Sometimes we catch our dogs eating things that they shouldn't be, whether it's toys, things they find around the house, or roadkill. Our Fairhaven vets share some reasons why your dog is eating everything and how to curb these habits.
Dogs That Eat Anything
Most people will have to deal with their dog eating strange things at some point. Sometimes, while being a completely natural behavior, the things your dog decides to eat can be disturbing. Puppies are even more likely to eat everything they can possibly find. Your pup could eat things such as leaves, trash, stones, and dead animals.
What Dogs Eat & Why
Just as with people, sometimes your dog might have the urge to eat things that are non-edible. The term for this disorder is Pica. Pica can cause your dog to want to eat non-digestible things such as rocks, dirt, and sticks. It is believed that animals with pica may be missing essential minerals or other nutrients from their diet. It might be time to visit your vet If you think that your dog is frequently eating objects that they shouldn't be and are worried that your dog might be experiencing symptoms of Pica.
Below are some of the most common substances that your pup might be inclined to eat:
Grass is a common snack for most dogs. Allowing your dog to chew on grass is perfectly safe as long as the grass hasn't been covered in pesticides or insecticides, and your dog is healthy.
Your dog might be eating grass as a way of helping its digestive system as it is a great source of fiber. They could also simply be eating it for entertainment or even just because they enjoy it. If your pup is eating an alarming amount of grass speak to your vet about ways to curb this undesired behavior.
It is widely believed that dogs might enjoy the taste of dirt due to their sense of taste and smell being connected. There can be many scents in the dirt that the dog may want to experience from all different areas such as a field, forest floor, or your mulch pile. Exploring their senses by eating dirt could help your puppy explore and understand the world they live in. If your pup enjoys the odd taste of dirt there's probably nothing to worry about.
That said, eating large amounts of dirt can be problematic since too much could clog up your dog's digestive tract. If your pooch loves to eat dirt, speak to your vet about what might be causing the behavior and what you can do to stop it.
It is common for dogs to attempt to play with rocks when given the opportunity. Unfortunately, rocks can be a major health concern. Chewing rocks can lead to damage to teeth and gums, and rocks are a serious choking hazard.
If you have a puppy that is teething, it is much safer and healthier to provide them with an abundance of different chew toys for them to relieve the pain of teething.
If your adult dog is obsessed with rock-eating it's a good idea to head to the vet. Rock eating could be a symptom of boredom, anxiety, or attention-seeking. Your vet will be able to help you diagnose the cause of your dog's behavior and recommend some ways to curb your dog's appetite for stones.
Poop eating is one of the grossest but also the most common out of all the situations we see. Pet parents often come to us at their wit's end with their dog's disgusting poop eating habit. This habit has become so common that there hasn't actually been a name associated with it, 'coprophagia' (kop-ruh-fey-jee-uh). It is believed that this unwanted behavior may be due to a combination of behavioral, genetic and psychological factors.
Eating their own poop is generally considered harmless for dogs, however eating the poop of other dogs or animals is a cause for concern since parasites, viruses, and toxins can be transmitted through feces.
One possible explanation for poop eating could be that your dog is just exploring their natural scavenging instincts, developed as a survival tool for times when food is scarce. Through evolution, your dog has been hard-wired to eat anything they possibly can during times when food is scarce.
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 pup enjoys munching on, there are a few things you can do to try and deter them from this behavior:
- 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 give your dog a nose-to-tail examination to check for signs of illness, discuss the causes of your dog's strange eating habits, then 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.