Dogs are curious and will gladly chase anything that’s moving. And one of the creatures canines love to chase and hunt is rabbits. Dogs are naturally hunters and scavengers, so they find the experience thrilling and the rabbit meat tasty.
But should dogs eat rabbits? Keep reading to find out what experts say about your dog eating live bunnies.
Can Dogs Eat Rabbits?
Yes, they can. Dogs are domesticated wolves, and although omnivorous, they have a high prey drive, and some breeds have a strong instinct to hunt. Besides, rabbit meat is high in protein, vitamins, and minerals; it is low in sodium and calories. This makes it nutritionally fulfilling for your dog.
Some canines have a high prey drive and tend to hunt for small mammals like rabbits, including:
Is It Safe For Dogs To Eat Rabbits?
Rabbits are a tasty source of protein and generally not toxic to dogs. But there have been cases of illness caused by the consumption of live bunnies.
Such illnesses are due to:
Pet dogs are not accustomed to feeding raw meat because it is likely to contain harmful bacteria like Listeria, salmonella, and E.coli.
Some rabbits are infected with a contagious bacteria known as tularensis, which can be passed to dogs. The bacteria causes a disease known as rabbit fever or tularemia, which can also be transmitted to humans. Symptoms of rabbit fever include stomach pain, high fever, lethargy, poor appetite, and discharge from the eyes.
Most rabbits have tapeworms, and when consumed, these worms can affect your dog. Tapeworms are flat, long, segmented intestinal parasites. They, however, do not cause severe health issues in adult dogs. Occasionally your pup will drag its butt across the floor to ease the irritation around the anus.
You’ll also notice bits of worms around your canine’s butt, on their bedding, or feces. You must have your dog examined by the vet immediately. Your vet may recommend a tapeworm dewormer to prevent further health complications.
Fleas And Ticks
Rabbits carry a lot of fleas and ticks on their fluffy coats. The soft, warm fur is home and food for these ticks and fleas. Fleas are dangerous and health risk because they can easily transfer and carry bacteria from one host to another. Fleas harbor tapeworm eggs while ticks carry tularensis bacteria.
If your dog eats a rabbit that’s infected with rabies, there’s a high likelihood it will also get infected. The fatal virus is transmitted through saliva, blood, and other body fluids. Symptoms include headache, fever, muscle spasms, paralysis, excess salivation, seizures, and mental confusion. Vaccines can prevent infection since there’s no specific treatment for rabies.
Rabbit fleas can also carry Yersinia Pestis, a bacteria which causes the bubonic plague. It is a rare and fatal bacterial infection that requires urgent treatment. Signs include chills, headache, fever, muscle aches, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and death.
Is It Risky For My Dog To Eat A Live Rabbit?
If Fido is healthy and wolfs on a rabbit, there isn’t much to worry about since it’s likely to digest the bunny without experiencing any stomach issues. But if your dog has a sensitive tummy, underlying health conditions, or is eating raw meat for the first time, eating wild rabbits is like high-risk poker.
Your furry friend might suffer from abdominal pains, diarrhea, and vomiting. Some canines can develop allergic reactions to rabbit fur or meat. But unless your dog shows any signs of distress, you shouldn’t worry about their rabbit eating behavior. Most dog foods have rabbit meat for protein.
What If My Dog Eats Rabbit Droppings? Should I Be Concerned?
It’s not unusual for dogs to devour rabbit poop. For most canines, rabbit poop presents no health risk. But if your dog has a sensitive stomach, it may show signs of discomfort.
Bunnies produce two kinds of poop. One is the grape-like droppings known as cecotropes which the rabbit expels at night to eat later for its nutritional benefits. The other type is the pellets that dogs often eat. It is not clear why dogs find rabbit poop irresistible, but one obvious thing is rabbit poop is nutritious. It is rich in digestive enzymes and vitamin B, which canines crave.
However, rabbit poop eating also presents some health risks, including allergic reactions, digestive system distress, and parasitic illnesses (from giardia and coccidia).
What Should I Do If My Dog Ate A Rabbit?
If your dog ate a rabbit, it’s best to monitor it closely for at least 24 hours and note any changes in their health and energy. Also, observe their behavior and stool, and call your vet in case of anything unusual. The vet will run some blood tests to determine the presence of any tapeworms or parasites and administer the appropriate treatment.
You need to be concerned if your dog eats a dead rabbit and seek your vet’s guidance immediately. A dead rabbit can harbor dangerous parasites and infections or could have died from a poison that is now in your pup’s system.
How Can I Stop My Dog from Eating Rabbits?
If your dog has an insatiable habit of hunting and eating rabbits, you might want to manage their behavior to ensure their safety. If you don’t train and restrain your dog, it may end up eating other poisonous animals.
You can use several ways to reduce or control your dog’s prey drive.
Try to mark routes with rabbits during playtime or on your daily walks. If your pup spots a bunny and begins to chase it, do not reprimand or yell at your dog. This could aggravate your furry friend further and even encourage the hunt. Instead, consider distracting your dog to direct his attention away from the rabbit. You can use an engaging activity or keep eye contact with your dog.
If your pup responds well to your attempts to distract him from eating rabbits, offer rewards like treats. You want your dog to associate following your commands with snacks and treats.
Teach your furry friend to listen to your voice and obey your commands. Start training your pup or enroll him in obedience classes while it is still young. Your pup will learn to follow commands, and you’ll also learn how to hold your canine’s attention. Pups who respond quickly and consistently can keep out of trouble in most situations and save their lives in case of danger.
Will My Dog Die After Eating A Rabbit?
Rabbit meat isn’t harmful to dogs and is a tasty protein common in most pet foods. But if the rabbit has parasites, bacteria, or is infected with diseases, these can be passed to your dog and cause illness. You should rush your furry pal to the vet clinic for immediate treatment.
Rabbits are common prey for dogs. They are tasty, rich in protein, and their meat is tender. There is inherently nothing toxic to your dog about rabbit meat.
But if the rabbit is infected with bacteria and parasites, your dog is at risk of suffering from severe illness. You should never encourage your furry friend to eat wild rabbits. The risks of illness-causing pathogens outweigh the benefits of protein and other nutrients.
Alternatively, you can offer your dog store-bought rabbit meat to quench the urge to kill and devour a rabbit.