From toys and grass to feces and roadkill...some dogs will eat anything. If your dog eats things it shouldn't there may be a good reason to be concerned. Today our Pleasant Hill vets look at why some dogs keep eating everything and tips on how to stop this problematic behavior.
Why Won't My Dog Stop Eating?
If you're dealing with a dog who eats everything, know that you're not alone. While many pet parents find this behavior revolting, it is a natural scavenging behavior in our canine companions. Puppies are especially fond of eating things they come across, such as leaves, trash, stones, and dead animals.
What Dogs Eat & Why
Pica is the term used for eating non-edible items by both humans and animals. Pica dogs have an almost compulsive desire to eat indigestible objects such as rocks, dirt, and sticks. It is thought that animals with pica may be deficient in essential minerals or other nutrients. Consult your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog's desire to eat inedible objects is a sign of pica.
Below are some of the most common substances that our four-legged friend loves to eat:
Dogs will frequently nibble on grass, though some dogs prefer it more than others. Eating grass is generally considered safe as long as it is not heavily coated in chemicals and your dog is otherwise healthy.
Dogs eat grass for a variety of reasons, including increasing fiber in their gastrointestinal tract, alleviating boredom, and simply because they enjoy it. If your dog is eating an abnormally large amount of grass, consult with your veterinarian about how to stop this canine behavior.
Puppy dirt-eating is a common behavior. It is unknown why dogs choose to eat dirt, but it is widely assumed that it is due in part to the different scents emitted by various areas such as a field, forest floor, or your mulch pile. It's possible that eating dirt helps puppies understand their surroundings better. If your dog gets a strange taste of dirt, there's probably nothing to worry about.
However, eating a lot of dirt can be dangerous because it can clog your dog's digestive tract. If your dog enjoys eating dirt, talk to your vet about what's causing the behavior and what you can do to stop it.
Many dogs enjoy playing with and eating rocks, which can be dangerous to their health. Chewing rocks can cause tooth and gum damage, and choking is a serious hazard. If your puppy is teething, try providing him with a variety of fun chew toys.
If your adult dog is obsessed with rock-eating, you should take him to the vet. Rock eating could be a sign of boredom, anxiety, or a desire for attention. Your veterinarian will be able to assist you in determining the cause of your dog's behavior and will recommend methods to reduce your dog's appetite for stones.
Pet parents frequently come to us when they are at their wit's end with their dog's disgusting poop eating habit. Why does my dog continue to eat poop?! Poop eating is so common that it has the name: 'coprophagia' (kop-ruh-fey-jee-uh), and it could be caused by a combination of behavioral, genetic, and psychological factors.
Dogs are generally considered safe to eat their poop; however, eating the poop of other dogs or animals is a cause for concern because parasites, viruses, and toxins can be transmitted through feces.
According to one theory, poop eating is part of your dog's innate scavenging tendencies, which evolved as a survival tool for times when food is scarce. After all, a dog can't afford to be picky when there's no food to be found.
Some physical reasons that dogs may eat poop include:
- Diets deficient in nutrients and calories
- Malabsorption syndromes
- Thyroid disease, and other conditions that can cause increased appetite
- Steroids and other medications
Other factors that can lead to poop eating in dogs:
- Isolation and boredom
- Restrictive confinement
- Inappropriate association with real food
Ways to Curb Your Dog's Unusual Eating Habits
Regardless of what your pooch enjoys munching on, there are a few things you can do to try and curb the habit:
- Clean your backyard frequently to remove any rocks, poops, or other items. If it isn't there, your pup can't eat it.
- Teach your dog to 'drop it' and 'leave it' on command. Essential know-how for every dog.
- Increase your pup's exercise and enrichment throughout the day. A tired and busy dog is less likely to nibble on things they shouldn't.
- Take your dog to the vet for a full examination to look for signs of illness or to discuss solutions to behavioral issues such as anxiety.
Your veterinarian can examine your dog from head to tail for signs of illness, discuss the causes of your dog's unusual eating habits, and provide you with valuable advice on your pet's nutritional and caloric requirements based on your dog's size and breed.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.