It is a dog’s nature to hunt small prey such as rabbits. Some dogs will only catch the animal, kill it or let it be. Other dogs would go ahead and devour their prey partly or to the bone.
So what happens if a dog eats rabbit?
In most cases, no harm comes to the dog because the rabbit is just another source of protein for them. Some brands of kibble use rabbit meat as part of their ingredients. Wild rabbit meat is also tasty since the herbivore relies on natural vegetation for food.
It is also possible for a dog to get sick after consuming rabbit meat. This will happen if the rabbit meat has parasites or is infected with diseases. If this happens, you should rush the dog to a vet for immediate treatment.
Why should I be worried if my dog eats rabbit?
A rabbit that is harboring parasites or disease will likely pass them on to the dog during feeding. Some of the parasites and diseases to be aware of include;
Fleas and ticks
Tapeworms are flat segmented worms that are white. If a dog eats rabbit meat infected with tapeworms, these worms will transfer to the dog and infect his digestive tract. The parasites latch onto the walls of the intestines and feed off the host.
A dog that is infested with tapeworms will have the following symptoms;
Swollen abdomen due to bloating
Tapeworm infection is diagnosed by examining the feces of an infected dog. If a dog’s fecal matter contains white rice-like segments (tapeworm larva) they test positive for the parasite. Tapeworms also cause anal irritation and will cause your dog to scratch or drag his lower body on the floor for relief.
Rabbits are affected by a bacterium called tularensis bacteria. This bacterium is what causes rabbit fever. Dogs can only contract this bacteria from consuming infected rabbit meat. Rabbit fever or tularemia can easily be passed to humans as well.
A dog suffering from tularemia will exhibit the following symptoms;
Discharge in the eyes
Swollen and painful lymph nodes
3. Fleas and ticks
Wild rabbits carry a lot of fleas and ticks. These parasites easily transfer to your dog’s coat as they feed on the meat. It won’t be long before your dog starts to scratch and bite at its fur. Fleas are known to harbor tapeworm eggs as well. These eggs when ingested will hatch in the intestines and travel into the bloodstream as larvae. Besides fleas, ticks, also carry the tularensis bacteria which can cause rabbit fever in your dog.
Apart from excessive scratching, you can also tell if our dog has ticks or fleas if;
Their gums are pale
Have hairless patches on their coat
The skin forms scabs from excessive scratching
You notice flea dirt on your dog’s coat.
Dogs can catch rabies from the blood or saliva of an infected rabbit. Some of the symptoms of rabies include;
Hind leg paralysis
Loss of appetite
Poor body coordination
Foaming in the mouth
Rabies is a deadly but rare disease. If your dog is up to date with their vaccines, you should never worry about them catching rabies.
Not all dogs are swift enough to catch and kill a wild rabbit. But any dog, large or small, can bump into rabbit droppings. Rabbits eat and defecate a lot and they do it just about anywhere. Since the droppings are in the form of tiny pellets, your pup can gobble a few quickly without you noticing.
What can happen if your dog eats rabbit poop?
Fortunately, rabbit droppings cannot cause any harm to your dog’s health when ingested. Ironically, some animal experts encourage pet lovers to let their dogs feed on rabbit poo. This is because rabbit pellets contain bits of undigested hay and grass which act as fiber that helps your dog’s digestive system.
💡 Fun Fact
Rabbit droppings and urine contain plenty of vitamin B12 which can directly benefit your dog.
Some dogs will develop an allergic reaction to rabbit droppings. This is because the pellets serve as a ‘new diet’ that can irritate your dog’s digestive tract. There is also the fear of a dog contracting coccidia from consuming rabbit droppings. Though this disease is rampant in rabbits there is a minimal chance for a dog to contract the ailment.
If your dog ate rabbit droppings, your only worry is if it will upset his tummy. If it does not, then there is nothing to worry about. Ensure you check your dog for fleas and ticks that may be lurking in the droppings.
If your dog ate a rabbit, first check for any signs of discomfort. Take your dog to a vet to have a checkup as well. If no symptoms show up in the first few days, your dog is fine. If your dog is suspected to have ingested a parasite in rabbit meat, your vet will prescribe over-the-counter medication to clear any infections.
The best way to stop a dog from eating a rabbit is through redirection training. Professional trainers recommend doggy treats as the perfect lure to redirect a dog’s attention. Some dogs have a high prey drive and will require repeated training to successfully redirect their attention. Another safe and easy option is to control your dog’s movement with a leash.
Not all dogs will run after a rabbit when they see one. Yet, there are those dog breeds with a strong hunting instinct that will likely chase and kill a wild rabbit. These breeds include the Basset hound, Beagle, Jack Russell Terrier, and Dachshund.