Generally, dogs are not picky eaters. They love exploring the world around them, and they may end up eating anything that comes their way. This includes feathers. Considering that feathers are sharp and hard to chew, as a dog owner, you might be wondering whether your dog is in danger. In the article below, get to learn whether you should be worried about birds eating feathers and what you can do about it.
What Happens If My Dog Eats a Feather?
Most of the time, if your dog eats a feather, nothing will happen. Feathers or fur can, in fact, benefit your dog. It can help floss between the dog’s teeth, clean the digestive system, and the natural fibers can aid in digestion. However, large feathers like a fake costume feather or from certain birds like geese can cause a few health issues for your dog. The large stem from such feathers can get lodged in the throat, causing the dog to choke.
Is it Bad For a Dog to Eat a Feather?
This mostly depends on the size of the feather. Hardly will your dog develop an allergic reaction because it ate a feather. That is why you find some dog owners feeding their dogs an un-plucked raw chicken, as it has no effects.
Can Dogs Ingest Feathers?
No, they cannot. The feathers will pass through the dog’s digestive system and come out as feces without issues. It takes between 1 to 3 days for the feathers to pass through the system. If it happens that feathers have been caught up inside the dog’s system, most likely, your dog will vomit them.
Why Does My Dog Like Eating Feathers?
Your dog could be eating feathers because it associates them with birds, and your dog sees birds as food. So, when a dog comes across feathers, the scent ignites some hunting instincts in your dog, which is why it eats them.
Can Swallowing Feathers Hurt My Dog?
Most of the time, if your dog swallows a small feather or even five, there will be no problem. This can be feathers from your pillow or even a few flying around your yard. Even a large feather is likely to pass through your dog’s system without any hitch. However, your dog may have trouble swallowing if the feather has a long stem and possibly lead to choking.
What To Do If My Dog Eats a Feather
Do not freak out if you notice that your dog has eaten a feather as long as there is no choking or vomiting. Your dog cannot digest it, and so it will pass out as poop. On the other hand, if the dog starts choking, call a vet and take the dog to a clinic for immediate medical attention. If the feather has gone through with no issues, then you should observe its poop in the next 1 to 3 days and confirm that the feather passed. In the meantime, you should also watch out for certain signs like lack of appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting. Some dogs may also experience pain or cough every time they drink water. This is a sign that the feather is stuck in the dog’s intestines. Some signs of intestinal obstruction include:
- Loss of appetite
- Struggling to poop
- Tarry stools
- Abdominal pain and bloating
- Refusing to lie down
- Excessive drooling
When you notice such signs, it is better to call a vet as they will advise you on how to proceed with the situation. You may be required to take the dog to the clinic for examination to check whether the feather is stuck in the dog’s throat or the intestines. The vet will examine the dog, run some tests, and do some x-rays. This helps determine what the right treatment is.
Treatment of Intestinal Obstruction by a Feather
If the feather is blocking the intestines, here is a rundown of the treatment you can expect.
The easiest way to treat your dog when it has ingested a feather and is blocking the intestines is to induce vomit. After the dog has thrown up, you can go home with your pet. However, you may have to monitor him for vomiting and loss of appetite. Also, check if your dog is passing stool, as usual, to ensure any danger of obstruction has been eliminated.
Sometimes, it might be too late to induce vomit, and so other measures have to be taken.
An obstruction in the intestines is a life-threatening condition. And if the vet cannot induce vomit, then they will hospitalize the dog to stabilize it. Here, the vet will give the dog intravenous fluids to help with hydration. Also, if they feel that the obstruction will pass, they can use medical therapy or fluid therapy to help speed up the process. Consequently, the vet will be monitoring the movement of the feather through radiography to check if it is moving.
In worst-case scenarios, the dog may need surgery to remove the feather. The dog is put under anesthesia, and the vet opens up the intestines and removes the feather. They will also correct any abnormal folding.
After surgery, try to keep your pet still so that it rests and heals. This could take a couple of weeks. You will have to withdraw food for a while and introduce a bland diet in small amounts. After every 2 to 3 days, you can increase the food amounts. You can also gradually transition your dog to a regular diet after that. You should be monitoring your pet, checking that it is improving. If you notice any abnormalities, call your vet.
What to Do If Your Dog Vomits The Feather at Home
If your dog eats the feather and then vomits it, you can handle the situation at home instead of taking your canine friend to the vet. Here are a few recommendations from vets.
- For the next 24 hours, avoid feeding your dog any food so that the insides recover.
- About four hours after your dog has vomited, you can give it some water to keep it dehydrated.
- You can also feed your dog diluted chicken broth.
- Once the 24 hours are over, you can feed your dog but stick to bland food only. For instance, a cooked food mix of about 75% white rice and 25% chicken will do.
- Feed your dog the bland food for like two days, after which you can resume a normal diet.
Occasionally, your dog may eat a feather, and then as it tries to vomit, it gets stuck in the back of the throat. This can lead to irritation. Other symptoms that the dog may exhibit include sneezing, drooling, inability to swallow, nasal discharge/ bloody discharge. These are serious symptoms, and your dog could be in trouble if you do not get immediate medical assistance.
How to Prevent My Dog from Eating Feathers
As seen above, as much as feathers may be harmless, they can also endanger your dog’s health. So the best action to take is to work on ways to prevent your dog from eating feathers.
Take The Feather Away
If you see your dog chewing on a feather, take it away. You can warn them with a stern ‘no’ if they try to fight. When you try to take something away from your dog, it is having fun; it can get defensive. If you notice your dog getting possessive of the feather or trying to take it back, offer an alternative treatment to distract them.
Train Your Dog
You can also train your dog to leave the feather alone without having to take it away from them physically. Every time they leave the feather, give them a treat as a reward. With time, your dog will learn that touching a feather is not a good thing. Also, if you do not discourage this behavior and you have poultry around your house, the dog will start chasing them.
Buy Your Dog Other Toys
Does your dog have enough toys to play with? Understand that dogs get bored quickly, and to them, a feather is a new object to be explored. You can introduce new toys to your dog to keep it busy whenever it gets bored.
Clean The Compound
Another way to prevent your dog from eating feathers is by frequently cleaning the compound, especially if you have poultry around. If there are no feathers around, when your dogs go out to play, they will be safe.
Why Would My Dog Eat a Feather?
There are several reasons why your dog would eat a feather. Knowing these allows you to take the right measures.
If this is the first time your dog is eating a feather, the issue may be with its diet. When a dog does not get enough nutrients, it can exhibit certain unusual behavior like licking the wall or eating anything across its paths, including feathers. It is a way to try and compensate for the vitamins or minerals lacking in their food. This behavior is particularly common in dogs that did not get enough nutrients when they were still fetuses or suckling. If your dog is eating feathers due to insufficient nutrients, try improving its diet.
Feathers are Fun
Another reason why your dog is eating a feather is simply that they are exploratory creatures. The dog will not just sit around and wait for you to come back in the evening. It will try to keep itself busy, and one way of doing that is through chewing. A feather is soft and something that your dog will enjoy chewing and eventually swallow.
What to Do If My Dog Ate a Bird
As much as dogs are omnivores, sometimes the carnivore instinct can kick in. Most dogs love chasing birds as a way of playing. But sometimes, injured, old, slower, or fledgling birds may not get away fast enough. Dogs can also run into birds that are already dead and eat them.
A bird that your dog caught while alive and ate is not dangerous, and most of the time, your dog will be fine. However, some birds may have bacteria like salmonella, which can harm a dog. Also, dead birds may contain germs or other harmful bacteria, and your dog could get infected.
Fortunately, this infection can be easily neutralized inside your dog’s system. The immune system of a healthy dog is resilient. It will be able to fight the bacteria without upsetting the stomach. On the other hand, if your dog has been exposed to a lot of bacteria, it will need treatment or, in worse cases, hospitalization. To prevent your dog from eating birds, provide appropriate training. Do not encourage them to chase birds and engage them in other forms of play. Also, when going on walks, keep them on a leash.