Bird poop is everywhere. On the sidewalk, in the park, and also in our backyards! It’s not rare for a dog to stumble upon bird poo and taste it out of curiosity.
Knowing how nasty bird poop can be, you might be wondering if it is poisonous to your dog. There is no simple way to answer this question. In some cases, dogs can be affected by bird poo, and in others, it is completely harmless to them. In a few instances, just inhaling the bird poo can also trigger harmful effects. But most often, eating it will pose no threat to your dog.
What are the chances that there will be a side effect? More importantly, how will you figure out if there is a problem, and what should you do next? This article will answer all your questions and more!
Side Effects of Eating Bird Poop
The thing is:
The effects of eating bird poop are mainly dependant on the type of bird that produced it. If it is a house bird, there is no risk at all. Pet birds are usually vaccinated, free of infections, and rather healthy. Therefore, their poop is free of viruses.
If the bird droppings were outside your home, there is a possibility of minor to major health problems. Problems can arise when the bird itself was infected or sick. Such birds’ poo is also a source of bacteria. In case the droppings did come from an infected bird, your dog could get affected by salmonella, giardia, histoplasmosis, and coccidia. However, it may take a few days for these problems to show up.
Similarly, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy are also possible side effects that may take a week or so to present themselves.
The good thing is:
Most healthy dogs have a strong immune system that can fight back bacteria. However, in puppies or dogs with a weakend immune system, the infection may win out.
The list of possible side effects from eating bird poop is not a long one. A shorter list means that the problems are easier to identify and treat accordingly. Your dog will only become sick if a particular virus affects dogs as well as birds. Certain viruses and bacteria can only thrive in specific animals. For instance, according to the USGS, dogs can contract the West Nile virus by being bitten by an infected mosquito, but they cannot acquire the virus by eating an infected bird.
Why Do Dogs Eat Poop? (Video)
Symptoms and Red Flags
The most important aspect of this entire scenario is to be aware of the symptoms. Since bird poop doesn’t always make dogs sick, most owners tend to ignore it. Moreover, the symptoms don’t usually become visible instantly. As previously mentioned, you have to stay cautious for at least seven days. Look out for these symptoms and red flags so that you can get your dog treated as soon as possible.
Histoplasmosis is the most dangerous infection out of all the possibilities. This medical condition will make your dog lethargic. The color of the dog’s eyes and gums will appear different. The most common symptoms are cough and shortness of breath, but pet parents sometimes dismiss them since they aren’t very unusual signs.
As for coccidia, the symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, and general pain in the abdominal area. The signs aren’t obvious, so it is hard to figure out if the dog is suffering from coccidia. If your dog eats bird poop and then you notice vomiting and diarrhea within a few days, schedule diagnostic tests immediately.
In the case of giardia and salmonella, the symptoms are pretty similar. Fatigue, nausea, cramps, loss of appetite, gas, and bloody stools are all red flags.
You should always note changes in your dog’s energy or behavior. No matter how small the change may be, follow up on it with your veterinarian. The dog may not have an infection, but there is still a chance of sickness.
What to do if Your Dog Ate Bird Poop
Now that your dog has eaten bird droppings and you’re also noticing symptoms, you’ll probably be in panic mode. If this happens, here’s what to do:
Of course, the first step is to schedule a visit with your veterinarian or any nearby, trustworthy vet clinic. The professionals will conduct relevant tests to diagnose the problem. Your dog will probably have to take doses of antibiotics to fight against the bacteria.
Other than what the vet does, you can also help the situation. Dog food with probiotics will boost your dog’s immune system so that it can fight against bad bacteria. Feeding your dog a well-balanced, nutritional diet will keep its immune system in good shape. Keep the dog hydrated. Vomiting and diarrhea can dehydrate your dog; therefore, regular water intake is important.
Do not self-medicate. Stay away from DIY remedies and over-the-counter medicines. You should only use medications if prescribed by your veterinarian.
How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Bird Droppings
For whatever reason, dogs love doing gross things. They’ll eat anything out of curiosity. To keep your dog from eating bird droppings, you’ll have to do some training.
There can be many reasons behind a dog’s interest in poop. Sometimes it is stress, other times it is boredom, but mostly it is just their curious nature. It’s almost impossible to eliminate all the opportunities your dog will have to indulge in eating poop.
All that you can do is train your dog to leave it. Then, keep the dog under supervision in places where it may find bird poo. Whenever you think the dog is about to inhale or ingest bird droppings or any other harmful thing, the leave-it command can be your best friend. While beyond the scope of this article, leave-it teaches your dog that if he forgoes that piece of poop, a better reward is coming.
Keep your dog on the leash when you’re visiting risky areas. Even if the place isn’t risky, there is bird poo everywhere, even in spots where you wouldn’t have imagined! Preferably use a short leash so that you can keep an eye on what your dog is grazing.
To further minimize the chance of your dog’s interaction with bird poop, you can take these preventative measures. If you have a house bird, preferably keep it in a place that your dog cannot reach. If you cannot do that, use a cage skirt. Use an extra layer under the cage that will catch all the droppings. The less bird poop that falls on the floor, the lower the risk of your dog eating it.
Whether the poop is coming from your pet bird or from outside, keep the floors clean. Wherever your dog can roam, you should wipe clean regularly. The porch and balcony are the places with the most bird poo. Don’t just sweep them, but also disinfect these places once every few weeks.
Try not to attract wild birds to your home. Bird feeders and birdbaths are a definite no. But, if you still want them in your garden, then don’t allow your dog to go into that area. Plus, don’t take your dog to places where you know there are a lot of birds. Lakes, farms, and parks are all risky areas. When your dog visits such locations, be near the dog at all times to give the leave-it command.
What to do if a dog eats a bird?
It is best to keep your dog as far away from birds as possible. Usually, a dog is only able to eat a bird when it’s already dead. They cannot hunt a healthy, flying bird. In such a case, there is a risk of Salmonella infection. Diarrhea is also likely. Although it isn’t fatal, you should consult with your vet.
Can dogs get giardia from bird poop?
Yes, there is a possibility that this might happen. If the bird is infected with giardia, its poop would be a source of transfer. The infection can transfer through ingestion as well as with contact. Sometimes, just the inhalation can already put your dog at risk.
Can dogs get sick from eating dead animals?
Quite a few problems are attached to the eating of dead animals. Dogs can develop a sickness called Botulism if they eat raw meat or dead animals. If the dead animal was infected, there is an even bigger risk.
Why is my dog eating poop all of a sudden?
It is not uncommon for dogs to eat their own or other animal’s waste. The two most common causes are boredom and stress. When a dog is not getting entertained, needs attention, or is left alone for too long, it can begin to eat poop. Stress is another contributing factor to this bad habit.