My Dog Ate Rabbit Poop. Now What?
It happens so quickly: One moment your dog is sniffing some grass, and the next he's eating rabbit poop like there's no tomorrow. What gives?
If you're a dog owner and live in an area with lots of wild rabbits, chances are high your dog will eventually encounter rabbit poop. Rabbits eat continuously throughout the day, so they also tend to poo frequently.
- Why do dogs eat rabbit poop? We'll discuss that here.
- Will it make them sick? Probably not, but we will see what veterinarians have to say.
- How can I stop them? We'll discuss the "leave it and drop it" command.
What Makes Rabbit Poop Irresistible?
Most dogs are naturally drawn to rabbit poop. They'll gulp down those pellets really fast.
Rabbits produce two types of poop. The most common type is the fecal pellet type. For the most part, these pellets are undigested hay and grasses. They have no odor, are round and dark brown in color. This is the type of rabbit feces that a dog is most likely to find and eat.
Then there are cecotropes, which rabbits produce at night with the intent to eat them again for nutrition. This "feces" resembles a bunch of grapes pressed together and has quite a distinct odor. Note the word "feces" in quotation marks. That's because cecatropes aren't really feces, but actually nutrient-packed digestive items, according to scientist Dana Krempels. Because they are so easily ingested by bunnies, cecatropes usually aren't left around long enough for a dog to time them.
My Dog Ate Rabbit Pellets. Should I Be Worried?
Most people who live in the country aren't much concerned about their dogs eating the occasional rabbit poop pellet and accept it as a normal part of their dog's behavior. However, here is what veterinarians say about the risk of worms or other diseases.
Some dogs get an upset stomach after any change in their diet. Eating too many rabbit pellets can cause the same discomfort for a dog who isn't used to them.
- If this happens to your dog you will notice signs of nausea or stomach pain. These include loss of appetite, vomiting, drooling, and lethargy.
If your dog remains lethargic for more than a few hours, still refuses food, and/or vomits any blood, take them to the vet right away.
What About Parasites?
It's a myth that dogs can get tapeworm from eating rabbit poop. According to animal care experts, tapeworm can only establish in a dog's body if the dog eats the actual rabbit.It's not unusual for dogs who eat rabbit poop to also eat any dead rabbits found on the property if they are let outdoors unsupervised.Another factor to consider is that dogs more commonly get tapeworms from eating infected fleas. So if there are fleas in your dog's environment, they can be the cause for your dog's tapeworm infestation.
- However, if you are concerned, it may be helpful to know that the passage of tapeworm segments in dogs who eat rodents or rabbits can be seen in the dog's feces between six to eight weeks after consumption.
Other types of parasites, including coccidia, giardia, and cryptosporidia, can affect animals. However, these parasites are "species specific," according to veterinarians, and should not cause any symptoms in either dogs or cats.
"Rabbit form of coccidia is not the same type of coccidia that can affect dogs, and it just simply passes through the dogs body, explains veterinarian Dr. Ivana Vukasinovic. Coccidia may be present in the dog's stools during a fecal flotation test, but this doesn't mean that the dog is infected or that the coccidia from the rabbit are reproducing in the dog. Dogs may get coccidia by swallowing contaminated soil, water or foods contaminated with coccidia oocysts.
Are There Any Benefits?
Yes, actually. Rabbit poop comes loaded with nutrients. It is mostly undigested hay, so it is a great source of fiber.
"Rabbit poop is one of the richest sources not only of digestive enzymes, but also B vitamins," says veterinarian Karen Becker. "Dogs on entirely processed, dry-food diets, who eat no living foods at all, will intentionally seek out other sources of digestive enzymes to make up for their own lifelong enzyme deficiency."
How Can I Stop This Behavior?
Normally the leave it and drop it command works wonders to stop a dog in his tracks from eating something potentially dangerous, but it takes a really sharp eye to catch a dog before he wolfs down those small pellets!
Teaching the Drop it Command
This article is fruit of my research and should not to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice.