Can bird feeders make dogs sick?

Answered by Frank Schwing

Bird feeders can potentially make dogs sick if they eat the bird seed that falls to the ground or if they consume bird droppings while scavenging around the feeder area. While bird seed itself is not toxic to dogs, there are several risks associated with dogs ingesting bird seed.

One of the main concerns is the potential for bacterial contamination. Bird droppings can harbor a variety of bacteria, including salmonella, which is a common bacteria found in bird feces. If a dog consumes bird droppings contaminated with salmonella, they can become infected and develop symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. Salmonella can also be transmitted to humans if proper hygiene measures are not followed.

In addition to salmonella, bird droppings may also contain other bacteria and protozoan parasites that can be harmful to dogs. These can lead to various gastrointestinal issues and infections. It is important to note that even if the bird droppings appear to be dried or old, they can still harbor bacteria and pose a risk to dogs.

To prevent dogs from eating bird seed and potentially getting sick, there are a few precautions you can take:

1. Place bird feeders in areas inaccessible to dogs: Choose a location for your bird feeders that is not easily accessible to your dogs. Consider placing them in elevated areas or using poles with baffles to prevent dogs from reaching the feeders or the ground below.

2. Clean up fallen bird seed promptly: Regularly check the area around the bird feeders for fallen seeds and promptly clean them up. This will reduce the chances of your dog ingesting the seed.

3. Train your dog to avoid the feeder area: Teach your dog to stay away from the bird feeder area using positive reinforcement training techniques. Consistent training and reinforcement can help deter your dog from approaching the feeders.

4. Supervise your dog during outdoor activities: When allowing your dog outside, especially in areas where there are bird feeders, it is important to supervise them to ensure they do not consume bird seed or bird droppings.

5. Practice good hygiene: After cleaning up the bird feeder area or handling bird feeders, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly to prevent the potential transmission of bacteria to yourself or your dog.

By implementing these precautions, you can help reduce the risk of your dog getting sick from bird seed or bird droppings. Regular veterinary check-ups and maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle for your dog can also contribute to their overall well-being and resistance to potential infections.