Dogs are curious creatures and often explore their surroundings with their nose and mouth. They are also notorious for eating bizarre things, including cigarette butts, sticks, and diapers.
So don’t freak out if you find your dog wolfing on rabbit poop, especially if your area is home to wild rabbits. The gross habit of eating poop is very common to dogs and rarely causes a serious illness.
There are several reasons why your dog finds bunny poop a tempting snack. This article looks at the root causes of this unpleasant behavior, what you can expect if your dog eats rabbit poop, when you should reach out to your vet, and how to stop it.
Why Do Dogs Eat Rabbit Poop?
Dogs find poop interesting, especially that of other animals. This weird habit is known as coprophagia. Your dog is more likely to eat poop from sheep, rabbits, deer, and calves.
Dogs derive nutrients from poop, including essential bacteria (probiotics) and prebiotic fiber for their digestive health.
Most dogs, including other animals, engage in geophagia (eating dirt) and coprophagia. Some species like rabbits engage in refection, where the animal eats its semi-digested poop (cecotropes) to extract more nutrients.
There are several reasons for your dog’s rabbit-poop-eating behavior, and we’ve outlined them in detail below.
Canines are curious creatures and tend to explore their sense of smell and taste. Poop contains a cocktail of aromas that dogs find irresistible, considering their noses are sensitive and can pick up various scents.
According to the Frontiers in Veterinary Science, a dog can detect odors from 10,000 to 100,000 times more than the average human. They also have a mouth-smelling organ known as the Jacobsen’s, which picks up undetectable scents. So, your dog will no doubt eat less appealing and unhealthy things like rabbit poop even before you can stop him.
If your dog has pica, they will often consume inedible items because of medical issues or compulsive disorders. Pica usually develops because of medical conditions such as anemia, liver disease, thyroid malfunction, Cushing’s syndrome, intestinal infection, and parasites or behavioral issues.
Common triggers for pica include:
- Fear of punishment
- Learned punishment
The good news is that pica can be managed and prevented by taking these measures:
- Provide plenty of puzzles and games to reduce boredom
- Ensure your dog gets sufficient exercise and mental stimulation.
- Soft chew toys can help to distract your dog so buy a variety.
- Eliminate access to inedible items your dog likes to eat.
If the problem persists, seek your vet’s assistance.
Some nutritional deficiencies in your dog can trigger a compulsive habit of eating strange things to obtain these nutrients. For instance, rabbit poop is rich in B-complex vitamins, digestive enzymes, and fiber. If your pup consumes rabbit poop often, their nutrition may be amiss, especially the fiber and complex B vitamins.
Basic instincts drive canines, and one of these is hunger. If your pup is starving, it will eat anything that smells edible, including rabbit poop.
Going for a walk before your furry friend has had his meal will fuel his desire to munch on anything. Also, if your pup enjoys the taste of rabbit poop, it will crave and hunt more for the droppings as his midday snack.
Can Rabbit Poop Make My Dog Sick?
Rabbit poop comprises digested green plants, grass, and vegetables seasoned with bacteria, intestinal mucus, and rabbit fur. All these components are generally not toxic to your dog. The risk of digestive upset and infection is also low but possible.
So, in most cases, small quantities of rabbit poop will not hurt your dog. But knowing this, you won’t want your pup to lick your face. Because, well, gross!
However, rabbit droppings can harbor parasites and worms that can give your dog a tummy upset. And if your dog has pre-existing health conditions or a sensitive tummy, you should be worried. While most dogs can get away with munching on rabbit poop, some may develop severe gastro issues causing vomiting, abdominal pain, dehydration, and diarrhea.
Also, parasites and germs in infected rabbit poop like giardia and coccidia can find their way to you through your dog.
Thus you need to be careful with your health and hygiene and keep your dog away from the poop. For instance, dogs that munch on rabbit poop are often found to excrete a parasite called coccidia. Although harmless to your dog, they can pass on to you.
Also, rabbits harbor ticks and fleas, including some that may spread bubonic plague or tularemia. So you’ll want to supervise Fido while he’s roaming in the yard to prevent him from eating rabbit poop. You can also regularly use preventive tick and flea medication on your dog.
What Happens If My Dog Eats Rabbit Poop?
Rabbit droppings can contain nasty germs that can upset your canine’s tummy. You might see your pup vomiting, eating less, and experiencing diarrhea. This is more likely if they have a sensitive stomach or other illnesses like pancreatitis. Most tummy upsets from eating rabbit poop are short-lived; within a few days, your furry companion will feel okay.
But parasites and bugs in rabbit poop can cause serious health problems, including chronic diarrhea that can last for weeks. Remember that these infections are “zoonotic,” meaning they can pass over to people if proper hygiene is not maintained.
My Dog Ate Rabbit Poop. What Should I Do?
If your dog has eaten rabbit feces, you can take these steps to safeguard their health.
1. Secure your dog
Get your dog away from the area with rabbit poop to ensure no more is ingested. Your dog will likely resist this, but if possible, try to remove any droppings in Fido’s mouth safely.
2. Estimate How Much Has Been Consumed
Although it might be difficult, try to work out roughly how much rabbit pop your dog might have eaten and the time. Find out if your furry friend has consumed pet rabbit poop or wild rabbit poop.
3. Phone Your Vet
Your vet will advise you whether to bring your dog to the clinic or manage the situation at home. But a health check-up is necessary if your dog shows worrying symptoms or has pre-existing health conditions.
4. Adhere To Your Vet’s Advice
Monitor your dog closely for the next 24 hours. If any symptoms of illness develop and persist, call your vet for advice.
If your dog has a mild tummy upset, you can offer a bland diet (plain rice and boiled chicken). As long as your pup is active and eating reasonably, there should be no cause for alarm. But if your dog is struggling with diarrhea and vomiting and hasn’t eaten within 24 hours or more, we recommend you seek professional vet care.
Treatment For Rabbit Poop Toxicity
If Fido is under the weather and not eating, your vet will recommend supportive and symptomatic care to relieve stomach upset and reduce vomiting. If your dog is dehydrated, they may need intravenous fluids to rehydrate them and short-term hospitalization to monitor their condition.
If your dog is extremely ill, your veterinarian could advise imaging (x-ray or ultrasound) and blood testing for worms, giardia, and salmonella. These are more intensive therapies that only apply if your dog has other pre-existing conditions, which can worsen the illnesses.
The vast majority of infections from rabbit poop are treatable and manageable, but we cannot rule out the importance of an accurate diagnosis.
Will My Dog Be Fine?
The prognosis for recovery if your dog eats rabbit poop is good. Most canines will completely recover within a week. Even those with underlying health conditions are likely to recover. But, they’ll need a vet’s accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Related: Help! My Dog Ate a Rabbit
Tips To Stop Your Dog From Eating Rabbit Droppings
1. Get A Muzzle
If rabbit poop eating is a regular habit, you can consider using a basket muzzle on him to be sure what is getting into his mouth. This is crucial, especially if munching rabbit poop makes your dog unwell.
But first, you must train your dog to accept the muzzle. You can coat it with peanut butter and use it for a few hours. This gives them the freedom to breathe easily but not eat anything you don’t want them to while out and about.
2. Teach Commands
Behavior training is also a good option. It allows you to train your dog using commands like “drop” or “leave it”. Reward your dog for good behavior when it leaves the poop, following your command. With time your dog will walk away from anything they shouldn’t eat without fussing.
3. Check Out The Area
If you stay in the countryside and your yard is home to rabbits, you might need to inspect the yard and get rid of rabbit droppings before letting your dog out.
4. Secure Your Yard
Although it’s difficult to exclude rabbits from your home, it is possible. Place solid barriers around your property and remove food sources.
Also, seal any hiding spots and eliminate brush piles, which are rabbits’ entry points. Moreover, map out the routes that are likely to have rabbit poop and avoid them when going for a walk with Fido.
5. Consult A Canine Behaviorist If You Suspect Pica
If you suspect your canine’s rabbit poop-eating habit is because of pica, discuss it with your vet to rule out other health problems and contact a canine behaviorist to manage the issue.
6. Provide A Complete Diet
Find a good quality dog food balanced with the essential nutrients for your pup. Also, introduce your dog to a more filling food, mainly if your diet consists of only dry kibble or wet food. Try some dog-safe raw foods, lean meats, and supplements with probiotics.
When your dog gets all the essential nutrients, he’s less likely to reach for bunny poop.
7. Mask The Taste
If you catch your pet eating rabbit poop, you can place something with a horrid taste on the rabbit droppings to break the habit. For instance, you could use hot sauce, vinegar, or citrus fruits, but make sure whatever you use is not toxic to your canine.
Another good option is OTC coprophagia deterrents or a citronella training collar that can remotely emit citronella spray to curb your dog’s urge to eat poop. Your pup will associate the horrible taste and smell with bunny poop and avoid it altogether.
8. Offer Plenty Of Distraction
Aside from clearing your yard of rabbit poop, you can distract your canine with puzzles and games that offer physical and mental stimulation. When your dog is busy having fun, they are less likely to look for rabbit poop.
Can Dogs Catch Salmonella From Bunny Poop?
Rabbits, like dogs, can be carriers of salmonella no matter their health status. There’s also the risk that salmonella can be passed out through rabbit poop. Salmonella can cause long-term diarrhea in dogs.
Is Rabbit Poop Toxic To Dogs?
On the contrary, rabbit poop seldom makes dogs sick, although it can carry parasites and bacteria. However, if your dog has underlying health issues, it can suffer severe symptoms such as prolonged diarrhea, fever, and vomiting.
Can Dogs Catch Giardia From Rabbit Droppings?
Giardia is a protozoan parasite. It usually thrives in a rabbit’s gut and rarely causes health issues. Although rare, rabbit poop can pass on giardia, which causes prolonged diarrhea and gut irritation in dogs.
Dogs have the irresistible urge to eat some of the grossest things, including rabbit poop. Luckily, rabbit poop will not harm your furry companion unless they have a pre-existing health issue. In most cases, your pup will have a tummy upset, which can last a few days but if their symptoms are severe, seek veterinary intervention.
Rabbit poop can also carry salmonella, worms, and giardia, which can affect people too. So ensure your hygiene is tops! You want to discourage your furry friend from eating these “yard treats” at all costs.
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