If My Dog Chewed on a Dead Bird, Can She Get a Parasite?

by Victoria Lee Blackstone
    Eating a dead bird or holding it in the mouth can spread parasites to your dog.

    Eating a dead bird or holding it in the mouth can spread parasites to your dog.

    Apple Tree House/Lifesize/Getty Images

    While you may not find a bird carcass appetizing, your pooch will undoubtedly find it worth scarfing. Birds can carry a variety of parasites, but luckily, most of these parasites are not zoonotic and so are unable to spread to your dog. One parasite, though, coccidium, is zoonotic; it can pass from a dead bird to cause coccidiosis in dogs.

    Transmission and Symptoms of Coccidiosis

    The coccidium parasite enters your dog’s system through ingestion of infected stool, grass or dirt infected from stool, or by eating parasite-carrying birds or rodents. Symptoms of coccidiosis include mild to severe diarrhea, loss of appetite, dehydration and vomiting. In severe cases, diarrhea may contain blood or mucus.

    Treatment and Prevention

    The treatment for coccidiosis includes anti-parasitic medication. Intravenous fluids may be necessary to treat dehydration. To help reduce the risk of your dog picking up coccidium, check the year for dead birds or rodents and pick up feces on a regular basis, especially in areas where stray dogs are able to enter.

    Photo Credits

    • Apple Tree House/Lifesize/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Victoria Lee Blackstone is a horticulturist who propagates heirloom and native plants for her nursery. She has authored research-based scientific/technical papers, plant care sheets and magazine and newspaper articles. Blackstone studied botany and microbiology at Clemson University and is a former University of Georgia Extension Master Gardener Coordinator.

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