My Labrador Puppy Ate a Dead Bird: Should I Worry?

Jane Davis

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Labrador puppies are known for their curious and often scavenging behavior, which can lead them to eat things that they shouldn’t.

Polish up your “leave it” command whenever possible. You’ll soon feel like you’ve developed a sixth sense about the munchables in your pup’s environment—they’re not picky, and yes, that includes things that aren’t even food!

Labs Eat All Kinds of Weird Things – Especially When They Are Still Pubs

Key Takeaways

  • Puppies may eat dead birds due to natural curiosity and scavenging instincts.
  • Consuming dead birds can pose health risks, including disease and toxin exposure.
  • Monitoring and training your puppy can help prevent this behavior in the future.

If your Labrador puppy has eaten a dead bird, you may be understandably concerned about whether this is normal and what potential health risks may be involved.

While it’s common for dogs, especially Labradors, to consume things they find outdoors, this behavior has risks.

It’s natural for dog owners to worry when their pet consumes something like a dead bird. The act is a relic of a dog’s scavenging ancestry, but it can expose the dog to various health issues.

Specifically, risks associated with a dog eating a dead bird include the potential for contracting diseases such as botulism or parasites or ingesting toxins if the bird was poisoned.

While consuming small bones and feathers doesn’t typically pose a significant threat, vigilance is necessary to ensure your puppy’s safety and health.

Understanding Canine Behavior

Your Labrador puppy’s actions can often be traced back to their ancestral behaviors.

Let’s explore why your puppy might have eaten a dead bird and how this relates to its innate instincts and natural diet.

Instinctual Scavenging in Dogs

Labradors, like all dogs, retain instincts from their wild ancestors. Scavenging is one such instinct that drives them to look for food opportunistically.

You may observe your puppy sniffing around and occasionally picking up things they find, including dead birds.

This behavior is normal in dogs and refers to survival strategies where available food could make the difference between life and death.

Natural Diet of Labradors

Originally bred to assist fishermen and retrieve game, Labradors have a diet history that includes a variety of proteins.

  • Proteins: Essential for growth and repair.
  • Fats: For energy and coat health.
  • Carbohydrates: For energy and digestive health.
  • Vitamins and minerals: For overall well-being.

Health Implications

labrador puppy eating a treat

When your Labrador puppy eats a dead bird, it can lead to certain health implications due to the potential presence of harmful pathogens in the bird’s carcass.

Risk of Bacterial and Parasitic Infections

Bacterial Infections: Your puppy may be exposed to Salmonella or E. coli, common in bird carcasses. Ingesting these bacteria can lead to serious gastrointestinal issues.

  • Key Bacteria to Watch For:
    • Salmonella
    • E. coli
    • Clostridium

Parasitic Infections: Dead birds might carry parasites like roundworms or tapeworms that can transfer to your dog.

  • Common Parasites:
    • Roundworms
    • Tapeworms

Symptoms to Monitor After Ingestion

After your puppy has ingested a dead bird, closely monitor them for any signs of illness. Symptoms may appear shortly after ingestion or may take a few days to manifest.

Immediate Symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

Delayed Symptoms:

May emerge within days and include:

  • Persistent gastrointestinal upset
  • Weight loss
  • Signs of worms in stool

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Preventive Measures and Training

Implement preventive measures and consistent training to ensure your Labrador puppy’s safety and well-being. This discourages undesirable scavenging behavior and provides your puppy with safer alternatives.

Training Tips to Discourage Scavenging

Consistent Commands: Use clear and consistent commands like “leave it” or “drop it” when you catch your puppy exploring or picking up something it shouldn’t. Consistency is key, so always use the same command and reward your puppy with praise or treats when it obeys

Safe Alternatives to Natural Scavenging

  • Appropriate Chew Toys: Offer your puppy a variety of approved chew toys to satisfy their need to chew and scavenge.

  • Chew toys keep them engaged and deter them from seeking

    inappropriate items.

  • Structured Play: Engage your puppy in structured play and exercise routines.

  • Activities like fetch, agility, or hide-and-seek with toys can redirect their natural scavenging instincts into positive outlets.


Jane Davis

Hi, my name is Jane Davis, and I love dogs. I own a labrador retriever named Max. When I was growing up, we always had dogs at our house. They provide us with such unconditional love and companionship, and I can't imagine my life without one by my side.

This website does not provide pet medical advice. For professional advice regarding your pet's health, please consult a licensed veterinarian in your local area.