Can dogs get sick from eating dead animals? A Step-by-Step Guide

Can sniffing, rolling on, or playing with a dead animal put my pet at risk?

While these behaviors may leave your pet’s coat or breath smelling a bit ripe, they generally pose minimal health risks. Bathing your pet and avoiding doggy kisses is strongly advised.

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Can dogs get sick from eating dead animals?

  • Dogs are often intrigued by the smell of dead animals.
  • Handling (pawing, nosing, sniffing, carrying, etc.) a dead animal can present risks to dogs, especially if the animal has been poisoned or is carrying a harmful bacterium.
  • Keeping a close eye on pets while outdoors and teaching the “leave it” command can reduce the chance of a dog handling a dead animal.
  • If your dog is prone to picking up random objects on walks, chances are she will come across a dead animal and want to pick it up. When it comes to gross-and-also-potentially-dangerous behaviors, eating dead things has to be near the top of the list. Here’s what you need to do if your dog eats a dead animal and what you need to know about why she does it to begin with.

    Symptoms of Garbage Toxicosis (Garbage Gut) in Dogs

    The signs of garbage toxicosis depend on what kind of bacteria is involved, but the most commonly reported side effects are:

  • Diarrhea (may be bloody or watery)
  • Vomiting (can be projectile vomiting with or without blood)
  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Appetite loss
  • Sleepiness
  • High body temperature
  • Depression
  • Dehydration
  • Panting
  • Flatulence (gas)
  • Weakness
  • Shock (cold extremities, weak pulse, inactivity, respiratory failure)
  • Seizures (rare)
  • Death (rare)
  • Types

    Garbage toxicosis is possible in any breed of dog at any age, both male and female, but there are certain high-risk categories, which are:

  • Outdoor dogs
  • Small and toy breed dogs (Maltese, Miniature Poodle, Miniature Schnauzer, Miniature Pinscher, Shih Tzu, and Yorkshire Terrier)
  • Young dogs under five years old
  • Why Vultures Don’t Get Sick When Eating Dead and Rotting Things

    Botulism is a rare but potentially fatal illness caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. Dogs become affected by eating decomposing animal carcasses or spoiled vegetation where the bacterium grows. Once eaten and absorbed from the stomach and intestines, the toxin attacks the body’s nerves, resulting in weakness (paresis), and eventually the inability to move (paralysis). This can progress quickly to breathing difficulties or even eventual death, if left untreated.

    Botulism is considered a medical emergency and can be deadly without prompt treatment. If you believe your pet is experiencing any of the signs of botulism, contact your local veterinarian immediately.

    Clinical signs of botulism may develop within a few hours but can be delayed up to six days. Signs can vary based on the amount of toxin consumed, but the earlier the signs appear, the more serious the disease. Clinical signs of botulism include:

    Despite being paralyzed, affected dogs are mentally normal, and can still sense their environment and feel pain.

    If left untreated, most pets die of botulism due to respiratory distress as the muscles used for breathing, such as the diaphragm, becomes paralyzed and the dog is unable to breathe. However, the paralysis can affect other organs, such as the heart—which can also be fatal. If your pet is experiencing any of the above clinical signs of botulism, contact a veterinarian immediately.

    Botulism is caused by the botulinum toxin, which is produced by the bacteria C. botulinum. There are seven subtypes of C. botulinum (A, B, C, D, E, F, and G). All of them have the same effect on the nervous system. Subtypes A, B, E, and F are associated with botulism in humans while most cases in dogs are caused by subtype C.

    Once a dog consumes the toxin, it is absorbed in the stomach and intestines and carried in the bloodstream to the nerves. Nerves in the body are used to signal muscles to contract. Botulinum toxin blocks this process so that the muscles are unable to contract, creating muscle weakness and paralysis.

    The diaphragm muscle is the muscle separating the abdomen and thorax. Its contraction plays a major role in breathing. Luckily, it is more resistant than other muscles in the body to the botulinum toxin, but once affected, a dog cannot breathe and, without therapy, will die.