scoop the poop right away, try investing in an electronic cat litter box which is fixed with a device that sweeps the poop shortly after the cat uses it.
Fitting your dog with a muzzle
This should be the last option after all the other options have failed. Muzzling your dog physically prevents him from eating a cat’s poop and will therefore have no business going to the litter box. You shouldn’t use the same type of muzzles used for aggressive dogs. You can get elastic bands from your local pet store. The same type of band is used for preventing a dog from snapping at other pets or as a prevention measure to ensure dogs do not consume what they are not supposed to consume. This might not work well for puppies but is good for adult dogs.
Frequently asked questions
Why don’t dogs use litter boxes?
Cats have a natural impulse of burying their waste and hiding their scents from enemies and prey which makes them good at using a litter box. Dogs, on the other hand, are known to hunt in packs and have no impulse of burying their waste. Instead, they prefer to leave scents as a way of marking their territories. Therefore, there is more value in leaving the poop uncovered as opposed to covering it as it spreads the scent. Also, most dogs are bigger which means they eliminate more waste and this might overwhelm the capacity of the litter boxes. Furthermore, it could be difficult to accommodate the large size of a dog in a litter box.
Cat dogs get sick from eating cat poop?
While most dogs do not get sick, there is a potential risk to dogs when they eat cat poop. Cats may not show any signs of illness but their poop may contain bacteria and parasites which may not sit well with the canines. Toxoplasmosis is a common bacterial infection that is carried by cats and is pretty harmful to the dog. In case a dog shows signs of illness after consuming a cat’s poop, you should visit a veterinarian for treatment.
Is there a dog-proof litter box?
Yes. There are a variety of dog-proof litter boxes available at your local pet store or from Amazon. These litter boxes have customized features that keep the dog away. They include; having a door at the top, the presence of a door or a cover, dome-shaped litter boxes, and self-cleaning litter boxes that get rid of poop as soon as the cat eliminates. There are also DIY ways of making a litter dog proof which is more affordable and can be customized by using materials available in the garage or your local pet store.
For anyone with a cat and a dog in their home, their greatest joy is seeing them coexist perfectly. While this bond reduces rivalry in the home, you should be careful to ensure that both animals retain their natural traits. Some of this Is depicted by cats using a litter box while dogs do not need them. Keeping a dog away from a litter box does not only prevent the dog from contracting diseases due to consuming cat’s poop but also goes a long way in fostering a better home environment for both the cat and the dog.