From grass and toys to feces and roadkill, some dogs will eat just about anything. If you notice that your dog is consistently eating things they shouldn't, there may be reason for concern. Here, our Torrance vets explain why some dogs eat everything and provide some tips on how to curb this behavior.
Dogs That Eat Anything
If your dog won't stop eating everything and anything that it sees, know that you aren't alone. While this behavior can be stomach-turning, it's actually a reflection of your pup's natural scavenging instincts. Puppies, in particular, can be keen on eating things they find, including trash, stones and dead animals.
What Dogs Eat & Why
For people and pets, the term for compulsively eating on non-edible items is Pica. Dogs with pica constantly look to eat non-digestible items like dirt, rocks and sticks. It's generally believed that animals with pica may be missing essential nutrients and minerals from their diet. If you think your dog's urge to each inedible items may be a sign of pica, contact your veterinarian.
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 eat grass for a few different reasons. These include introducing more fiber into their gastrointestinal tract, to relieve boredom, or even because they enjoy it. If your pooch is eating an alarming amount of grass, however, you can always ask your vet about ways you can curb this behavior.
Dirt eating is a pretty common behavior in puppies. The reasons for dogs eating dirt are relatively unknown, but some speculate that different and appealing scents given off by dirt in different places may have something to do with it. It may also be that puppies use dirt eating as a way to better understand the world around them. If your dog takes to the taste of dirt, you probably have 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.
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 assessed with eating rocks, you should take them into the vet. This behavior may be a symptom of boredom, anxiety or attention-seeking. A veterinarian will be able to help you identify the cause of your dog's actions and advise you on some ways to curb your canine companion's strange fixation.
Pet owners often come to us at their wit's end with their dog's disgusting poop eating habit. "Why does my dog keep eating poop?!" In fact, poop eating is so common it actually has a name 'coprophagia' (kop-ruh-fey-jee-uh), and may be due to a combination of behavioral, genetic and psychological factors.
If your dog eats their own poop, this is generally considered harmless. However, eating the poop of other dogs or animals can be a serious concern. Parasites, viruses, bacteria and toxins may be transmitted through animal 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:
- Malabsorption syndromes
- Diets deficient in nutrients and calories
- Steroids and other medications
- Thyroid disease, and other conditions that can cause increased appetite
Other factors that can lead to poop eating in dogs:
- Restrictive confinement
- Isolation and boredom
- Inappropriate association with real food
Ways to Curb Your Dog's Unusual Eating Habits
Regardless of what precisely your pup enjoys munching on, there are a few things you can try to help curb this problematic habit:
- Teach your dog to 'drop it' and 'leave it' on command. Essential know-how for every dog.
- Clean your backyard frequently to remove any rocks, poops, or other items. If it isn't there, your pup can't eat it.
- 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.
- 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.
Your vet will be able to give your dog a nose-to-tail examination to check them for signs of illness, to speak with you about the possible causes of your dog's strange habits, and provide you with valuable advice about your pet's caloric and nutritional needs based on their breed and 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.