Can a dog get sick from eating rabbit poop?

Your dog and rabbit get along great. You get Insta worthy photos of them playing together. You’ve essentially hit the cute pet jackpot.

There’s only one problem. Amidst the playing and photo taking, your dog starts munching on rabbit poop. Oops, that won’t be going on your news feed. 

In addition to being grossed out, you are worried. Will your dog get sick from eating rabbit poop? 

Can a dog get sick from eating rabbit poop?

The thought of your dog eating rabbit poop makes you feel sick, but will it harm your pooch? 

Types of Rabbit Poop

There are actually two types of rabbit poop. The kind you, and your dog, will usually encounter is normal poop. This looks like small hard pellets. It’s essentially an indigestible fiber from grass or hay. 

The other type is cecotropes. This type smells horrid, and looks similar to squishy grapes. You won’t see this type very often, because your rabbit eats it. This type of poop contains nutrients your bunny didn’t get into their body the first time around, so they consume them to get these vital nutrients. 

Is Rabbit Poop Dangerous for Dogs? 

Generally, rabbit poop will not harm your dog. The undigested fiber found in the poop will simply pass through their system, usually without any major issues.

However, rabbit poop can contain parasites, which can be passed on to your dog. If this happens, it can make your pooch sick.  

Coccidiosis

Coccidiosis is one parasite that is commonly found in rabbit poop. The good news is this one isn’t harmful to your dog. The type that is found in rabbits will simply pass through their digestive tract. 

Giardia

Giardia is another potential rabbit poop parasite. This one is dangerous for dogs. It causes giardiasis, which is a type of diarrhea. The diarrhea will be foul smelling. It typically looks frothy and greasy, which makes it even more disgusting. 

It doesn’t pose a serious risk to healthy dogs, but it can be harmful for young or elderly dogs. Dogs with a serious health condition or weakened immune system are also at a higher risk of serious illness. 

Even in healthy dogs, giardiasis does require prompt veterinary treatment. If allowed to continue, gastric inflammation, a sharp decrease in appetite, and weight loss can occur. These issues can make your pooch very sick. 

 Leptospira

Leptospira causes the disease Leptospirosis. It’s not easily transmitted through rabbit poop. Instead, its usually passed through rabbit urine. However, if your rabbit pees on their poop, or they are exposed to rabbit urine, they can develop the disease. 

Some dogs don’t experience any symptoms from leptospirosis. Others can become seriously ill. 

Symptoms of the disease include: 

  • Fever
  • Shivering
  • Muscle tenderness
  • Stiffness or joint pain
  • Increased thirst
  • Changes in urination 
  • Dehydration

They may also experience gastrointestinal symptoms, including vomiting and loss of appetite. They may also feel unwell, and be lethargic. Lastly, they may have painful inflammation of the eyes.

If the disease is left untreated, it can cause kidney or liver damage. Dogs can be vaccinated against the parasite, which offers 1 year of protection. 

Does rabbit poop cause diarrhea in dogs?

Rabbit poop itself should not cause diarrhea, unless your dog had a large amount of it. However, some of the parasites, particularly Giardia, can cause diarrhea. 

If your dog has eaten rabbit poop, diarrhea is a symptom you will want to look out for. Other symptoms include vomiting, dehydration, and abdominal pain. If your pooch displays these symptoms, they will need to visit the vet. 

Why do dogs eat rabbit poop?

When your dog eats rabbit poop, you likely have two thoughts. Ok, three thoughts. The first is eww, gross. The second is will my dog be ok? The third is, why in the world is my dog eating rabbit poop? 

Is it Normal For Dogs to Eat Poop? 

Eating poop in general is relatively normal for dogs. 16% of dogs are habitual poop eaters, which means they’ve been caught eating poop at least 5 times. 

A surprising 25%, or 1/4 of dogs are occasional poop eaters, meaning they’ve eaten poop at least once. 

This study doesn’t differentiate between different types of poop. However, it can be comforting to know that eating poop, even rabbit poop, is a normal, although disgusting, behavior. 

Nutritional Deficencies

One of the more concerning reasons your dog might eat rabbit poop is because they have nutritional deficiencies. Both humans and dogs have a built in craving system. This system si meant to direct us to foods we need to eat, because our body senses certain needed nutrients in the food. 

As gross as it is to us, rabbit poop contains some things that are good for dogs. These include digestive enzymes and B vitamins. If your pooch is short on these nutrients, they will supplement with rabbit poop. 

Taste

Again, it’s gross, but some dogs simply enjoy the taste of rabbit poop. I dont’  think anyone can tell us exactly what rabbit poop tastes like to our pooches, or why some seem to find it irresistible. Of course, dogs can be fascinated and attracted to many tastes that make us shudder. 

Curiousity

Dogs explore the world with their mouths and noses. If they are curious about something, you can expect them to put it in their mouth. They even have a jacobson’s organ which allows them to taste the air, and gives them more information than their sense of smell alone. 

Instinct 

Dogs have a natural instinct to eat poop. Mothers will eat the poop of their babies. This keeps the den clean, and helps protect the babies from predators. Even adult dogs will eat poop, for the same reasons.

It keeps the den clean and free of parasites, and keeps predators away from the den. This instinct applies to dog poop, but it can easily translate to other types of poop as well. 

It’s possible the dog is eating the rabbit poop because it considers the rabbit to be a part of its pack, which means it bears a responsibility for the clean up. 

Pica or Coprophagia

Pica is the scientific term for my dog eats things that they should not be eating. Some dogs are indiscrimate. They will eat plastic bags, shoes, and even your remote control. Others prefer a certain type of object or material. For example, a dog may only eat plastic bags, or plastic items in general. 

Coprophagia is when pica causes a dog to eat poop. It applies to all types of poop, including dog and rabbit poop. 

Pica and Coprophagia can have many causes, including disease, nutritional deficiencies, and behavioral issues. 

How to stop my dog from eating rabbit poop?

So, eating rabbit poop probably won’t make your dog ill, but it’s still gross. Of course, it’s a habit you’d like to break, no matter why your pooch thinks rabbit pellets are a delicacy. 

Restrict Access 

The most sure fire way to prevent your dog from eating rabbit poop is to prevent them from accessing it. If you keep rabbits in your yard, consider only allowing your dog in that area when you are around to supervise. 

If you have them inside, keep their cage or hutch out of reach of your pooch, or in a room they can’t access. 

If you allow your dog and rabbit to play together, keep a close eye out for droppings. Remove them, remove your dog from the area, or simply watch to be sure your pooch isn’t eating them. 

Teach Your Dog to Leave It 

A leave it or drop it command can be beneficial in many situations. Your pooch finds rabbit poop, tell them to leave it. They want to chew on  your new shoes, use the leave it command. While this command is very useful, ti does require teaching the command to your pooch. 

Technically, drop it and leave it are different commands. Drop it signals them to drop what is in their mouths. Leave it means they should leave something alone, before they pick it up. 

It’s easiest to start with Drop it. Begin a play session with your dog, tug of war works best. After a few minutes, stop playing. Wait for your dog to drop the toy. As soon as they do, say drop it and give them a treat. 

Keep doing this until your pooch has made the connection. Then, try say Drop it before your pooch drops the toy. Once they do, give them the reward. 

Over time, work up to higher value items. The end goal is to get your dog to be willing to drop anything at your command, but this takes a lot of time and practice. 

Check With Your Vet 

If there’s a chance nutritional deficiencies are the cause, you’ll need to consult your vet. They can check your pooch for nutritional deficiencies, and recommend a new diet or supplements to correct them. 

Addressing Pica 

If your dog has pica, you’ll need to take a different tact. It’s important to determine the underlying cause of pica, particularly if they eat other non-food items.   Your vet or a behavioralist is a great place to start when determining the cause and treatment of pica. 

In many cases, it’s a behavioral issue. This can be caused by boredom or anxiety. 

Reward Good Behavior

Be sure to reward your dog for good behavior. If they don’t eat the rabbit poop, praise them and give them a treat. This will encourage them to keep up their good behavior.