Dog Diseases Caused by Bird & Rabbit Feces

Rabbit feces can carry several organisms and diseases that are dangerous to dogs.
Rabbit image by Bill from

Most diseases carried by birds and rabbits are transmitted through the dog's consumption of feces or urine from the infected animal. The best defense against your dog contracting any of these illnesses is to ensure that he has fresh food and water daily, and that he does not ingest anything he picks up while out on walks. Avoid contaminated mud and water, as well as areas where rodents, rabbits and squirrels appear to nest. If you suspect that your dog has eaten the feces of any bird or wild animal, have him checked out for these diseases. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease carried by rodents, squirrels, opossums and other mammals. The pomona and grippotyphosa strains of the disease are transmitted by rabbits through their urine, feces or the consumption of infected rabbit flesh. Dogs that come into contact with these substances can contract the disease, which causes fever, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, depression and muscle weakness. Leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics, but if left untreated it can cause the dog kidney or liver damage.


This parasitic disease of the liver and intestinal tract is common in rabbits. Dogs contract the disease by ingesting substances contaminated by feces from an infected rabbit, such as food or water. Some dogs display symptoms including loss of appetite, bloody diarrhea and dehydration, while other dogs have no symptoms whatsoever. A dog can also carry coccidiosis and transmit it to other dogs, particularly puppies, which are most at risk from dehydration and diarrhea. The disease can be treated with sulfa drugs, although most dogs eventually develop antibodies that create immunity.


Rabbits carry the parasite giardia duodenalis as part of their intestinal flora, and generally do not experience symptoms apart from occasional diarrhea. The parasite is secreted in their feces, however, and if a dog ingests the feces or consumes contaminated food or water, it may develop giardiasis as a result. Once inside the dog, the parasite makes its way into the intestine, causing diarrhea that is frothy, greasy, contains mucus or has a particularly foul odor.

Avian Flu

The presence of avian flu or H5N1 in bird feces can cause dogs to contract the disease. While transmission of H5N1 to dogs usually happens because of a dog eating the carcass of an infected bird, dogs can develop symptoms after ingesting water infected by bird droppings. Dogs can have severe symptoms including fever, panting and lethargy, and the condition can be fatal if left untreated.


Cryptosporidiosis is a parasitic disease caused by the cryptosporidium organism, which lives in the intestinal tracts of fishes, reptiles, birds and mammals. If ingested by a dog it causes mild diarrhea, which can be especially harmful to young dogs as the parasite multiplies. Treatment is difficult because the only drugs that have proved effective against cryptosporidium are either toxic to the dog’s kidneys or cause nausea and more diarrhea. The U.S. Public Health Service warns people who are HIV-positive to avoid contact with animals that could carry this disease, which can infect humans.


About the Author

Tracey Sandilands has written professionally since 1990, covering business, home ownership and pets. She holds a professional business management qualification, a bachelor's degree in communications and a diploma in public relations and journalism. Sandilands is the former editor of an international property news portal and an experienced dog breeder and trainer.

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