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My Dog Ate Rabbit Poop. Now What?

Updated on March 19, 2017
alexadry profile image

Adrienne Farricelli is a former veterinary hospital assistant and now a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, and author of dog books.

When dogs find a pile of rabbit pellets they usually can't resist eating it. For most dogs this won't present a health problem.
When dogs find a pile of rabbit pellets they usually can't resist eating it. For most dogs this won't present a health problem.

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?

Probably not.

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.

  • 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 effect animals. However, these parasites are "species specific," according to veterinarians, and should not cause any symptoms in either dogs or cats.

"It would not be likely for a rabbit-origin coccidia to cause problems in dogs," says veterinarian Michael Richards. "It is possible for dogs to ingest the rabbit feces and coccidia organisms within them and for those organisms to show up in a fecal examination done on the dog's stools."

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

Disclaimer

This article is fruit of my research and should not to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice.

Did your dog ever get sick from eating rabbit poop?

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    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 days ago from USA

      Yes, dogs can get tapeworms from rabbits, but more than from the poop, my sources say it's likely from consuming the rabbit or parts of the rabbit. Another way to get tapeworm is from ingesting an infected flea which is the most common ways dogs get it. http://research.vet.upenn.edu/Default.aspx?TabId=7...

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      Jackie 4 days ago

      ITS NOT IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOUR DOG TO GET WORMS FROM EATING BUNNY POOP!!!! It's happened to my dogs three times. Watch for white, miniature, rice like parasites in your dogs stool! These are parasites from eating the poop!

    • profile image

      Eberry 8 weeks ago

      My dog who only has free reign when in my huge fenced backyard had worms at her last annual checkup. The vet assistant told me it was from rabbit poop. Now she has a bacterial infection and she was again eating rabbit poop. Our yard is fenced, but the rabbits are able to somehow slip under and there are quite a bit of rabbit pellets in our yard at any given time.... :-(

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      Sophie 2 months ago

      Yes, our dog (14 mo old cocker) eats rabbit droppings and has developed coccidiosis three times in the past few months. My vet would not agree with this article that it is unlikely rabbit coccidia can cause problems in dogs.

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      kAREN 2 months ago

      My dog ate the poop in the late night. I did not know this until the next day when she vomited the pellet like poo. She was a bit lethargic the morning after and did not want food. We withheld to see if she would vomit again. Not until 24 hours later and she had a scrambled egg and a tablespoon of boilded chicken breast. Called vet, suggested we give her pepcid AC or pepto and watch her closely. We are withholding food for another 24 hours. Will let you know

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      beccala 4 months ago

      I have 4 dogs, 2 Papillons and 2 American Eskimo Dogs. They have all been snacking on rabbit poop (unbeknownst to me) Until my 14.5 year old Eskimo became violently ill with HGE and Pancreatitis last weekend. She was hospitalized for 3 nights/3days. The day before she was discharged, my 13 year old Eskimo was "off" and by Tuesday also violently sick, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. He is still in hospital 2 days later and not responding to treatment, getting an ng tube today. He is unable to eat or drink, has not eaten since Monday, and his stomach and esophagus are inflamed. They need to suction the stomach acid out of him. No HGE diagnoses, but suspect pancreatitis and?? colitis I think is what the vet said.

      All of this from silly rabbits???

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      Funny Farm 5 months ago

      If your dog is eating something so quickly that you can't stop him, it is possible that if your dog has gotten sick, that the poo belonged to another kind of animal.....dogs like kitty poo! I have seen some possum poo and some of the possums in live traps poo smells extra foul. I would be more worried about the "other" animal poo.

      * I have a bunny hutch so there's no doubt that my dogs are there selecting a piece or two when I watching. They don't get sick from it. They will eat a few pellet food pieces each week too...none of them get sick from it.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 months ago from USA

      Pat thanks for sharing your comment about your dog who got coccidia from eating rabbit poop, I hope he gets better soon!

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      Pat 7 months ago

      Our grand dog Lincoln has been finding bunny poop - he's like radar to it - nd now he is sick - coccidia - at the vet now as I write this hooked up to an IV

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 9 months ago from USA

      You should find a way to fence your yard so those pesky bunnies stop pestering Lincoln tempting him to eat bunny poop.

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      Emily 9 months ago

      I have a little bunny business called the bunny barn, and my little poodle name Lincoln loves bunny Poop. When ever he can he will eat the Poop, and I'm worried that he will get sick or something bad will happen, also he knows that he shouldn't eat the Poop because when ever he eats it and I say his name he looks at me and pouts

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 10 months ago from USA

      Welcome to the dog eating rabbit poop party club!

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      Sue 10 months ago

      Our Border collie/ Blue heeler mix is also a great fan of the bunny poop feast!

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 12 months ago from USA

      Thanks for sharing the effects rabbit poop seem to have on your dog.

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      Chrissyalbson 12 months ago

      Our chocolate lab is addicted to the rabbit poo buffet in our yard. He gets horrible smelling farts (that put any humans fart to shame), drooling, and if he eats a lot, diarrhea and some vomiting of bile. We thought it was allergies, even tried going to a less ingredient food- less than what he is already on, was also going to bring him in to get checked out, but then did some researching and realized it was probably from the buffet outside. We started watching him and since he doesn't get to eat it anymore, he's back to normal, all symptoms have disappeared. He of course occasionally will sneak one in, then the farting and drooling are back for a day.

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      Jessica 12 months ago

      My 17 week old Chihuahua is IN LOVE with rabbit poop. This year it seems the poop is ALL over the yard. We've had cats for years so I just assumed the cats kept the rabbits away since I hardly seen rabbits in the back yard anymore. But now that we have Pippin, the chihuahua it seems the rabbits have come back. She's still in potty training but so far the rabbit poop hasnt distracted her until after she's done her business. Which I am extremely happy about! I'm trying to get her to stay away from the poop but she does manage to snag a few droppings at least once everytime we go outside, if not that time then the next time she is taken out she does. Sneaky little bugger. Lol I just hope she stays that way and doesn't get sick from it ever. Not that I will let her chow down but it is exrememely had to avoid when you're whole lawn is infested lol its not even a tiny lawn either, so I don't know how they get it everywhere because I haven't seen them!

    • profile image

      Annabelle 14 months ago

      I keep rabbit's out of my dog's yard in the back by feeding them birdseed in the front...

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 16 months ago from USA

      Ony thing that comes to mind is to fence off an area so that it is rabbit proof. I wouldn't use rabbit repellent if it says not safe around pets.

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      Ouida 17 months ago

      Two of my Chihuahuas eat it and have gotten very sick. Vomit with the foul pieces of rabbit pellets now looking like coffee grounds. Vomiting for two days and dehydrated. We are in a drought now and I can even see the pellets now since the grass is so thin and seeing the dirt. We tried the chicken wire on our chain link fence but it rusted and was causing the fence to rust. So husband said no more. Not fair the dogs cannot run in their back yard. Doesn't rabbit repellent products hurt the dogs. They bottles always said not safe around pets and humans. What to do? So many rabbits in suburban Indianapolis. This one Chihuahua has IBD and esphogea and this is dangerous for him. So upset. Tried to teach "leave it" and the treat is too good and I cannot hoover over him all the time. They have a doggie door and free access to they yard. Any other ideas?

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      Christina 17 months ago

      My puppy eats it like crazy, we are having such trouble potty training him because he sees outside as a bunny poo buffet. Right after we got him he had giardiasis, which could have been from the bunny poop of from the puppy place we got him. He also has a rash on his belly (could be elsewhere that we cannot see) and swollen lymph nodes. Could this be from the bunny poo?

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      Donia 19 months ago

      My Doxies scarf it down before I can stop them...it's making my younger one vomit a very disgusting, foul smelling substance. Doesn't affect the older one. I need to find a way to stop them or keep the bunnies from visiting my yard. I don't have anything but grass in the front yard.

    • profile image

      Lori B 20 months ago

      Thanks for the article. My 5 month old miniature daushound has eaten rabbit poop and I was concerned. I know that daushounds we're bred to hunt rabbits so I didn't think the poop could be fatal since they probably used to eat a ton of it.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 20 months ago from USA

      These critters are capable to fit through the smallest places, they even fit through the holes of our chain linked fence, so I would think only a fence with very small holes would offer a permanent solution or maybe not so drastic as to install a new fence but just fence up the bottom so they cannot make their way through? I have heard good things about 1 inch mesh chicken wire slightly buried at the bottom to prevent digging under.

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      Mary 20 months ago

      My dogs have always ate rabbit poop. We have many rabbits in our fenced yard. They have never been sick. I try to stop them from eating it, but they always end up eating some before I can get to them. Any idea's how to keep rabbits out of the yard? They are under our shed and can all get through the fence. I would like to humanly keep them out of the yard if possible.

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      Rob 22 months ago

      The solution is easy as pie, keep your dog away from rabbits poop. fence off an area, keep him inside, build a kennel. I am sure in the long run it's ll be much cheaper than all those vet visits.

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      Julie 22 months ago

      My Shih Tzu likes rabbit poop. He becomes sick and will not eat his food. He throws up yellow liquid (bile?). Doctors have no idea what to do.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 23 months ago from USA

      Sorry to hear your dog got sick from eating rabbit poop. That seems like quite some time for a mild digestive upset if he's been vomiting for 2 days straight . You'll need to consider the risks of him getting dehydrated since he's a small fellow, I would play it safe and see the vet.

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      Margaret 23 months ago

      My 2yr old shih tzu has eaten rabbit poo and has been vomiting cfor 2 days now. Will it sort itself out or is a vet required

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 23 months ago from USA

      Thanks for sharing your story about your dog getting sick from eating rabbit poop. Another good reason not to let them, I hope your dog makes a speedy recovery.

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      Cheryl 23 months ago

      My dog has always eaten bunny poop and finally one dog he got HGE. Was very sick for a few days!!!! I now do juicing for him and I think the bunny poop don't hold the same attraction for him anymore!

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Carolyn, I'm sure cleaning that up wasn't a pleasant task! I hope it happened outdoors. For some dogs with sensitive tummies anything new may not agree with their stomach. I hope she's feeling better.

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      carolyn 2 years ago

      She threw up...shortly after eating the rabbit poop she had 3 I think!

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Rabbit poop can still make some dogs very sick. Fortunately, my dogs like yours have scarfed down those pellets for some time, and so far they're healthy and never gave signs of illness. I guess it depends on how sensitive a dog's stomach is and if the rabbits are healthy. Best regards!

    • ShariBerry profile image

      Sharon Berry 2 years ago from Michigan

      We have lots of rabbits that travel to our bird feeder and then back to their hiding places and our dog has been eating rabbit poop for a couple of years. He has no ill affects from it other than me yelling at him to stop because I think it is gross. You have reassured me that this will not kill him. Thank you.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      That's interesting. Perhaps it's simply the dietary change. Because he used to eat it routinely when you had your pet rabbit, now he's getting an upset tummy since it's every now and then? Something to discuss with your vet.

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      Allison 2 years ago

      I used to have a pet rabbit and my JRT ate her poop all the time with no problems.

      I don't have the rabbit anymore, but there are tons of rabbits that go through my yard. My dog has gotten sick twice in the last month, with major diarrhea and a bit of vomiting. He went to the vet, had a fecal test, blood panel, and x-ray and they could find no problem, but gave me meds for the diarrhea.

      He just ate poop again two days ago and now the diarrhea is back. I can't say for certain if its related, but I do remember seeing him eating rabbit poop a few days before he got sick the first time.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      And make sure Darla that the fence has small enough holes, as we had a chain link fence and those cute bunnies were still able squeeze through even the smallest holes.

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      Darla 2 years ago

      My dog loves it but gets very sick from it. She vomits and then gets diarrhea, we were stumped for awhile thinking it was all sorts of other things. Pepcid seems to help with the vomiting but her diarrhea is just gross. Not to be too gross but it has a very distinct smell like her pancreas is inflamed or something. Time to get a fence!

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      Carol Byrd 2 years ago

      My Shih Tzu ate some rabbit poop and started vomiting up so white foamy stuff from his mouth. Up all night, dry heaving and this white stuff coming out of his mouth. I am very angry and I want to kill that rabbit!

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Hello Stormy Syndrome, in that case I meant odor to us.. I should have specified! Even my dogs are able to track down rabbit poop in no time! They even can smell where the rabbits walk by when sniffing bushes. Gotta love that awesome sense of smell!

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      StormySyndrome 2 years ago from Valdosta, Georgia

      You say Rabbit poo has no odor. I beg to differ. I have 3 dogs, A chihuahua, a Min-pin, and a chiweenie. We will be walking through our normal field and turn around to see my chiweenie doing the "inchy shuffle," grazing on rabbit poo she seems to be more than capable of sniffing out. We have decided to start taking her out only between meals since she has decided to look at it as snack time instead of potty time.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Perhaps put a little fenced area where you keep the bunny and the puppy stays out?

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      Felicia 2 years ago

      I have a puppy and a pet Bunny, my puppy eats the poop every time the bunny is out. I always stop her when i see her doing it but its hard. I hope nothing happens to her.

    • profile image

      Missmolly 2 years ago

      We have bunnies living under our deck and my golden eats the poop by the truck loads. (I do stop him when I catch him but he's pretty much obsessed)

      It's been a few years and he has had no issues:)

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Yikes, thanks for sharing your dog's experience from eating rabbit poop. I am happy to hear he is doing better now. The best option may be to cut grass and fence off the area with chicken wire that have spaces of 1 inch or less.

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      yikes 2 years ago

      Our puppy ate rabbit pellets and likely contracted Giardia from this. He needed to be treated with oral antibiotics due to soft stools with mucous and inappropriate weight gain. He is doing better after treatment although it is difficult to avoid those little pellets.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Kas, thanks for commenting. HGE stands for Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, according to VCA Animal Hospitals:" it can arise from dietary indiscretion (ingesting non-food items or even dramatically different foods than what the dog is accustomed to)" and lists several other potential causes such as immune-mediated disease, toxins, pancreatitis, stress, anxiety, hyperactivity, intestinal parasites, bacteria, poor diet, new treats etc. I wouldn't say rabbit poop is toxic per se' as many dogs eat it for years with no ill effects (In Italy most dogs in the country scavenge on these as if they're pieces of kibble) but some dogs are far more sensitive than others and can develop HGE and pancreatitis on foods other dogs can eat with no ill effects.

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      kas 2 years ago

      i just made a comment but made a mistake its called HGE

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      kas 2 years ago

      yes my dog has eaten bunny poop and its very toxic he about died on me last week. its called ghe so try to find a way not to let them eat it

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      I hope your puppy gets better soon! My puppies also wanted to eat it all the time which is why I was forced to keep them on leash when outdoors until they did great with the leave it command.

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      Jaci 2 years ago

      My 3 1/2 month old puppy has developed quite a taste for rabbit poop and here I am up all night because he has d,iarrhea from hell. I have a pepto mix I gave him and hopefully we are both able to sleep through the night.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Jodi, and who was so quick to say it's harmless? Sounds like you haven't read the article in its entirety. I would say you were the one that was quick to base an opinion. Read under the bad and the ugly where a link to a vet discusses the risks for giardia and other parasites. I never said it was harmless.

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      Jodi 2 years ago

      My dog contracted giardia from eating rabbit poop so I wouldn't be so quick to say it's harmless.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Yes, digestive enzymes and probiotics are very good for dogs on commercial foods. While there are many dog foods who claim to add them, consider that a great percentage of them are lost in the packing /storing process.:(

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      My dogs love that crap (literally)! Ugh. Recently, my older girl had a bout with giardia parasites, likely due to her addiction to it. (She also has been know to hunt bunnies, even grabbing a little one out of his nest. Strong hunt instinct.) Good to know it might be due to the lack of enzymes in their kibble. We sprinkle digestive enzymes on their food. Maybe they need some additional supplementation. Thanks for the awesome info, as always!

    • Edward J. Palumbo profile image

      Edward J. Palumbo 2 years ago from Tualatin, OR

      If there is "contraband" to be found in the brush, my dogs will find it. Thank you for this interesting information!

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Hello billybuc, my dogs are also big chicken poop eaters, and still today they'll occasionally eat the occasional rabbit poop. Fortunately, they never had any problems either.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ours eat chicken poop and show no ill effects...of course, they have been known to eat their own, too, so there you go. :)

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