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 Clarksville vets look at why some dogs keep eating everything and share tips on how to stop this problematic behavior.
Why won't my dog stop eating?
If you have a dog who eats everything, know you're not alone. While many pet parents find this behavior repulsive, it is a normal scavenging behavior in our canine companions. Puppies especially enjoy eating things they come across, such as leaves, trash, stones, and dead animals.
What Dogs Eat & Why
Pica refers to the consumption of non-edible items by both humans and animals. Pica dogs have an almost compulsive desire to consume indigestible objects like rocks, dirt, and sticks. It is believed that animals with pica may be deficient in essential minerals or other nutrients. If you suspect that your dog's desire to eat inedible objects is indicative of pica, consult your veterinarian.
Below are some of the most common substances that our four-legged friend enjoys eating:
Eating grass is generally considered safe as long as it is not heavily treated with chemicals, and your dog is otherwise healthy.
Dogs eat grass for a variety of reasons, including increasing fiber in their digestive tract, reducing boredom, and simply enjoying it. If your dog is eating an unusually large amount of grass, talk to your vet about how you can get them to stop.
Puppies often engage in the behavior of eating dirt. The reason behind this preference remains a mystery, but many believe it is linked to the distinct scents found in different environments, like a field, forest, or even a mulch pile. Puppies may gain a better understanding of their surroundings by consuming dirt. There's likely no cause for concern if your dog suddenly develops a peculiar taste for dirt.
However, excessive consumption of dirt can pose a risk as it may obstruct your dog's digestive tract. If your dog has a fondness for devouring dirt, it would be wise to consult your veterinarian regarding the underlying cause of this behavior and explore potential solutions to put an end to it.
Dogs often find joy in playing with and consuming rocks, posing a potential risk to their well-being. Chewing rocks can lead to tooth, gum damage, and choking.
If your dog has developed a concerning habit of eating rocks, it would be wise to schedule a visit to the vet. When they eat rocks, it may indicate feelings of boredom, anxiety, or a need for attention. Consulting with your veterinarian will help identify the root cause of your dog's behavior, and they can provide guidance on curbing this inclination.
Pet parents frequently come to us when they are at their wit's end with their dog's disgusting poop-eating habit. Poop eating is so common that it has a name: 'coprophagia' (kop-ruh-fey-jee-uh). It can 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. 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
- Cushing’s Disease
- 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 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.