the bird is the word: hazards of dogs eating birdseed
You ask, we answer! From time to time we get policyholder questions submitted to our Ask Our Experts inbox, and we are always happy to answer them. This week’s question comes from a policyholder whose outgoing dog loves to eat birdseed. As soon as she opens the back door, her dog goes straight for the bird feeder to gobble up spilled seeds, and she wondered if she should be concerned.
Is birdseed safe for dogs?
The short answer is that she probably has nothing to worry about. But providing a short answer must also mean that there’s a long answer, too, right? Nothing in life is ever simple. In most cases, ingestion of a few scattered seeds is no big deal, but there are a few exceptions to the rule:
- Obstruction: You know these dogs--they will eat ANYTHING, and they will eat ALL of it that they can find. These dogs have been known to eat whole bags of birdseed. While this is an exception, it could also constitute an emergency. Large amounts of birdseed can clog up the intestinal tract, potentially causing gastrointestinal obstruction. These kinds of obstructions can be difficult to treat and will probably entail several days in the hospital for fluids and enemas until the bulk of the seed has passed, leading to a hefty hospital bill.
- Bloat: Another potential danger of ingesting large amounts of birdseeds is the possibility of the seeds fermenting in the stomach. Fermenting seeds may lead to gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV or bloat), which veterinarians lovingly call “the mother of all emergencies.”
- Toxins: Moldy bird seeds can contain hepatotoxins, and therefore may be potentially dangerous for your pet’s liver.
All of those things are rare, and if you have a pet who just can’t control her craving for the occasional bird seed snack, it’s probably not a big deal. If you want to err on the side of extreme caution, consider moving the bird feeder outside of your pet’s allowed territory (outside of the fence, for example) or where you know your pet will be under control on a leash (like the unfenced front yard). You could also consider getting a tray to catch the overflow seeds, thereby preventing them from landing on the ground.
If you have one of those pets who will eat anything, be sure to take extra precautions by keeping bags of birdseed safely out of reach. And to protect your pets from these types of accidents as well as illnesses, consider enrolling your pet in a veterinary pet insurance policy from Petplan.