Our dogs do all sorts of things that are strange to us, but one of the most bizarre and disturbing behaviors is when they eat feces. If you’ve been unfortunate enough to witness your dog eat rabbit feces, you are probably wondering why your dog would do such a thing. As it turns out, there are several reasons.
In this article, we’ll examine the 11 reasons your dog may be eating rabbit poop and how to stop it.
The 11 Possible Reasons Why Dogs Tend to Eat Rabbit Poop
1. Rabbit Poop Tastes Good to Them
This may sound impossible or even disgusting, but your dog might eat rabbit poop because he enjoys the taste. The feces of other animals can contain healthy nutrients that your dog naturally craves, causing him to want to eat them. Still, that does not mean that feces are beneficial for him to eat, so his behavior should be discouraged.
2. Intestinal Parasites
If some unwanted visitors are making themselves at home in your dog’s body, he may begin to exhibit all sorts of strange behaviors. Intestinal parasites such as whipworms, hookworms, or roundworms can disrupt your pet’s eating habits, leaving him little to no nutrients. As a result, your dog may eat rabbit feces to compensate for the nutritional imbalance.
Clinical signs of intestinal parasites will vary depending on which parasite has infected your dog. If you believe your dog has an infestation of intestinal parasites, you must make an appointment with your vet so that your dog can be evaluated and examined for signs of infection.
If your dog is not properly absorbing nutrients from his meals, there is a chance that he has a condition that impedes his ability to process nutrients. When bacteria overwhelm your dog’s digestive system, it can damage the intestines. This includes the absorptive surfaces of your dog’s bowels, leading to poor absorption of nutrients.
The most common clinical signs of malabsorption include chronic diarrhea and significant weight loss. Your dog may also have an increased appetite, which may contribute to eating rabbit feces.
Diabetes is a fairly common canine disorder in which your dog’s body either cannot produce an adequate amount of insulin or cannot respond to insulin appropriately. It is an endocrinological disease, which is why it can have such a heavy impact on your dog’s metabolism. Some signs of diabetes include excessive thirst and urination, weight loss, and lethargy.
Increased appetite is another sign of diabetes. If your dog is eating rabbit poop, he may be doing so out of extreme hunger related to diabetes.
5. Cushing’s Disease
Cushing’s Disease is another complication in which your dog’s hormones are severely affected. This condition occurs when your dog’s adrenal glands produce excess stress hormones. This can lead to high blood pressure, bladder stones, kidney infections, and potentially fatal blood clots. Your dog may also experience an increased appetite, which may cause him to eat feces.
Treatment for this condition requires a vet’s expertise. Medication, radiation, or surgery may be required depending on the cause of your dog’s excessive hormone production.
6. Thyroid Diseases
A thyroid condition may be the cause behind your dog’s strange habit. Hypothyroidism is caused by a lack of thyroid hormones, and hyperthyroidism is caused by the overproduction of thyroid hormones. In either case, your dog’s metabolism is altered, which may lead to strange behaviors such as eating feces.
Other signs of thyroid conditions include a significant change in weight, chronic digestive upset, and a change in thirst and frequency of urination. If you suspect your dog has a thyroid problem, consult your vet to determine the right treatment plan.
7. Steroid Treatment
If your dog is undergoing steroid treatment, it may be to blame for his behavior. Steroid treatment is often used due to its anti-inflammatory abilities. In the short term, there are some side effects that your dog may experience, such as increased hunger, causing him to eat poop.
Other side effects include excessive thirst and urination, lethargy, panting, and nausea. If you notice the side effects, talk to your vet about lowering your dog’s dosage or seeking another treatment option.
Does your dog struggle with anxiety? If so, he may be eating rabbit poop due to his distress. For example, dogs frequently punished for potty accidents may become anxious at the sight of feces on the ground and may eat them to try and hide the mess and avoid punishment. Other times, dogs with separation anxiety may eat feces simply due to extreme stress.
Signs of anxiety in dogs include pacing, trembling, and hypervigilance. You may also notice that your dog’s skin and coat are of unhealthy, and he is constantly licking or scratching himself. He may have lesions on his skin from self-inflicted wounds. The best way to help your dog through his anxiety is to pinpoint the cause of his distress and consult your vet.
9. Your Dog Wants Attention
Sometimes, the cause of your dog’s behavior can be traced back to a single incident when he was a puppy. If there was ever a time when your dog picked up poop in his mouth and ran with it while you chased him to get it out, he might think of this incident as a funny game. As a result, he picks up poop in his mouth whenever he can to engage you in play.
If your dog eats poop and other materials, he may have a condition known as pica. Pica is a common affliction in which dogs frequently eat non-food items. Just chewing the object does not count as pica; your dog must also swallow it.
Items your dog may be inclined to eat include metal, cloth, garbage, rocks, plastic, and feces. This is a very concerning condition that compels your dog to eat items he shouldn’t, significantly putting his health at risk. If you believe your dog has pica, talk to your vet as soon as possible and supervise him.
11. Nutritional Deficiency
If your dog lacks a valuable part of his necessary nutrition, he may eat poop to reclaim lost nutrients. This may occur due to malabsorption or intestinal parasites, as mentioned before, but it may also occur if your dog is fed a poor diet. For instance, according to one study, dogs lacking thiamine in their diets began eating feces to make up the difference. To correct this, consult your vet to determine which nutrients are missing, then find a nutritionally balanced diet for your dog.
Can Dogs Get Sick From Eating Rabbit Poop?
Yes, dogs can get sick from eating feces. It puts your dog at a higher risk for contracting bacteria that the feces may be carrying, such as E. coli, Salmonella, and more. This also increases the chances of parasitic infection, as many parasites transfer from host to host via feces.
How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Poop
Since consuming feces has negative consequences for your dog’s health, it is a behavior that should be discouraged. The first step to preventing your dog from eating rabbit poop is to consult your vet to rule out potential health issues. We listed many health concerns that may cause your dog to eat feces, which have serious ramifications for your dog’s overall health.
If a medical condition is not behind the issue, your dog may be doing so out of habit. You can begin training him to curb this behavior if that is the case. You can use dog chews to try and discourage this behavior or talk to a veterinary behaviorist for help.
Realizing your dog has just eaten poop is never a pleasant experience. In fact, it can be alarming when you consider how many medical complications may be behind this behavior. When you first notice this behavior, visit your vet to brainstorm possible reasons for your dog’s habit. While your dog may be eating poop because he enjoys the taste, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Featured Image Credit: smrm1977, Shutterstock