dog ate a dead bird

Cora and the Long-Dead Bird

Yesterday, we had a beautiful morning here in Ajax and a busy day planned, so we decided to take the dogs for an extra-long morning walk. Weekend or weekday, Cora, our morning dog, wakes us sometime between 6:30 and 7:00, usually by whacking her tail against the carpeted floor, sneezing, shaking, and/or putting her front paws up on the bed and sticking her snout in my face or my husband’s. Saturday was no exception. We fed the dogs and set out on our walk before 7:30.

Don't let that innocent look fool you!

Our long walk was blessedly uneventful until we were within a kilometre of home, where Cora came upon a dead bird. We’d seen the flattened, dried-up bird on the sidewalk a few times in the previous week, and the dogs all had ignored it. Our guard eased, Cora seized her opportunity and in a motion quicker than almost any we’ve seen her make, she gobbled it up. She chomped maybe three times to our cries of “Drop it” and my husband attempting to fish around in her mouth for the carcass. She pretty much swallowed the little bird pancake whole.

The rest of the walk, we were filled with concern. Was the bird diseased? What had it died of? What bacteria might inhabit an animal dead so long? What would it do to our little Cora? Needless to say, we rushed straight home, eager to contact the vet to find out what action we should take.

Cora was her usual self—a slightly stinkier version, though. (I took to calling her “Birdbreath” the rest of the day.) When we get in from our walks, she wags her entire body in excitement. As much as she enjoys her walks (and she really does—she slows down significantly on the last stretch before our house and sometimes will even sit or lie down on a neighbour’s lawn), she loves getting home, too. So yesterday, she did the same excited wiggling, pushing her brothers out of the way when the drying towel came out (“Me first, me first!”) and hoping for one last walk treat (Rollover bits). She showed no signs of stomach upset or remorse.

What the Vet Said: It was 8:45 when we arrived home, and our vet clinic wasn’t yet open. I spent the 15 minutes of wait time surfing the Internet and reading mixed messages alternately causing me concern and easing my mind. Finally, once the clinic opened, we phoned. Shannon, a vet tech there, took the call. She has a hound, too, so she knows they’ll eat anything and everything. She told us at what point we should become concerned: if Cora began vomiting excessively. She said the unauthorized snack more or less equated a diet change. Feeding Cora a bland diet of rice for 24-48 hours—never easy at snack time with other dogs in the house—would help any stomach upset she might feel.

So our plans for the day changed. Wes and I were going to be dragon-boating as part of a fundraising initiative by TAGS, but we couldn’t both leave Cora in case she vomited; we didn’t want her consuming the bird twice. (It’s gross enough that she ate it once!) Since I’m the one who’s wanted to try dragon-boating for years, Wes sent me on my way and stayed home on vomit watch.

It’s now almost 33 hours later, and we’ve seen no signs of distress from Cora or her body (i.e., her poop looks fine :)), so tonight we’ll let her have a little bit of her regular food and tomorrow we’ll get her right back on her regular diet. Hounds!

Anybody else out there with tales of dogs eating worrisome stuff and what you did? I’d love to hear them! Please tell me about it in the Comments.