Can Dogs Eat Birdseed

Can Dogs Eat Birdseed?

If you are an avid birdwatcher, or even if you just have a feeder or two out in the backyard, you may wonder whether it is all right for your dog to eat the seed, too. Our dogs are naturally very curious creatures, so Fido has likely sniffed around the feeders and inspected the seed that has fallen to the ground. Maybe your dog has even tried to eat it. Birdseed is safe for the birds, of course, but is it acceptable for dogs, too? 

The general consensus is yes if it is only a small amount. However, consuming large amounts of birdseed– or seed that is old or has been exposed to a lot of moisture– is unsafe for your pet and can potentially lead to some very serious issues. 

If Your Dog Eats Birdseed

First of all, it is important to try to avoid this happening at all. Of course, these situations are not always avoidable. If your dog does eat birdseed, you should try to collect as many of the details as possible to inform the vet and keep an eye on your pooch in the meantime. Eating birdseed can lead to some scary situations, such as blockages, bloating, and even a very dangerous type of poisoning. 

Blockages and Bloat

If your dog has consumed a large amount of birdseed, he or she will surely be dealing with an upset stomach. However, it can get much worse than that. Eating a lot of birdseed can lead to blockages in the intestinal tract and bloat. Bloat is not like our version of “feeling bloated”. It is a very serious medical condition that could turn deadly. Bloat requires the immediate attention of a trained veterinarian. 

Aflatoxin Poisoning

Aflatoxin poisoning arises when your dog has eaten a seed that is old or damp. The damp birdseed has likely begun to breed mould and aflatoxin, which then enters your pet’s body. This sounds gross but is also very dangerous because high levels of aflatoxins can cause illness or even death in canines. Aflatoxin poisoning can be shown by a variety of symptoms, including sluggishness, vomiting, a loss of appetite, diarrhea, and jaundice– which is a yellow tint to the eyes or gums due to liver damage. 

Additional Issues

Besides blockages, bloat, and aflatoxin poisoning, there are a few other issues that may arise if your dog is eating birdseed. For instance, certain birdseed mixes contain grapes and raisins, which are toxic to dogs and can lead to sudden kidney failure. Also, if your dog is eating the seed from underneath the feeder– which it likely is– it may be unintentionally consuming bird feces with the seed. Bacteria and parasites run rampant in feces, so this could lead to issues such as infections, diarrhea, and vomiting. 

What to Do

If your dog has eaten birdseed, or you suspect that it has, do not panic. Try to determine how much it has eaten and whether or not the seed was old or wet. Then, you should contact a veterinarian as soon as possible to get your dog checked out. Even if your dog is not exhibiting symptoms, it is wise to talk to a vet as soon as you can. Symptoms may show up later, and then you will be dealing with a bigger problem. Plus, the sooner you get your dog examined and treated, the safer he or she will be!

How to Avoid Your Dog Eating Birdseed

Of course, the next question is now how you can avoid your dog eating birdseed in the first place. The most obvious solution is to remove the bird feeders and, subsequently, the birdseed, from your property. This does not have to be the only way, though. You can try to maintain the feeders better by cleaning up the fallen birdseed more often or ensuring that you are only using fresh birdseed to avoid any potential aflatoxin poisoning. You can wash and sanitize the feeders too. Additionally, you could train your dog to “leave it or set up boundaries around the feeders so that your dog cannot get in.

  • Only use fresh birdseed that is free of ingredients like raisins and grapes
  • Clean up or sweep up any fallen seed
  • Sanitize the feeders every two weeks to avoid the spread of bacterias, and do so more often in wetter months
  • Add screw on trays underneath the feeders to catch fallen seed
  • Erect a barrier to keep your dog away from the feeders
  • Plant dog friendly ground cover that hides fallen birdseed

Frequently Asked Questions

Can eating bird seed hurt a dog?

Birdseed is not necessarily something that dogs should be eating, and it may cause blockages in their digestive system. Mouldy birdseed that has been left out too long can also be dangerous for dogs because the mycotoxins in the mould can cause tremors or neurological issues. That being said, a small amount of birdseed will not harm your pup.

What happens when dogs eat birdseed?

When dogs eat birdseed, especially a lot of it at once, they can give themselves an upset stomach or cause blockages in the intestines, which is very dangerous. These blockages can also lead to bloat. This is a serious condition that must be dealt with by a veterinarian immediately.

Why does my dog like bird seed?

Typically, dogs eat birdseed because they are curious or because they are hungry. If it is on the ground, the seed may also seem like food to them, whether or not that is what you intended! Try to keep your dog away from the birdseed or to provide a better alternative option for them to choose. 

What should I do if my dog eats birdseed?

If your dog does eat birdseed, it is important for you to contact your vet. This is especially important if you do not know how much of it your dog has consumed or if the birdseed was old. Early treatment can help to prevent more serious problems later on!

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