Why Your Dog Eats Rabbit Poop & How to Stop It

Even though it's gross, your dog's obsession with eating rabbit poop is usually normal. But there are still some concerns you need to address.

Published June 28, 2023
Rabbit excrement in the field of the species

If you have ever caught your dog munching on your rabbit's droppings in your backyard, it's easy to be a little grossed out. As peculiar and concerning as this behavior may seem, it's relatively common among our fluffy family members. While it's normally harmless, it could also be a sign of health issues or deficiencies in your dog's diet. Also, if your dog is eating wild rabbit droppings, there's more reason for concern.

What Does Rabbit Poop Look Like?

It's not hard to tell rabbit poop apart from other kinds of animal droppings. Rabbit poop is generally small, round, and pellet-like. Each pellet is usually about the size of a pea and they're all shaped the same.

If you have ever found poop in your yard that looks like a pile of small balls or marbles, you've probably came across rabbit poop. Healthy rabbit droppings are usually firm but not too hard, and they should be dry and relatively odorless. They range in color from light brown to dark brown.

Why Do Dogs Eat Rabbit Poop?

We definitely don't want doggy kisses after our pet has literally been chewing on poop for the last 20 minutes. Seriously, why would a dog think eating poop is appealing? It just doesn't sound right. Surprisingly, there are a few reasons your dog could be attracted to this disgusting snack:

  • Instinctive behavior: In the wild, canines are natural scavengers and omnivores. Eating feces could be a throwback to their wild ancestors, providing an extra source of food.
  • Nutritional value: As strange as it sounds, rabbit droppings can offer some nutritional appeal to dogs. Rabbits pass semi-digested food in their feces, which could entice a hungry or nutritionally deficient dog.
  • Behavioral factors: Some dogs eat feces out of boredom, stress, or attention-seeking behavior. Sometimes, they just like the taste.
  • Health conditions: Certain health issues, such as diabetes, thyroid disease, or malabsorption syndrome, can increase a dog's appetite, leading them to eat non-food items, including feces.
  • Hunger: If your pup is hungry, they may resort to eating just about anything. Make sure you offer your dog the right amount of food each day.
Need to Know

If you have a puppy, they might try rabbit poop out of curiosity. Avoid letting them develop the habit, however, and watch them closely to prevent them from eating rabbit droppings.

The Risks of Eating Rabbit Poop

Even though domestic rabbit poop is unlikely to be dangerous for your dog, it's still best to stop your dog from eating their droppings. There are several potential risks to be aware of just in case your dog dives into the rabbit poop pile, the biggest of which has to do with risk of contracting a disease:

  • Parasitic infections: Rabbit feces can contain parasites, such as Giardia, and certain types of tapeworms that can infect dogs. This is typically more of a problem with wild rabbit droppings, but domesticated rabbit poop is a risk factor, too.
  • Bacterial infections: Rabbit feces carry bacteria, including types of Salmonella and E. coli, which can potentially cause serious illness if ingested by your dog.
  • Disease transmission: Certain diseases, such as tularemia, also known as rabbit fever, can be transmitted to dogs through the ingestion of rabbit feces.
  • Dietary upset: Even if there are no parasites or harmful bacteria present, the sudden ingestion of rabbit feces can upset a dog's digestive system, leading to diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Toxicity: If your rabbit has consumed plants that are toxic to dogs - even if the plants are not toxic to rabbits themselves - these toxins can be passed to your dog through the feces.

Given these potential risks, it's crucial to discourage your dog from eating rabbit poop and to keep a close eye on them when they're outside. If you notice any changes in your dog's health or behavior following the ingestion of rabbit feces, seek veterinary attention immediately.

Quick Tip

There's no way to know what's inside a rabbit's poop, even if the poop they're eating is coming from your pet bunny. Play it safe and clean up rabbit poop in your yard, or around your bunny's hutch.

How to Stop Your Dog's Gross Habit

Cute brown Dachshund dog with red leash on east london street

While occasional coprophagia might not be harmful, it's not a habit to encourage. Here are some strategies to help curb your dog's poop-eating behavior:

  • Keep your yard clean: Regularly patrol your yard and remove any rabbit droppings. A clean yard will leave fewer opportunities for your dog to indulge in this unsavory habit. Or, if you have a pet rabbit out back, clean up their droppings before your dog has a chance to gulp them up.
  • Use deterrents: Many pet stores sell safe, non-toxic deterrents that can be sprayed on feces to make them less appealing to dogs.
  • Leash training: If your dog tends to find rabbit poop on your daily walk, consider keeping them on a short leash. Train your dog to focus on you and reward them for ignoring feces and other gross items.
  • Diet review: Ensure your dog's diet is balanced and fulfilling their nutritional needs. Sometimes, switching to a higher-quality dog food can eliminate poop-eating behavior.
  • Mental stimulation and exercise: If boredom or stress is the cause, increase your dog's physical and mental stimulation. Regular exercise, interactive toys, and mental challenges can keep them occupied and reduce unwanted behaviors.
Quick Tip

If you're struggling to keep your dog from eating feces or if you suspect an underlying health problem, book a consult with a veterinarian.

Work Toward Better Habits

While you may be worried about your dog eating rabbit poop, as long as it's addressed, it shouldn't become a lifelong habit. Whether it's a matter of changing your dog's diet, changing their behavior, or seeking professional advice, it's important to guide your dog toward healthier habits. After all, our furry family members rely on us for their wellbeing, and allowing them to eat rabbit poop doesn't exactly healthy.

Why Your Dog Eats Rabbit Poop & How to Stop It