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Why is My Dog Eating Cat Litter?

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Let's face it: Some dogs will eat anything—including and not limited to cat poop. Why do dogs eat cat litter?

If you have ever seen this phenomenon before, then you probably realise how strange it is.

Many pet parents ask themselves this question every time their dog appears to be eating the cat's litter box contents.

There are several reasons why dogs start this habit and even more factors that make them stop.

Dogs eat cat litter or any other type of litter for several reasons. Also, dog owners should know that those who feed their dog anything other than dog food, such as table scraps or leftovers, are more likely to see their furbaby eating cat litter.

Lacking in Nutrients

Many dog breeds are known for eating the contents of the litter box or its litter. Some studies have shown that dogs eat cat litter probably because they lack some nutrients and minerals that dog food has.

Eating cat poop carries the potential for your dog to contract harmful bacteria and parasites.

Some of these bacteria found in cat litter can be transferred to people.


Dogs eating cat litter are commonly referred to as pica, and it mainly affects dog breeds that were initially used for hunting like the terrier breeds.

Also, dog breeds with a tendency for eating anything, like Labrador retrievers, are more likely to eat cat litter if fed table scraps or any other type of food that isn't dog food.

Many pet parents have asked themselves this question. It is a common problem and can affect all dog breeds, whether big or small, old or young.

While dogs are most likely not eating the cat litter so much as they are licking it up when trying to get at cat feces, it can still have serious consequences.

Wild Dogs

In the wild, dogs will eat just about anything they can find to eat. This includes their feces because it is a good source of protein that can be easily digested.

When a dog eats cat litter, it is because they see it as another source of protein and, in their minds, it is an easy way to get it.

Harmful to Dogs

If you think your dog is eating cat litter, the first thing you should do is take them to their veterinarian.

If the litter in question is a clumping variety, this can cause severe gastrointestinal issues or constipation because it cannot be properly digested.

If your dog has tracked litter through the house, they may have ingested some of it on their paws.

If there is any concern that they might have consumed any, do not wait to get them checked.

Preventing Your Dogs from Eating Cat Litter

Dogs love cat litter! It's one of the many things that they find appealing about cats. Cat litter, however, can be dangerous to dogs.

It's essential for owners of both cats and dogs to know the risks involved in letting a dog eat cat litter and how they can prevent their pets from doing so.

If your furbaby is eating cat litter, you should move the litter box or use baby gates or a cat door.

You can also positively train your dog to "leave it."

Obstructive Bowel Disease

So, why is it bad for your dog to eat cat litter? The answer lies not in what's actually in the cat litter itself but what's not.

Cat litter is designed to be very absorbent. This helps mask odours and make things cleaner for the cats that use it.

Unfortunately, this can lead to a condition called "obstructive bowel disease." This occurs when tiny little pieces of cat litter get stuck in a dog's intestinal tract.

Eventually, this can lead to an obstruction and the need for veterinary surgery.


If your dog eats cat litter, you will probably notice the symptoms right away. This is because it can cause a blockage in their intestines.

Signs you might see include vomiting, a lack of appetite, and abdominal pain. If your dog does eat cat litter, you should take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

If you suspect your dog is eating the litter because of their current diet or because they are hungry, try to supplement his diet with low-calorie treats or consider changing their diet to a premium quality diet.

If their diet is fine, check with your veterinarian if any medical problems could be causing your dog to eat cat litter.

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