Bird droppings are a common curiosity for dogs, and many pups can’t resist the temptation to snack on them. But should you be concerned about the health implications? In this article, we’ll explore the potential risks and discuss ways to discourage this behavior. Rest assured, the typical bird dropping is generally harmless to your canine companion. However, it’s essential to remain mindful of certain organisms and diseases that could pose a danger. Let’s delve into the details to keep your furry friend safe and sound.
Is It Safe?
Bird droppings, in most cases, won’t harm your dog. The bacteria found in healthy bird droppings are typically harmless to canines. Even if ingested, the acidity of the stomach usually destroys potential pathogens before they can cause any harm. So, there’s no need to panic if your pooch indulges in the occasional avian treat.
Potential Respiratory Risks
While ingestion of bird droppings is usually harmless, some organisms can pose a threat if inhaled. For instance, the Chlamydophila avium bacteria, which causes psittacosis, can infect various species, including humans, but it is rarely seen in canines. Tuberculosis-causing bacteria (Mycobacterium sp.) and certain fungi like Cryptococcus neoformans and Histoplasmosis can also be transmitted through inhalation of infected droppings. However, the bird must be infected with these diseases for transmission to occur.
Parasites, Viruses, and Bacteria
Luckily, most parasites, viruses, and bacteria found in bird droppings are species-specific. This means that they primarily affect birds and have limited or no impact on dogs. So, even if your feathery companion carries polyomavirus or West Nile virus, there’s little risk of transmission to your canine friend. Parasitic eggs, such as those from tapeworms or roundworms, are also generally not infective to dogs. Protozoal parasites like Giardia have different species that affect various mammals, but the avian form is not believed to be infective to dogs.
Keeping Your Dog Away
To prevent your dogs from feasting on bird droppings, you can employ a few strategies:
- Use a cage skirt or mess catcher: These accessories will contain droppings and cage debris, preventing your pets from accessing them.
- Vinyl carpet runners: Placing these under the cage with the spikes facing upwards can discourage dogs and other pets from approaching. The spikes make them uncomfortable to walk on, acting as a deterrent.
Cleanup and Potential Implications
In some cases, pets may not only consume droppings but also seeds, pellets, and other discarded foods found under bird cages. Generally, the ingestion of non-digestible substances like seed hulls or bedding is unlikely to cause any significant issues. However, large volumes of these materials could potentially result in gastrointestinal blockages. Additionally, some cage debris may cause stomach upset if it doesn’t agree with your pet. While the number of calories consumed from this behavior may not be significant, it’s still worth considering if you’re monitoring your pet’s weight.
An Unusual Taste
Lastly, it’s worth noting that some dogs have a peculiar fascination with cat feces. This might be due to the high protein content found in the end products of cat food digestion. While this behavior may seem strange to us, it’s not uncommon among dogs. Perhaps someone will take advantage of this and create a monthly heartworm preventative that tastes like cat feces – it might just be a million-dollar idea!
Remember, if you’re concerned about your pet’s health or suspect any unusual symptoms, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian.
Excerpt from BIRD TALK Magazine, July 2005, with permission from its publisher, Lumina Media.
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