Delicacy or Danger? What to do if Your Pet Eats Wildlife Poop
Any pet owner who has observed their pet gobbling up deer, rabbit, raccoon, or other wildlife poop knows the particular combination of dismay, disgust, and concern that arises at the sight. Is there something wrong with your pet? Will they get sick? Why would they want to eat poop in the first place?
Diseases and parasites are a real concern If your pet eats wildlife poop. Knowing what to look for, as well as how to keep it from happening in the future, are key to your pet’s safety.
Causes of Coprophagia
The ingestion of poop by an animal, also known as coprophagia, is fairly common in dogs. There are a wide range of possible causes, including:
- Evolution – Dogs are pack animals and cleaning up themselves or the den area by ingesting their own feces is common in wild dogs. This behavior may be a hold over from the days when our dogs’ ancestors lived in the wild.
- Boredom/anxiety – Too much time alone without any outlet for pent up energy can lead to a variety of damaging, destructive, or compulsive behaviors, including coprophagia.
- Health issues – Pancreatic problems, diabetes, Cushing’s disease, parasites, infection, or malabsorption of key nutrients are some of the physical reasons a pet may consume feces.
- Interest – Some dogs simply find poop, especially the poop of other animals, fascinating and tasty.
When a Pet Eats Wildlife Poop
Ingesting a small amount of their own feces on occasion is probably not cause for concern; however, when a pet eats wildlife poop, it can put them at risk for a host of health problems. Consuming feces from geese, ducks, deer, raccoons, rabbits, and other wildlife can lead to:
- Bacteria such as campylobacter, salmonella, and antibiotic-resistant E. coli
- Tularemia (rabbit fever)
- Intestinal parasites such as tapeworm, hookworm, roundworm, and whipworm
- Plague (from rodent feces)
- Intestinal troubles (vomiting, diarrhea, pain, loss of appetite)
Prevention is Key
Preventing your pet from eating wildlife feces comes down to supervision. Keep the following points in mind:
- Always walk your pet on a leash, and don’t allow them to investigate wildlife feces.
- Make your yard less hospitable to wildlife by installing fences, removing wood or debris piles, keeping garbage and compost bins covered, and making sure pet food is kept indoors or in a sealed bin.
- Make sure your pet is protected from parasites year-round and is current on all vaccinations. If your pet doesn’t have a parasite prevention program or if you need to schedule an appointment, please give us a call.
Your pet’s health and safety is our top priority at MountainView Veterinary Hospital. If there’s any way we can assist you in providing the best life for your furry friend, please don’t hesitate to contact us!