I have always socialized all my pets, and my dogs and rabbits happily romp around in the backyard.
Yet, I am still horrified when my dogs eat rabbit poop! Why do they do this? Is it safe for them?
Why do Dogs Eat Rabbit Poop?
Rabbit poop is a rich source of nutrients since rabbits are hindgut digesters.
This means that rabbits may excrete droppings that are loaded with unused minerals.
Dogs may eat rabbit poop because of a dietary deficiency or a form of pica (a condition where they eat random items).
If your dog only eats rabbit poop and isn’t bothered with sticks, stones, and bird droppings, then chances are they have a dietary deficiency.
Should your dog eat everything it can chew, then it is pica caused by boredom or attention-seeking behavior.
4 Common Causes for Dogs Eating Rabbit Poop
There are several reasons your dog may like to munch on some nummy rabbit droppings:
Thrill of Finding a Treat
Your dog may enjoy the thrill of finding a little “treat” to chew hidden in the grass.
Dogs may also chew rabbit poop since you have a reaction upon seeing them chew it.
This makes it a game for your dog, and they learn that chewing rabbit poop gets your attention.
Search for Digestive Enzymes
Rabbit poop is rich in digestive enzymes, which can help aid your dog’s digestive processes.
Dogs may eat rabbit poop as a natural kind of self-medication.
In addition to rabbit poop being rich in digestive enzymes, it is also a dense source of minerals and nutrients.
Rabbits tend to pass much of their food through their digestive tract.
At night, rabbits make a special kind of poop known as cecotropes, which is extremely rich in nutrients.
Rabbits will eat their own cecotropes as this is how they regain valuable nutrients.
If a rabbit is out grazing at night and is startled away, they may drop their cecotropes, leaving these as little yummy bites that your dog finds the next day.
Pica and Abnormal Behavior
Dogs can develop a condition known as pica, where they eat all sorts of strange things.
Your dog may eat sand, rocks, wood, and even droppings.
While there may be many reasons why they start doing this, pica can usually indicate a dietary deficiency, boredom, or abnormal tendencies due to being poorly socialized.
5 Ways to Stop Your Dog Eating Rabbit Droppings
Your instinct may be to shout at Fido as he gobbles up some rabbit droppings, but this may not be a solution to the problem of your dog eating rabbit poop.
Instead, try these methods:
Address the Dietary Deficiency
Changing your dog’s food can help them not crave the nutrients of rabbit poop (or other sources such as dirt and bird droppings).
Different types of dog foods each cater to the unique dietary needs of dogs.
If your dog is a puppy, feed them appropriate dry food.
For adult or older dogs, you may need to feed a more nutrient-rich meal or a meal with additional enzymes, probiotics, and minerals.
When your dog has its dietary needs met, it may give up on eating rabbit poop.
Make the Poop Taste Bad
Despite the look and smell, rabbit poop doesn’t taste all that bad to dogs. Your dog may have acquired a taste for rabbit droppings.
It will be up to you to train them to associate droppings with bad taste.
One way to do this is to coat rabbit droppings with something undesirable such as hot sauce or Tabasco sauce.
Allowing your dog to eat the rabbit poop that’s been laced with a bad tasting sauce will recondition them to believe the droppings aren’t a yummy treat after all.
Next time, your dog will think twice before eating rabbit poop.
Retrain Your Dog With Authority
When your dog has been trained in the basic commands of sit and stay, you can move on to “leave it” as a command.
When your dog then tries to eat rabbit poop, you can use the command to tell them not to.
With repetition, your dog will learn that rabbit poop (and any other undesirable snacks) aren’t suitable for eating.
Monitor Your Dog
If your dog is prone to eating rabbit poop at the park, then be sure to keep an eye on them and discourage them from eating rabbit droppings.
You may need to keep your dog on a leash when they are in an area with loads of droppings.
Avoid Poop Areas
Should your dog have a passion for finding and eating rabbit poop, you may need to not take them to parks or areas where you know there are rabbits.
Over time, your dog’s love of rabbit poop will fade.
What to Do if Your Dog Ate Rabbit Poop
The first time my dog grabbed a mouthful of rabbit poop, I freaked out.
I didn’t know if I should rush them to the vet or grab a toothbrush.
This is the appropriate action to take if your dog eats rabbit poop.
Stop Your Dog From Eating More Rabbit Poop
Rabbit poop can cause a negative reaction in dogs, so it is important to limit the amount of poop your dog eats.
When you see them sniffing in the grass and chewing, immediately intervene.
The less rabbit poop your dog eats, the better.
Monitor Your Dog for a Reaction
If you know your dog has eaten rabbit poop, be sure to monitor them for a few days. You may begin to notice signs that everything isn’t okay.
Perhaps your dog will have runny poop, their urine may be darker, or they may even begin to rub their anus (a sure sign of worms).
Should you notice such behavior, then it is a sign your dog has eaten contaminated rabbit poop and they have picked up an infection or parasite load that requires treatment.
Collect Some Rabbit Poop for Analysis
Has your dog had issues after eating rabbit poop in the past?
Be sure to bag a few specimens of the rabbit poop for your vet to analyze. This can help them determine if your dog has ingested anything harmful.
Take Your Dog to the Vet
Finally, if your dog shows signs of reacting negatively to eating the rabbit poop, it may be time to take them to the vet.
Be sure to tell your vet your dog has eaten rabbit poop and explain what symptoms you have noticed since then.
Your dog may have bloody urine from a kidney infection and worms from a stomach and gut infestation.
They may have difficulty pooping as a result of chemicals and bacteria in the rabbit poop that can trigger irritable bowel syndrome.
Diseases Dogs Can Get From Eating Rabbit Droppings
Rabbit droppings aren’t that harmful to dogs. At least not if the rabbit making them is healthy.
When a rabbit is sick, they may pass some bacteria into their stool, which can then end up in your dog.
Your dog can contract tapeworm from rabbit droppings, which can trigger weight loss and a lack of appetite in dogs.
If you have seen your dog eat rabbit poop and they suddenly seem to lose vitality, be sure to get them a specialty dewormer designed to eradicate tapeworm.
Another consideration is that an area where rabbits poop is also an area where rabbits hang out.
Ticks are not uncommon on rabbits, and while fleas are more uncommon in domesticated rabbits, your dog can still pick these up when they pause to munch rabbit poop.
How to Keep Your Rabbits and Your Dogs Healthy
If you’re like me and you have rabbits and dogs, then you need to be extra prepared. I always train my dogs to not eat rabbit droppings.
My yard isn’t that large, so I clean up after my rabbits by using a leaf blower-vac to suction up the round rabbit droppings.
My pets all get regular deworming and vaccinations for the appropriate pet diseases.
Rabbits should be dewormed annually, while dogs can be dewormed as much as every six weeks.
When my pets have been dewormed, I am sure to keep them separated for a few days as my dogs shouldn’t eat rabbit poop after my rabbits have been dewormed and vice versa.
Dogs Eating Rabbit Poop FAQs
What happens when a dog eats rabbit poop?
While most dogs don’t suffer any ill effects from eating rabbit poop, they can suffer diarrhea from the parasites that may be present in rabbit feces.
If these parasites are left untreated, it can cause liver and kidney failure.
Can dogs eat pet rabbit poop?
A dog that eats rabbit poop may not be a welcome sight, but when the rabbit poop in question is your pet rabbit’s, it is at least safe for doggy consumption.
Pet rabbits are usually taken to the vet annually to treat worm infestations or other disease conditions. This means the pet rabbit’s poop is more nutritionally dense, while being free from worms, gut parasites, and other illnesses.
Why would a dog eat rabbit poop?
Dogs may eat rabbit poop out of habit or due to a deficiency in their diet.
Certain minerals and nutrients may be found in poop, and rabbit poop may simply be an opportune snack for your dog.
The Last Words
My pet rabbits and dogs are great friends, but I have to be careful that my dogs don’t munch away on those little ball-shaped rabbit droppings.
While these are usually quite harmless little fiber-rich treats, my dogs have been trained not to eat these.
Your rabbit should have all its vaccinations up to date, and make sure your dog eats a balanced diet that meets all its nutritional requirements.
Rabbit poop is best served as fertilizer for your azaleas and not as a snack to Fido.
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