Do you have chickens and dogs at home? Are you wondering: do chickens eat dog poop? Should I keep my dog away from the coop? Read on to understand more about this and find out if there are any health risks.
Do chickens eat dog poop? If you keep both dogs and chickens, this might be a concern for you. If you have pets at home, you may see them eating their own poop or that of other animals. While it seems gross to us, it is not so for animals.
You might have seen your dog do this, and it looks disgusting to us. However, you will be surprised to know that this behavior is present in rabbits, certain bugs, and many wild animals. It is in fact so common that there is a term for it: Coprophagy.
According to Nicholas Dodman, a veterinary behaviorist, eating poop is a natural behavior and is usually not harmful for the animal. Therefore, it is quite common for your chicken to peck at dog poop, especially if your dog uses the backyard for pooping or goes near the chicken coop.
Should you be concerned about this behavior? Will it not cause diseases in your pets? Why do chickens (and other animals) indulge in this behavior? We will try to answer all this in the article below.
Why Do Chickens Eat Dog Poop?
Despite what you think, dog poop is nutritious.
Eating poop is a common behavior in wild and domesticated animals. But why do they do this? Poop usually has a lot of undigested matter, and animals may consume it if they have nutrient deficiency.
This is also why chickens may be interested in eating dog poop. Usually, the undigested substances in dog poop are seeds or similar material that digestive juices cannot break down.
Dog food is usually rich in protein. Certain breeds of dogs may have small guts, and thus, many nutrients pass out undigested. So, if your chickens feel that there are nutrients in the poop, they will consume it.
These nutrients in the poop will anyway go to waste, so if chickens can get those nutrients, the poop is safe for them to eat. However, this does not mean you should start making your dog poop into chicken feed.
Can Chickens Fall Sick After Eating Dog Poop?
Normally no, but there is always the risk of Salmonella and other diseases spreading from poop.
It is usually alright for chickens to eat poop, and they are unlikely to fall sick. However, poop is still a waste product, and therefore, there are certain health risks.
Germs are present in both dogs and chickens, and certain disease-causing pathogens can transfer from dogs to the birds and vice versa.
Chickens rarely fall sick when they eat dog poop. However, consuming an excess of dog poop may lead to infection in poultry, especially if your dog is ill.
E. Coli is a bacteria that easily spreads from poop. However, chickens will not show any signs of the disease. This is because they also have some of the bacteria in their gut.
Salmonella is another bacteria that can spread through poop. Chickens do not show symptoms of this infection either. But if the infection persists or increases, the chickens may become unhealthy.
If you are worried about the spread of disease in chickens, you can train your dog not to enter the area where you have the coop.
When introducing your dog to the chickens and helping acclimate them, you can keep feeding and play areas separately. This will prevent tensions, as well, because many dogs have the instinct to hunt birds.
As long as you keep the coop door closed and don’t allow the dogs to enter the hen yard, your chickens should be safe.
Is There a Risk of Salmonella if Chickens Eat Dog Poop?
As mentioned before, there is a risk of infection or disease in chickens only if your dog has it too. Bacteria present in your dog may pass through their poop, and if your chickens then eat the same poop, they may get affected.
Salmonella is one such bacteria present in dog poop and then passes on to your chickens when they peck at it. Apart from salmonellosis, other diseases such as Yersiniosis and E. Coli may also occur in your chickens if the bacteria is present in dog poop.
How do you understand if your dog has salmonella or other harmful bacteria? Well, you can never know, and that is quite worrying. This is why you should avoid throwing dog poop into the coop.
If your dog poops in the backyard and your chickens eat it, then you can’t prevent it. However, it is possible to prevent the chickens from consuming too much dog poop.
Now, as long as your dog is healthy, the risk of salmonella is comparatively less, and dog poop for chickens is relatively safe. But it is always better to take precautions.
How To Prevent Disease When You Keep Chickens and Dogs?
Salmonella can spread from various sources like eggs, chicken, pork, and even vegetables. Now, you may not notice symptoms in your chickens, but it may affect you once you consume poultry. Salmonellosis is an infection that can easily spread from animals to humans. So if chickens consume dog poop and get affected by salmonella, it can transfer to you as well.
So what precautions should you take? If you keep both chickens and dogs, you must take the following measures. These will help you stay healthy and keep healthy animals.
- Wash hands with soap and water after collecting eggs and touching the poultry.
- Keep dogs away from the hen yard or the chicken coop.
- Don’t allow chickens inside the house where the dogs are.
- If dogs stay in the house, keep all equipment related to poultry outside. Change your overalls before coming in.
- Separate feeding stations for dogs from feeding stations for chickens.
A Few Final Words
There is no reason to worry about chickens eating dog poop. It is normal, and it would be odd if they did not eat poop. All you need to do is make sure that you supply them with proper nutritious food.
Dog poop is not ideal chicken feed, and while they do look for nutrients in poop, they need other important food substances. Keep all areas as clean as you can, and you will have healthy animals.
Thank you for reading the article. If you have dogs and chickens, don’t forget to write in the comments about your experience. You can also share this information with others who want to keep chickens with dogs.
Did you know that possums can also eat dog poop! Read about this and more such amazing things related to your canine friends on our website. And don’t forget to share them with your friends!