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Health & Wellness

Is it OK for dogs to eat birdseed?

Here’s how to prevent dogs from eating birdseed, too.

Have you opened up your backyard to other animals besides your dog? If you’re using birdseed to attract birds and now your outdoor spaces have become a birdie hotspot, chances are some bits may fall on the ground. Therefore, you’ll want to know if this bird-friendly treat is also safe for dogs to eat. 

The answer is: If your pup eats a little birdseed, they’ll likely be OK, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, says. However, there are some things to be cautious about if your dog eats too much of this bird snack. 

Is birdseed bad for dogs? 

While this snack isn’t technically bad for dogs, there are some things you should watch out for if your pup happens to get into birdseed. 

Obstructions

Dogs are known to get into everything, and if they enjoy the taste of birdseed after sneaking a bite, there’s a chance they could consume the entire bag. Eating large amounts of birdseed could cause gastrointestinal obstruction (similar to the effect of dogs eating a chicken bone). 

Obstructions can often cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomachaches (or belly pain) and lethargy, Dr. McCullough explains. If it occurs, it’s important to see your veterinarian as soon as possible because obstructions can sometimes mean that pets need to stay in the hospital for intensive monitoring and even surgery. 

Bloating

Birdseed can sometimes ferment in a dog’s stomach and cause bloating. If you think your pup is experiencing bloating after eating birdseed, watch out for abdominal pain, a bloated belly area, lethargy and difficulty breathing.

Bloating is an emergency, so you’ll want to seek help immediately if you notice symptoms, Dr. McCullough says. 

Toxins

Throw away any birdseed that’s gotten moldy (it can also become moldy on the ground), Dr. McCullough urges. Moldy birdseed contains toxins, and when dogs eat it, they can experience muscle tremors, incoordination and convulsions. See your veterinarian immediately if you think your pup ate unsafe birdseed.

RELATED: Poisonous house and yard plants that aren’t safe for dogs

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How to prevent dogs from eating birdseed

Your pup will likely be OK if they manage to eat a small amount of birdseed, Dr. McCullough says. However, if you want to be super careful, there are some ways to prevent your sneaky pup from eating this snack altogether. 

Consider moving the bird feeder outside of your backyard or to an area where you know your pup will be wearing a leash. Another option is to look in your local pet store or online for a tray underneath the bird feeder to catch the rogue birdseed.

When it comes to your bag of birdseed, keep them out of reach and stored away in a locked garage, shed or basement, Dr. McCullough suggests.

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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