My Dog Ate A Rabbit: What Should I Do Now?

German Shepherd puppy, 4 months old, and a rabbit in front of white background

One morning, if you’ve taken your furry friend out for a walk and he or she spots a rabbit on the run, your dog’s natural instinct will be to chase the rabbit. And if your dog does manage to get hold of the bunny then he or she will likely want to devour most of it. 

Some dogs view small animals as their prey and that’s why it is quite common for dogs to chase down small animals like rabbits and mice due to their predatory instincts. 

In some cases, dogs will want to eat their catch whereas in other cases it’s nothing more than just a game for them. 

If your dog has eaten a rabbit mostly you won’t have to worry about it much. But if in any case, you find the rabbit was dead before your dog ate it or if it was infected or poisoned, in order to avoid worsening the situation, immediately contact your veterinarian.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate a Rabbit?

If you come across your dog eating a rabbit, then you can easily interrupt instantly and make your dog stop before the situation worsens. 

If your dog ate a rabbit and is not showing even one sign of discomfort or illness then there are good chances of your dog being absolutely fine. But in case you are still not convinced your furry friend is fine, you can ask your vet for some opinions. 

In case you notice any gastrointestinal problems like diarrhoea, vomiting, or weakness take your dog to the vet for a check up. Your vet might even suggest giving your dog some tapeworm deworming medication. 

What symptoms should you look for if your dog has eaten a rabbit?

Immediately take your dog to the vet if you notice the following symptoms in your dog after he or she has eaten a rabbit:

Tapeworm Symptoms 

We know it can be a really disturbing sight to watch tapeworms crawl out of your dog’s rear end. You might come across fried white or cream coloured segments on the surface of fresh feces, these things can be stuck under the tail of your dog too. Make sure to check well, however disturbing it may get. 

If you see your dog is trying to scoot their rear end along a rough surface or floor, know that they are doing so to tame the irritation that the tapeworms are causing them. 

Besides these signs, there are others: 

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Weight loss
  • Distended abdomen 

Fleas and Ticks Symptoms

If you notice your dog scratching themselves, or licking and biting then you should confirm those signs to be signs of fleas and ticks. 

Other signs include: 

  • Hair loss
  • Pale gums
  • Scabs 

Tularaemia Symptoms

In dogs, luckily, Tularaemia is quite rare. These are the symptoms of this diseases you have to look out for: 

  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Eye discharge
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Painful lymph nodes 

Rabies Symptoms

In dogs, just like Tularaemia, Rabies is rare too. But, just in case, be aware of these symptoms:

  • Seizures 
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Disorientation 
  • Paralysis of the hind legs, jaw muscles and throat
  • No coordination 

Consumption of Rabbit Droppings Symptoms

If your dog has a sensitive stomach and has consumed way too much of rabbit droppings then your dog might show these signs: 

  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Lethargy
  • Drooling
  • Loss of appetite 

Is My Dog Safe If He Consumes Rabbit Droppings?

Rabbits in fact, eat a lot as well as poop a lot. Rabbit droppings happen to be really rich in nutrients which may not be present in the diet of a dog and that’s why dogs do get attracted to rabbit droppings. 

The effect of consuming rabbit poop varies from dog to dog. There are some dogs that will show no signs of being affected whereas there are some dogs that have a poor and sensitive digestive system and won’t react to rabbit poop well. 

Rabbits have two different kinds of poop: cecotropes and the common pellet type. Cecotropes resemble grapes, and rabbits produce them at night and eat them back for nutrition. Dogs usually encounter pellets. They are dark brown or black in color and do not emit an odor. 

Vitamin B and digestive enzymes are craved by dogs, and these are present in rabbit  droppings. 

What are the risks my dog will face after eating rabbit droppings?

  • Unwanted reactions in the digestive tract of your dog is one of the most common risks. This happens when your dog tends to consume something that is not a part of their daily diet. 
  • The next one can be coccidia. This parasite can be contracted by consuming water, soil or food that is contaminated. This parasite does change for every species. But we have good news for you, the rabbit form of coccidia is not dangerous for dogs and so your dog will pass it without facing any consequences. 

Is My Dog Safe If they Ate a Rabbit?

Eating a rabbit won’t really make your dog sick since a lot of dog foods do contain rabbit meat in order to serve our dogs protein. Rabbit is just another form of meat for dogs to relish. 

However, there are chances of wild rabbits having parasites and diseases in them that could cause your pooch a lot of trouble. 

If you notice anything from the below symptoms make sure you rush your dog to your nearest veterinarian. 

Tapeworms

Tapeworms are long, flat and segmented. They have a head that can get attached to your dog’s feces. Yes, it’s as nasty as it sounds! 

If your dog happens to eat a whole rabbit, by himself, then it is likely to get infected with a tapeworm. If you see segments in your dog’s feces, segments that look similar to rice grains then you should know they are tapeworm eggs. 

Rabies

Rabies is a very rare disease like Tularaemia in dogs but dogs can contract rabies from rabbits that are infected. If your dog comes in contact with the rabbit’s blood or saliva there are chances your dog can get infected. Even if the blood comes out in the feces and your dog eats that, your dog can still get infected with rabies. 

However, all dogs are made to get vaccinated against rabies so if you are one of those pet parents who got their dog vaccinated against rabies you do not have much to worry about. 

Tularemia

Tularaemia is another very uncommon disease in dogs. It is referred to as rabbit fever. 

How is this disease caused? It is caused by Francisella Tularensis bacteria. You need to be even more cautious because rabbits transfer Tularaemia to humans as well. 

Fleas and Ticks

Your dog can get fleas and ticks that can be passed on from rabbits easily. 

Why Do Dogs Want to Eat Rabbits?

Dogs have an ancestral past and that’s what related them to wolves. They get their prey drive from wolves. They do develop a need to chase and that’s what makes them really good hunters. 

Rabbits can also turn out to be nothing more than just a game for dogs, since they’re small and dogs do get attracted to small things. 

All dogs have these genetic instincts in them that won’t really stop but there are few dogs like Beagles, Dachshunds, Basset Hounds, and Jack Russell terriers that are specifically good hunters.

Conclusion

If you know that there are a lot of rabbits around your area, and you don’t want your dog to get used to eating rabbits then you can put a leash on your dog or train your dog. Redirection training is the best option. 

If your dog has eaten a rabbit or rabbit droppings, either of the two, you can easily contact your veterinarian especially if your dog shows any signs of discomfort like vomiting or diarrhoea. 

Kristel is a writer for Cat Judo and an avid fan of every cat she sees. In fact, outside work, you can find her at home playing with her five cats, all of whom are rescued from the streets. There’s no doubt that if she sees another one in a box somewhere, she’s going to adopt it.

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