Uh oh. Your dog ate a dead rabbit. You might be concerned, and rightly so. What do you do if your dog ate dead rabbit?
Even if your dog doesn’t have any symptoms after eating the dead rabbit, it’s a good idea to call your vet. Definitely call them if you see gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy.
A dead rabbit can pass on a number of parasites to your dog that will require treatment. Even if they don’t have symptoms, your vet might put them on a deworming medication just to be safe.
In the rest of my article, I’ll go over some of these parasites, as well as explain why your dog ate that dead rabbit, and how you can prevent it from happening again.
Table of Contents
Why is Eating a Dead Rabbit a Problem?
Depending on how long the rabbit’s been dead, it might be host to a number of gross parasites. These are a normal part of the decomposition cycle. If no one eats the rabbit, they don’t get passed on.
Since your dog ate a rabbit, however, there’s a good chance they might now have some of these parasites in their system. Here are a few and symptoms to look out for.
If your dog is scooting their butt on a rough surface, it’s likely they’re trying to relieve irritation from a worm. Tapeworms are the most common. You might also see dried tapeworm segments in their feces. These are usually a cream or white color.
At worst, you might see live tapeworms coming out of your dog’s anus.
Other symptoms to look for include:
- Distended Abdomen
- Weakness and fatigue
- Weight loss in severe cases
Your vet will probably give you a deworming medication to get rid of the tapeworm. Administer the meds according to their directions.
It’s especially important to treat roundworms if you find signs of them in your dog. Not only can your dog pass the worms on to other animals, they can also pass it on to you.
While roundworms are generally more dangerous for puppies than adult dogs, they’re still no picnic for an adult. You might find adult roundworms in your dog’s vomit or feces.
The treatment will be similar to the treatment for a tapeworm. Getting your dog on a deworming medication as soon as possible is very important.
Fleas or Ticks
These bloodsuckers aren’t picky. They’re also great jumpers, and can easily leap from a dead rabbit to your dog. Look out for scratching, licking, and biting more often than normal.
Other signs include:
- Flea dirt or droppings–usually brown, as flea dirt is actually dried blood
- Pale gums
- Hair loss
- Lumps on the skin, in the case of ticks
Treatment will probably include a flea and tick bath with special medicated shampoo.
Fleas and ticks can carry other diseases. Ticks can infect your dog with Lyme disease, while fleas carry a rare disease called Tularemia, and even the bacterium that causes the bubonic plague. It’s important to treat fleas and ticks on your dog as soon as you see them.
Here’s a video detailing different medications and treatment methods for fleas.
Why Did My Dog Eat a Dead Rabbit?
Depending on whether your dog was hunting or just found a dead rabbit, there could be a couple of reasons why they ate it. If your dog killed the rabbit, they’re just fulfilling their instinctual prey drive. Your pup’s ancestors, namely, wolves, foxes, and other canids, regularly hunted smaller prey and ate it.
It might seem scary, but it’s literally written into your pet’s DNA.
There are some dog breeds where breeders try to emphasize this hunting instinct. They include beagles, basset hounds, Jack Russell terriers, and Dachshunds. Dogs that aren’t one of these breeds will probably still hunt a rabbit if the opportunity arises, but hunting breeds in particular are likely going to chase.
A dog eating a dead rabbit that’s been dead for a while is definitely gross. However, this is also instinctual. When desperate for food, canids sometimes eat what’s available. This can involve rotting meat, garbage, or even feces, their own or those of other animals.
Even though your dog probably knows when their next meal is, the wolf instincts in their brain don’t. Hence, that dead animal, even one covered in flies, will probably satiate hunger for however long they’ll need.
How Do I Stop My Dog from Eating a Dead Rabbit?
Obviously, you can’t prevent your dog from hunting or eating carrion in all situations. But I do understand if you don’t want to keep paying vet bills and buying deworming medication. When you’re on a walk, there are a few things you can try to distract them from the rabbit.
If your dog tends to run after prey, put them on a leash for walks. This will give you greater control over where your dog goes. Consider using a harness instead of a collar. If your dog pulls on their leash, they’re more likely to hurt their necks if they’re wearing a collar.
You can also try redirecting their direction away from any prey, living or dead. Bring their favorite treat along for a walk. It might not be easy to compete with their prey drive. However, it also might teach them that they’ll get their favorite snack if they don’t chase.
At home, you can try reinforcing the recall, or heel, command. You can use either word, but say it only when your dog is coming towards you. Reward them with a treat or praise if they come all the way to you.
Training works best in an environment with few distractions, and with positive reinforcement.
Here’s a video on how to train your dog in the recall command.
Due to its instincts, your dog might do a lot of gross things. This includes eating a dead rabbit. Hopefully, this won’t cause any distress. However, rabbits can carry some nasty parasites that can infect your dog.
If your dog eats a dead rabbit, it’s a good idea to call your vet, even if they don’t seem sick.