Every dog owner has had to pry something out of their canine companion’s mouth at one point or the other. You can always find these curious animals trying to gobble up any fascinating thing they see, especially as puppies. From swallowing tiny objects like lipsticks and earrings to large objects like chew toys and game controllers, these animals have all but perfected this act.
Bird suet, like the name implies, is meant for feeding birds. Unfortunately, this has not stopped many dogs from ingesting it. Luckily for you and your dog, bird suet hardly causes a toxic reaction. Most cases end up with the culprit suffering from tummy rumbles and diarrhea for a short while.
Can Bird Suet Kill My Dog?
Under normal circumstances, bird seed cannot kill your dog. Bird suet/seed can cause your pooch to have digestive issues like diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, or intolerance. However, if the seed is moldy or too much was ingested, your dog could show more serious symptoms like food allergy, intestinal blockage, and bloat. Furthermore, if the ingested seeds were contaminated with pathogens, your dog could suffer more severe reactions.
If your dog only consumes the suet/seed in little quantity, it is not likely that there will be any harmful results. There can only be serious problems leading to death if the suet/seed is already infected with some lethal pathogen or blocks the intestinal tract. If your dog ate a seed that was exposed to the atmosphere, you cannot tell what microorganisms the seed was carrying.
After long exposure to moisture and atmospheric air, bird seed can become damp. At this point, they would have harbored a considerable amount of fungi and molds. If your dog eats the suet/seed in this state, he could suffer from mycotoxin poisoning. Symptoms of mycotoxin poisoning include loss of balance, throwing up, diarrhea, fever, and sometimes seizures.
Why Would My Dog Eat Bird Suet/seed?
Curiosity and hunger are the two major reasons why your dog swallows anything. Although bird suet/seed does not look too much like dog food, dogs always want a taste of anything that fascinates them. Factors like underlying illnesses, improper diet, age, stress, and others can make your dog eat unfamiliar things as well. A good understanding of these factors will help you prevent such behaviors in your dog.
Dogs are known to be curious animals with sensitive and highly inquisitive natures. If your dog easily comes across bird suet/seed in the house, there is a natural tendency for it to want to sniff and nip at it. In this playing process, your dog can decide to swallow it.
Most dogs find birds attractive and tend to visit their nests or cages. The scent of bird feces could make your dog want a taste of whatever is in the cage (I know it sounds gross). Your dog can try out some tasty seed and poop at this point. Also, if your dog is starved, it will be more inclined to eat anything that seems appealing to it, including bird suet/seed.
What Happens if My Dog Ate Bird Feed?
There can be several health consequences resulting from the consumption of bird suet/seed. This depends on how much of it your dog ate and the condition of the suet/seed when it was eaten. If your dog eats a large quantity of the suet/seed, it can result in gastrointestinal tract problems such as stomach upset. In more serious cases, the consumed suet/seed can cause a blockage of the GIT, resulting in bloat.
Some bird seeds are made of raisins and grapes, such as sultanas, and these are very toxic to dogs. Your dog could also suffer an infectious disease if it picks up the suet/seed from a messy spot where the suet/seed has been mixed with bird feces. The feces could be a source of parasites and infectious pathogens such as bacteria, and once they affect the GIT, your dog will come down with an infection.
Your dog could suffer liver damage if he ate moldy bird suet/seed that has harbored toxins such as aflatoxins and mycotoxins. Aflatoxins and mycotoxins primarily affect the liver. In most cases, your dog will not show any symptoms for a while. Generally, the symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning include vomiting, loss of appetite, sluggishness, diarrhea, and jaundice.
What Should I Do if My Dog Ate Bird Suet?
The first thing to do if your dog ate bird suet/seed is to determine how much of it he ate and the condition of the suet/seed before he consumed it. This will determine if your dog will need urgent medical attention or if it is something you can handle on your own. If your dog only ate a small quantity of suet/seed, then you can apply the measures we will be discussing in the subsequent paragraphs. If a large quantity of bird suet was consumed, get your dog to the clinic.
Bird suet is composed of animal fat and bird seed and will not cause poisoning if only a small quantity is consumed. Your dog will only need enough time to digest it properly, and you should put measures in place that will hasten the digestive process. You should restrict food and only provide your pooch with water. This will help the stomach focus on digesting the suet/seed.
If you cannot restrict food, for example, for diabetic dogs, feed your dog soft meals that are easy to digest. While you do this, you should watch out for any side effects of the ingested suet/seed, such as abdominal swelling or inability to defecate, which might be a sign of gastrointestinal blockage. Reach out to your vet for advice even if the quantity of suet swallowed is small.
Dog Throwing Up After Eating Bird Suet
You need to call the attention of your vet immediately if your dog begins to throw up after eating bird suet/seed. It is inappropriate and risky to attempt to handle the situation yourself. Vomiting is a symptom of several gastrointestinal conditions, and you cannot be sure what you are dealing with. Whether it is a mild condition like nausea or something much more serious like aflatoxin poisoning, it is safest to reach out to your vet.
If the suet/seed that was consumed is infected with bacterial organisms such as salmonella, it could result in a health challenge. Vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and loss of appetite are symptoms of a bacterial infection in the GIT. In other cases, your dog may not even show any symptoms.
Vomiting is also a symptom of aflatoxin poisoning. This condition negatively impacts the liver and should not be taken lightly. Reach out to your vet once you notice your dog is vomiting after consuming bird suet/seed. Your vet will let you know how to control vomiting and also inform you about first aid practices required at such time.
Your companion is not the first dog to eat bird suet, and I can assure you that he will not be the last. Such situations are stressful yet inevitable for a pet owner. Reach out to your veterinarian and monitor your pet’s condition as best as you can. With the right treatment from the veterinarian and love from his owner, your pooch will be fine in no time.