Why Do Dogs Eat Dead Animals

Beagles, pointers, hounds, and terriers are examples of canine breeds with a natural predation tendency. Both Labrador and Golden retrievers are naturally inclined to pick up dead birds in their mouths and bring them back to their masters.

Although this behavior may seem nasty to people, your dog will be very pleased of itself for successfully accomplishing its inborn task. Before considering training your pet, keep this in mind.

Why do dogs consume corpses?

The seven dogs of a Canadian couple who passed away in their remote Saskatchewan home provided food for them for more than a week. So, is it true that a dog would rather starve than disprove the proverb that a cat will happily eat its deceased owner?

Yes. There is no proof that dogs treat their owners any differently than they would any other dead body, and they are quite willing to eat human carcasses. Dogs are viewed as filthy in many cultures exactly because they like to scavenge human leftovers. Homer mentions dogs eating corpses nine times in The Iliad. Jezebel, an Old Testament princess, was defenestrated, and after her death, dogs ate her body. Because the body may be torn apart by dogs, there is evidence that ancient Romans thought the low-hanging cross to be a crueler kind of crucifixion than the high one. Some secular historians even contend that Jesus’ corpse was consumed by dogs and that his disciples made up the tale of his reverent burial as a coping strategy. Some Muslim groups in East Africa despise dogs because they think they ate the Prophet Muhammad’s body. Modern dogs behave in the same way, and many of them have consumed their deceased masters. Dogs scavenging family members have been the subject of several news stories, and additional incidents go unreported to the media. (Cat lovers: don’t be arrogant. Your cat pals aren’t much better.)

Dogs that consume the remains of their owners are simply carrying out their evolutionary task. Around 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, proto-dogs scavenged around the peripheries of human communities, eliminating food leftovers, feces, and other human waste. According to legend, humans discovered this was really helpful and allowed the least violent puppies to remain. These canine garbage-compactors probably treated corpses just like any other trash item. Nothing has changed for their offspring.

Some dogs start digging before their masters have even passed away. There are numerous cases of dogs consuming family members’ injured toes. Diabetes frequently affects the victims, making their feet numb, rendering them unable to feel the dog biting at them. Studies on epidemiology also call into question the idea that Fido would never betray us. Every day, more than 900 people in the United States visit emergency rooms due to dog bites, and more than half of those incidents take place at homes.

Finally, it’s significant that there were seven man-eating dogs rather than just one pet inside the Saskatchewan residence. Dogs tend to be more aggressive in packs (PDF), with more timid ones joining in after their more aggressive companions attack people, according to behaviorists.

Has my dog consumed a dead animal?

Dogs are built with the desire to hunt other creatures. Killing is a normal activity for dogs, and when they don’t, it’s only because people are there. However, the cuddly squirrels and cunning raccoons that your dog enjoys chasing can harbor dangerous diseases. If the animal is dangerous or is not permitted to hunt with a dog, you should be concerned when your dog has killed or eaten an animal.

Eating a wild animal—either living or dead—can be detrimental to your dog. Poison is frequently found in the bodies of dead rats or mice. Additionally, it’s likely that tiny mammals could be carrying fleas, which can spread to a dog or cat that comes into contact with them. As soon as you can, take your dog to the vet for x-rays. If the esophagus is sliced by bones, making your pet puke could be harmful. If any bones are harmful to internal organs if allowed to pass spontaneously, the X-rays will show this. The vet will have to undergo surgery to remove the bones if this is the case. Like a contagious worm or virus, your pet could contract poison if the animal you ate had consumed it. Make sure the veterinarian examines your pet for any hazardous conditions it might have unintentionally acquired when you bring it in. Always ask about recommended protocols and products for worm, flea, and tick prevention. There are a number of excellent products that are also quite simple to use on your own.

The Fish and Wildlife service in the US oversees canine hunting prohibitions. Dogs are prohibited from being employed in bear, deer, elk, antelope, and turkey hunting. Your dog is not allowed to hunt that animal if you are outside of the designated hunting season.

How is a dog’s mouth cleaned after it consumes a dead animal?

Barkley snuggles up next to you on the sofa because he is so happy to see you. However, his breath almost knocks you out when he gets close to you!

You might wish to wipe your dog’s mouth if he has poor breath or has been gumming anything filthy; feces appears to be a popular object for dogs to take up in their mouths. Your dog needs routine dental cleanings and care, but occasionally his gums, jowls, and tongue may also be holding onto debris and germs that makes them smell very bad.

There are various ways to clean your dog’s mouth, including routine tooth brushing, manually cleaning your dog’s mouth, and providing your dog dental treats or mouthwashes that will clean, sanitize, and remove any foul-smelling or ugly material. Remember that a dog’s saliva naturally destroys bacteria and removes it, so working with this built-in defense by giving chew toys that stimulate saliva production is frequently sufficient. However, if your dog’s mouth is exceptionally odorous or filthy, or just for your own peace of mind, there are further steps you can take to clean it.

Dog’s Perspective

Your dog believes that his mouth doesn’t need to be cleaned because his saliva does it for him naturally, and that’s fine as long as you give him something to chew on. However, you might not feel comfortable using the “saliva as cleaner option alone” if your dog has been mouthing filthy objects like a dead squirrel or has been digging through the cat litter box. Instead, you might wish to wipe out your dog’s mouth. Avoid unexpectedly inserting your hand or a huge cloth into your dog’s mouth. You don’t want to make your dog throw up in addition to the fact that they may find this startling and may react poorly, even defensively. It will go over better if you take your time cleaning your dog’s mouth with smaller objects like a toothbrush or a finger wrapped in gauze.

The Wipe It Out Method

The cloth or gauze can be filled with salt water, baking soda, or coconut oil before being wrapped around a finger.

Have your dog sit in front of you or hold him by sitting next to him and securing his face with your arm underneath his head.

To reveal your dog’s gums, teeth, and inside of lips, gently pull out his lips.

Wipe the tongue, gums, and roof of the mouth with your cloth-wrapped finger. To avoid making your dog throw up, avoid sticking your finger too deeply inside the mouth.

The Multiple Options Method

Offer pet supply store or grocery store dental goodies. Some contain flavors of mint that hide foul breath. Saliva production will rise, which will also eliminate and kill oral microorganisms.

Give your dog plenty of water to wash away any particles. You can destroy bacteria and refresh breath by putting dog mouthwash in the water. Pet supply shops in the area sell these products. Make sure you properly adhere to directions.

Use dog toothpaste and a toothbrush made specifically for your dog’s teeth, and brush your dog’s teeth every day. Regular teeth cleaning helps to maintain dental health by removing harmful substances and grime that may be stuck to the surface of teeth.

Use a child’s toothbrush or a dog toothbrush to gently exfoliate the gums and lips as you brush your dog’s teeth. To reach the nooks and crannies, pull your dog’s lips away from his gums. However, be kind and use a soft brush.

To get rid of any extra germs or dirt, wipe your dog’s mouth with a moist towel or dog wipe.

Caution & Considerations

  • Use of toothpaste or mouthwash meant for humans is not advised because it could be hazardous for dogs.
  • Do not force anything into your dog’s mouth, such as a huge piece of fabric, your finger, or a toothbrush.
  • Work carefully and confidently to help your dog become accustomed to having his mouth cleaned and teeth brushed.
  • Check for conditions that might require veterinarian attention, such as red, inflamed gums or broken, decaying teeth.


Although your dog has built-in mechanisms to keep his mouth clean, if it is exceptionally nasty or covered in something unpleasant, he could occasionally require a little extra assistance. You can clean it by putting a towel over your finger and gently cleaning it with baking soda, coconut oil, or salt water. Make sure not to choke your dog. As an alternative, you can add mouthwash to your dog’s water or use a dental chew to stimulate his natural salivation. Additionally, scrubbing your dog’s lips and gums while you brush his teeth every day will maintain his mouth healthy.

My dog eats carcasses; why?

For dogs, chewing is a necessary and normal action. Recreational bones serve as a dental floss and brush for dogs. The sinewy bones clean the teeth by dissolving tartar and reducing gum disease.

Additionally, chewing increases salivary enzyme synthesis, which prevents plaque development. Additionally, dogs who gnaw on bones are less prone to lick or scratch their own paws.

Raw bones are a good source of nutrients like calcium and phosphorus. In addition to strengthening the stomach muscles, eliminating bloating, promoting regular bowel movements, and avoiding anal gland issues, they provide advantages for the digestive system.

Chewing benefits dogs’ physical and mental well-being in addition to their bodily health. In fact, doing so can lower anxiety, which has been related to heart disease and high blood pressure.

How soon will a dog devour its deceased owner?

Tyler: Dogs have been the subject of similar reports. In one recorded instance, a woman passed away alone, and within four weeks, her two dogs—a Chow and a Labrador—had pretty well swallowed her entire body. Though occasionally it happens rather quickly. In one research I read, a young man had passed away, and his German Shepherd had begun chewing after around 45 minutes.

MD: Well, that’s really bad. Gow claimed that a cat might take weeks to use it, particularly if it had a more reserved disposition and, more importantly, if it loved its human enough to experience grief. But she believes that is very feasible.

Tyler: However, it is apparent that many individuals have pets besides cats and dogs. Because they’re in cages, it’s a little complicated in many of these situations. As a result, they would need to find a way out in our fictitious scenario in which your pet eats them.

Will my dog devour my child?

You shouldn’t have to worry about your dog eating her puppies if she is mature, healthy, and otherwise well-behaved. It’s an uncommon behavior with usually obvious underlying explanations.

It is regrettable, but canine cannibalism does occur. Thankfully, you won’t likely encounter it, and if you do, there are steps you can take to ensure that it never occurs again.

Is it okay for my dog to eat a squirrel?

regrettably, absolutely. The two most typical parasite diseases that dogs might contract by eating squirrels are roundworms and coccidiosis. A dog can eat roundworm larvae that use squirrels as hosts, to be more precise. Roundworm eggs will hatch into mature roundworms once they are inside a dog’s stomach and will then attack the dog’s intestines. Roundworms will cling to the intestinal lining of a dog and begin to feed on the nutrients the digestive system produces.

Roundworms are not visible, and they hardly ever move when evacuated in feces, in contrast to tapeworms, which are frequently discernible as tiny, white, writhing specks in dog poop. Many dogs have roundworm infestations but never exhibit any indications of it. The symptoms of a severe roundworm infection include weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. Having your dog’s excrement checked for roundworms at the vet is the only way to be certain that your dog is roundworm-free. If your dog does really have roundworms, the infestation can be simply treated with deworming medicine.

The term “coccidiosis” refers to a digestive infection brought on by one of the four types of coccidia protozoa. Coccidia, a tiny parasite that develops in the gut lining at first, seldom affects healthy adult dogs. In pups and older dogs with underlying illnesses, it can still result in severe diarrhoea, vomiting, dehydration, and stomach pain. Your veterinarian may run a variety of tests if your dog consumed a squirrel to rule out common infections. A “fecal flotation test that can detect protozoa under a microscope is used to diagnose coccidiosis.

Dogs can contract coccidiosis through swallowing soil or animal excrement carrying coccidia protozoa in addition to squirrels. Coccidia protozoa are resilient parasites that may endure weeks or months in the feces, soil, and other extreme environmental conditions. They are very resistant to heat, cold, and other harsh climatic conditions.

When your dog picks up a dead animal, what should you do?

There are diseases and injury concerns that should be addressed and steps that may be taken to prevent issues regardless of whether you’re walking a friend’s or family member’s dog, working as a dog walker, or beginning or running your own dog walking business.


Consult with legal counsel and insurance specialists to ensure that you have coverage for your personal injuries and obligations. Our beloved friends can experience health issues that require urgent emergency care, just like humans. You can make sure that your agreement with owners specifies what should be done when a pet in your care needs emergency veterinary treatment by working with your legal counsel and insurance specialists.

In case of an emergency where you can’t reach the dog’s owner, keep your client’s recommended veterinarian’s name and contact details close at hand. When you first agree to walk and care for their dogs, is the perfect time to ask your clients about their preferences during an emergency situation. By doing so, you may avoid trying to find out their preferences during an emergency when tension and emotions are at their highest. To ensure you are notified if your client’s preferences have changed, schedule time to address them frequently.

Learn some fundamental first aid techniques. While neither you nor your clients should anticipate that you would be able to provide the dogs in your care with veterinary-level treatment, having a basic understanding of first aid and some first aid experience are valuable resources that can assist save a pet’s life in an emergency. Take into account becoming certified in pet CPR.


Even something as easy as walking poses the danger of damage. Limit your walks to safe areas by avoiding the following: terrain that could burn a dog’s paws; hazards like broken glass or other sharp objects; terrain that is very uneven or has holes that could trap a person’s foot; ice, especially when it covers water; terrain where it is known that unrestrained, free-roaming dogs are present; and terrain that has a lot of wildlife activity.

To lessen the chance of fight-related injuries to the dogs or to yourself if you try to interfere, make sure that any dogs being walked together are compatible. Avoid interacting with strange dogs, especially those that are wandering free because they could be harboring a disease or they could attack or harm the dogs you are walking. Listen to our podcast to learn how to break up dog fights. Some dog walkers carry pepper spray as a last resort to fend off violent dogs, but exercise caution since it can be dispersed by the wind to unintended targets (including other non-aggressive dogs or yourself). The best strategies to prevent dog fights are to walk only dogs that get along with each other and to stay away from unsupervised, strange, or canines you know to be aggressive toward people or other dogs.

To avoid damage or escape, make sure the dog’s collar or harness is fitted properly. Some dogs must wear a harness rather than a collar due to issues affecting their airways, necks, or other body parts.

Do not walk a dog that is limping or displaying any other signs of an injury, such as swelling, localized heat, or pain. Instead, call the owner right once. The dog may still need to go outside to relieve itself, but unless otherwise told, limit your strolling. Follow the owner’s instructions regarding where and how the dog should be exercised if they are aware of the injury. In theory, injured dogs should only be exercised as directed by a veterinarian. Cut short the walk and inform the dog’s owner so they can arrange for their pet to be seen by a veterinarian if the dog sustains an injury, starts to limp, or exhibits other worrying symptoms (such as staggering or stumbling, reluctance or inability to walk, a wide-based stance, color changes to the gums, tongue, or skin, disorientation, or breathing issues).

Severe weather

The degree of heat and cold a dog can tolerate depends on their size, body type, hair coat, health, and other things. In order to avoid the hottest times of the day, brachycephalic (short-nosed) and overweight dogs may need more frequent breaks, shorter walks, or a change in walk schedule. Generally speaking, if you’re warm, the dog is probably even warmer. A dog may be experiencing heat stress if they exhibit unusually high levels of anxiety or weakness, seem less responsive to commands than usual, urinate more frequently, drool more, or change the color of their gums. Without prompt medical attention, heat exhaustion or heat stroke may result, and dogs may even pass away.

Consult the dog’s owner if there is any doubt about whether it is too chilly or hot to walk outside. Ask the owner for directions on how to walk their dog(s) in specific temperature ranges, including the length of the walk and when to go for it (to avoid the hottest part of the day during warm weather or to avoid the coldest times of the day during cold weather).

The tolerance of dogs to chilly and cold temperatures varies greatly. Smaller dogs, dogs with thin or extremely short coats, puppies, and old dogs are more susceptible to suffering harmful effects from the cold; some may even develop frostbite. If a dog exhibits symptoms of being cold, such as shivering, weakness, or diminished mental alertness, consider asking the dog’s owner about getting the dog a coat to keep it warm while out for walks in the cold. Seek emergency veterinarian attention if a dog displays symptoms of more severe hypothermia (muscle rigidity, shallow and slow breathing, collapse).

Additionally crucial factors include the pedestrian path’s temperature and quality. On really hot days, walking in the grass may be the best alternative because hot sidewalks, highways, and other surfaces can burn a dog’s footpads. Ice-covered surfaces can be slippery, and the shattered edges of the ice can be sharp enough to hurt the feet of dogs. Additionally, the dog’s feet could develop frostbite on a cold enough walking path. Dog booties may need to be used in cold or icy weather, and walk routes or lengths may need to be changed.

Dog bites

When walking a dog, exercise caution at all times to avoid any scenarios where the dog can bite someone. If a person approaches you and asks to pet a dog that you are walking and you don’t know how the dog will react to them, politely decline. If the dog has a history of biting people or other dogs, it should be kept away from potential bite scenarios and taken on separate walks. A muzzle may be required, however it should only be worn with the owner’s permission and be correctly fitted. It could be advisable to decline the business if you believe the dog poses a hazard to you or to other people or animals.

All dogs should receive the necessary rabies vaccinations because the disease can be spread through saliva and bites to people and other animals.

Zoonotic diseases

Zoonotic diseases are conditions that humans and animals can both contract. Examples include brucellosis, which is brought on by the Brucella bacteria, E. coli infection, leptospirosis, which is brought on by the Leptospira bacteria, ringworm, which is brought on by specific fungus, salmonellosis, which is brought on by the Salmonella bacteria, and toxocariasis (caused by the roundworm Toxocara).

Despite the fact that some viruses and parasites are shared by humans and dogs, all canines need to urinate and defecate (pass stool), ideally outside rather than in the owner’s house. The veterinarian of the dog should be consulted regarding who should and should not walk an infected dog, where to walk, and what level of personal protective equipment to wear. Some sick pets that are healthy enough to remain at home should only be walked by their owner or a designated caretaker, depending on the infection. Some people might not need such restrictions.

You can avoid receiving unwanted gifts from pets by maintaining good personal hygiene and taking a few quick preventive measures before meals and at the end of the day. You can take the following actions to protect yourself:

  • Wash your hands often by doing things like:
  • before consuming anything or smoking anything
  • after touching the dog’s dishes, blankets, or toys
  • after getting rid of the dog’s waste
  • between looking after various dogs
  • Use a hand sanitizer with an ethanol basis or thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. If your hands are obviously dirty (e.g., with dirt, excrement, etc.), wash them with soap and water; otherwise, hand sanitizer products should be used.
  • Do not allow dogs to kiss you on the face, particularly the mouth, nose, or eyes. Wash your face if, despite your efforts, you still receive a tongue-lashing.
  • Avoid eating, drinking, and smoking while walking the dogs.
  • Change into clean clothing, wash them, swap out your shoes, and wash your hands when you reach home.

A conversation with your doctor and veterinarian is necessary to determine the specific dangers and advantages of walking dogs for you if you are immunocompromised (have a reduced immune system due to drugs, illness, pregnancy, or other factors).

In order to decide if you will keep walking the dog, you must express any questions or concerns you may have about walking a sick animal and get clarification.