All dogs have some level of prey drive. While that urge to kill is higher in some dogs than others, it's ingrained in your pup. Typically, that prey drive isn't going to affect you or your dog's everyday life. You may have to watch your dog chase after a bird every once in a while. In most cases, they won't even catch it.
But what happens when they do?
It's more common than you think for dogs to eat birds. Whether they snatch it out the air or they find the ravaged leftovers of some other animal, no dog is going to be able to resist taking a bite.
There are certain risks to be cognisant of. That bird your dog munched on was once a living creature that could have possibly carried some diseases.
Here are some repercussions your dog could face and what you should do about them.
- Garbage Gut
In the best-case scenario, your dog will experience nothing more than garbage gut. Medically, this condition is referred to as gastroenteritis. It's akin to food poisoning in humans.
Basically, the bacteria and toxic organisms on the bird are wreaking havoc on your pup's gastrointestinal system.
The good news is that symptoms usually subside within a day or two. Your pup will experience tons of discomfort in the meantime, but it's not as dangerous as some other potential problems.
Usually, dogs with garbage gut will experience severe diarrhea that may or may not be accompanied by vomiting. You may also notice behavioral changes in your dog as they go through this episode.
They'll appear to be lethargic and weak. Chances are, they won't attempt to eat until the problem is resolved.
What You Should Do
While this is the most benign of the potential issues that come after eating a bird, you still need to treat it seriously. Garbage gut can take a turn for the worst pretty quickly. Your dog may go into shock.
In severe cases of garbage gut, those toxins can enter the bloodstream and cause Avian flu.
Also, there's the matter of physical obstructions in your dog's systems. Feathers are not digestible, so there's always the risk of internal injury.
It's recommended that you take your dog to the vet. They may induce vomiting in an attempt to get rid of the bird. Your vet may also provide antibiotics, fluids, and anything else your pup needs as they recover.
- Avian Flu
Avian Flu is rare in dogs. However, they're not immune. In fact, studies found that canines have a high risk of getting the flu from the H5N1 strain.
As we mentioned earlier, Avian Flu can be a direct byproduct of garbage gut. Once the bacteria enter the bloodstream, the flu will immediately take hold.
Dogs can also get Avian Flu by eating bird droppings. Whatever the case may be, it's serious. Symptoms include labored breathing, reddening eyes, and a persistent cough.
What You Should Do
A trip to the vet is crucial. Avian Flu has the potential to be fatal for dogs. The earlier you get veterinary help, the better the prognosis.
Salmonella is a serious issue that doesn't just affect dogs. Outbreaks of the illness have caused lasting health problems and death. It's usually caused by eating raw bird meat, which would fit the criteria after your dog chows down on a bird.
Dogs who eat an infected bird are at a significantly higher risk of experiencing it.
The biggest issue with salmonella is that it acts fast. Their intestines can become inflamed and the blood can be infected. The latter outcome leads to septic fever and future spread.
Salmonella is also quite contagious. If you have young children or elderly folks in the home with a compromised immune system, you must quarantine your dog and seek help immediately.
The symptoms of Salmonella are quite varied. In the early stages, it may seem that your dog simply has a fever. Dehydration, lethargy, and shock are all common. As the disease progresses, you might notice swollen lymph nodes, mucus in their stool, and a rapid heart rate.
What You Should Do
Time is of the essence when it comes to Salmonella. To help your dog and keep everyone around you protected, visit an emergency vet. Treatment will depend on severity.
At the very least, fluids will be provided. If the blood has already been infected, the vet may recommend a transfusion as well.
- West Nile virus
The chances of your dog coming down with West Nile Virus after eating a bird is relatively low. However, it has happened before. Typically, the virus infects animals and people through a mosquito bite.
Because mosquitos bite birds frequently, there's a chance that the bird your dog ate had the virus already. This increases the chances of infection.
West Nile Virus is a neurological disease that causes the brain to swell up. It can be fatal without treatment. Pay close attention to your dog's behavior. Erratic movements, muscle spasms, and lameness are serious signs of a potential problem.
What You Should Do
If you suspect that the bird your dog ate could have West Nile Virus, go to the vet as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, there is not a known cure for this disease. The best thing the vet will be able to do is provide medications to alleviate pain
If you find your dog with feathers in their mouth, you need to take the steps to ensure that nothing serious will happen. In most cases, you will have nothing to worry about. However, it's better to be safe than sorry.
To prevent possible issues in the future, work with a trainer. You can teach your dog commands to grab his attention and pull him away from any bird feasts.
If you find a dead bird, do not touch it with your bare hands. Always use protection and sanitize the area thoroughly. Your dog is still at risk just by being near it. Call your local animal control for proper disposal to be safe.
Also Read: Can Dogs Eat Grapefruit?