From toys and plants to roadkill and feces, some dogs will eat just about anything. If your dog consistently eats things they shouldn't be, there may be a good reason for you to be concerned. Here, our Gilbert vets take a look at why some dogs keep eating everything and offer some advice on what to do to curb their behavior.
Dogs That Eat Anything
If your dog won't stop eating anything it can get its paws on, rest assured you aren't alone in this. While the behavior can be sickening to some pet parents, it's actually a reflection of our companion's natural scavenging behavior. Puppies, in particular, can be particularly keen on eating things they find, from leaves and trash to stones and dead animals.
What Dogs Eat & Why
For both pets and people, the perm for consuming non-edible materials. DOgs with pica have a nearly compulsive urge to each rocks, dirt, sticks and other non-digestible items. It's believed that animals with pica may be missing some essential dietary minerals or nutrients. If you think that your dog's urge to eat non-edible items could be a sign of pica, contact your vet.
Below are some of the most common substances that our four-legged friend love to eat:
Dogs will often nibble on grass, although some dogs enjoy grass eating more than others. Provided that your pooch is otherwise healthy, eating grass is generally considered to be safe provided that the grass is not heavily coated in chemicals.
It's generally held that dogs will eat grass for a number of different reasons, including adding fiber into their diets, relieving boredom or even just because they enjoy it. If your dog enjoys eating an odd amount of grass, ask your vet about ways to curb their behavior.
Eating dirt is a quite common behavior in puppies. Why our dogs choose to eat dirt, we don't know but it may be incited by the scents given off by different areas like forests, fields or mulch piles. Eating dirst may also help puppies better understand the world around them. You probably have no reason to be worries if your puppy loves to eat dirt now and again.
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.
Many dogs love to play with and eat rocks, which can be a real health concern. Chewing rocks can lead to damage to teeth and gums, and choking is a very serious hazard. If your dog is a teething puppy, try supplying your pooch with lots of fun chew toys.
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.
Pet owners will often come to us, distressed, because their dog consistently eats poop. In fact, in dogs, poop eating is so common, it actually has its own name: 'coprophagia' (kop-ruh-fey-jee-uh). It 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 theory suggests that poop eating could be part of your dog's innate scavenging tendencies, developed as a survival tool for times when food is scarce. After all, when there is no food to be found a dog just can't afford to be too picky.
Some physical reasons that dogs may eat poop include:
- Diets deficient in nutrients and calories
- Malabsorption syndromes
- Steroids and other medications
- Thyroid disease, and other conditions that can cause increased appetite
Other factors that can lead to poop eating in dogs:
- Isolation and boredom
- Inappropriate association with real food
- Restrictive confinement
Ways to Curb Your Dog's Unusual Eating Habits
No matter what your pup enjoys munching on, there are a few things you can do to try and curb this problematic 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 vet will be able to give your dog a nose-to-tail exam to check for signs of illness, to discuss the causes of your pup's strange eating habits and provide you with advice about what your dog's nutritional requirements are based on their breed and their size.
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.