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Do dogs eat birds?

Dogs are for the most part domesticated, but there is still a trace of wildness in them. They will chase what flees from them, and they may eat whatever they are chasing if they happen to catch it and kill it.

Some dog breeds are better than others at hunting and retrieving, and if you have one that has it bred into it, it is a very hard habit to break. Dogs eat a lot of things they should not, and it should not surprise us when a dog eats a bird. Your dog may have eaten more birds and other things that you are not aware of.

Do dogs eat birds?

Dogs do indeed eat birds, whether it is one they caught or one that falls to the ground. Some dogs are natural retrievers and hunters, and most are natural scavengers who will eat anything they can get their mouth on.

Dogs have a natural drive to pursue whatever is fleeing, whether they are bird dogs or not. They may chase only to be chasing and may be surprised if they actually catch one. 

Dogs that spend most of their life indoors may not even realize they could eat a bird if they caught it, but many would if given a chance.

We must remember that dogs are still dogs, no matter how domesticated and trained they are. We may see a dead decaying bird as an ugly sight on a sidewalk that maybe stinks. 

Your dog probably sees a surprise tasty treat that should be eaten immediately before some other dog finds it.

Dogs like to pursue birds, but most of the time, birds fly away easily and are rarely caught. Dogs are more likely to eat a bird that has died and fallen to the ground.

In rare cases, when a dog does catch a bird, he may end up eating it, but usually, it is one that has died from another cause.

Eating birds is not a good thing for your dog, but it will not likely kill the dog or cause serious health problems. Most likely the dog will get a stomach ache and either vomit or get some diarrhea. If a bird has a disease or other toxins, the dog could get those by eating the bird, and that is the greatest health risk to the dog. 

A dog could get Salmonella from eating a bird, which is another risk. There could be a slight risk from the bones of the bird passing through the dog’s digestive system, but most of the time they pass without a problem.

Are birds OK with dogs?

Birds most likely see dogs as a threat, as they see any animal that is bigger than they are. They have the same reaction to humans. When a larger animal comes around that is bigger, it is considered a threat and the birds fly away.

Being able to fly away is a tremendous advantage and that allows birds to escape a pursuing dog easily. Birds may feel threatened by dogs, but since they can fly there is very little risk.

On the other hand, it is not so much that dogs do not like birds, they just like to pursue whatever is running from them. Dogs don’t chase birds, or any animal, including humans, because they don’t like those animals.

They are natural pursuit animals. Your dog may playfully run from you, or chase you when you play. A stray dog could see you as a threat and chase you away – and you could get bitten in the process,

Dogs are natural predators of birds, so it may be instinctual to try to catch and kill them for food. The dog is not being “bad,” the dog is just following his natural instincts. Even so, it is possible to have pet birds and pet dogs at the same time, though you will have to do a lot of work with the dog.

How to get my dog to leave birds alone?

Dogs can be trained to do just about anything, even to stop chasing birds, but it is not easy. Dogs pursue whatever flees, and they are predators of birds, so there are two very strong natural urges that you have to overcome in your dog.

Training your dog should start when he or she is a young puppy. One basic thing to teach them is to stop whatever they are doing when you say “no,” in a loud voice.

That can be done, but those instinctual drives can rise up again at any time. Most dogs need continuous training in areas that go against their nature, like this. The command “leave it” is also good, as it tells the dog to stop doing whatever she is trying to do.

There are many books available on how to train a dog, and you can get a professional dog trainer to help you. Basic obedience commands are essential and should be taught early.

You can try distracting your dog from the birds when you see their nature taking over and pushing aside their training. Some say you should take your dog outside, and if he starts barking at birds, bring him in immediately. The dog may get the connection that barking at birds limits his playtime outside,

Early on, you must teach your dog to give you his attention when you tell him to. If you fail to do this, the natural instinct to chase or bark will overcome what you tell the dog to do. Even with the training, it may be hard for the dog, but if you cannot gain control of your dog easily when there is nothing going on, it will be impossible if they are intent on an object they want to chase.

Do not yell at your dog to be quiet. For one thing, the dog doesn’t understand human words and has no idea what its noise means. As far as the dog knows, you are barking too.

Dogs also feed off your excitement level. They may think that your emotional reaction is supporting their desire to chase those birds for you. Dogs like attention and may or may not care whether you are being positive or negative.

Try removing your dog from the situation, and distracting the dog to get it to stop barking or trying to chase birds. Praise them when they are calm, and reward that behavior.

With some effort, you can teach your dog to give you his full attention on command. With that ability, you can simply tell your dog to stop, and he will. Realize though that this takes a lot of time and consistent work with your dog. You may also have to do training again when you see them slipping into their old natural ways.

Can dogs eat birds?

The simple answer to “can dogs eat birds?” is yes, they can. Whether they should is another matter entirely. Seeing your dog eat raw meat or an animal that has died, may seem disgusting, but to your dog, he is just doing what comes naturally. Most of the time, a dog will at least take a nibble of a dead animal he comes across, and will often eat what he finds. That is just the nature of a dog. It is not good or bad in the natural world. 

Eating the bird itself will not likely harm your dog. Dogs can get sick by eating birds that are sick, and enough raw meat can cause health issues for some dogs. But eating one bird will not likely harm them. It will likely give them an upset stomach, so they will likely vomit or have diarrhea later on.

Still, it is not something you are going to want to see. You should train your dog to let the bird go when you tell her to, and dispose of the bird in another way. You might be surprised at the things your dog eats when you are not looking. You cannot control that, but you can control what you see happening.

Dogs love to eat chicken, and that is a bird. Wild birds may or may not taste different in your dog’s world. Your dog likes to eat things you will find disgusting, but keep in mind that your dog is just being a dog and is not intentionally being bad. The worst thing to do is to yell at the dog or punish him.

The better thing to do is work harder on training the dog to be obedient and to stop whatever he is doing when you tell him to. Reward him excessively for doing the right thing, which will encourage even more positive behavior.

What to do if my dog eats a bird?

If you see your dog eating a bird, take notice of the situation. It is a good idea to call your veterinarian, explain the situation, and get some advice as to whether you need to do anything at all. Try to determine how long the bird has been dead. Was its death very recent, or has it decayed to some degree? How much did the dog eat?

Call your vet and give him this information, as well as your dog’s size and age. The vet may or may not have your records handy. If only a small amount was eaten and the dog seems fine, you might just monitor the dog’s condition to see if it gets worse.  Often an upset stomach is all that happens when a dog eats something we humans think a dog should not eat.

Whether you saw the bird or not, if you are pretty sure your dog ate one, you should monitor the dog closely for a day or so to make sure he is OK. Look for vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, lethargy, or general weakness. Often the dog will just throw up the dead bird and that will be all that happens. If other things start happening, you should call your veterinarian and discuss the situation.

When that happens, your vet will likely advise you to keep a close eye on your pet for 24-48 hours to see if the condition improves. The dog should feel better once the dead bird has cleared his system, and be fine from there. Depending on the situation, the vet could ask you to bring the pet in immediately. Whatever you both decide is best is what should be done.

It is not a good idea to scold your dog, yell at him, or otherwise punish him for eating a bird. Dog trainers are getting away from the discipline-type training and feel that positive reinforcement is a better teacher. Encourage the behavior you want and reward that behavior when it happens.

If your dog eats a bird, and the dog seems no worse for it, check with your vet and see if he thinks anything needs to be done. It may be impossible to keep a dog that is alone from eating a dead bird he happens to come across. But it is possible to get them to stop, or at least slow them down when it comes to chasing birds. 

In general, it is not a good idea to leave your dog alone outside, but even inside a fenced yard, a bird could fall to the ground and be a ready snack.