Puppies and dogs will eat anything they see including grass, toys, feces, and roadkill. If you discover your dog eating things they shouldn't you may have a good reason to worry. In this blog, our Grand Prairie veterinarians discuss the reasons why some dogs eat everything and ways you can stop this behavior.
My Dog Will Eat Anything
If your dog will eat anything, know you aren't alone in this. Even though your pup's habit can make you feel nauseous, remember it's a natural scavenging behavior dogs have. Puppies, in particular, can be more prone to eating everything they find such as trash, leaves, rocks, and even dead animals.
What Dogs Eat & Why
The term for eating non-edible objects for humans and animals is Pica. Dogs with pica practically have a compulsive urge to eat non-digestible items including rocks, dirt, and sticks. It's believed that animals with pica might be missing essential minerals or other nutrients in their diet. If you think your canine companion's urge to nibble on non-edible objects could be a sign of pica, call your vet.
Following is a list of the most common items dogs and puppies love to eat and whether you should be worried or not:
Dogs will often much on grass, however, some dogs enjoy eating grass more than others. If your pup is healthy, eating grass is usually considered to be safe on the condition that the grass is not heavily coated in chemicals.
It's believed that dogs eat grass for various reasons including introducing more fiber into their gastrointestinal tract, relieving boredom, or because they enjoy it. If your pooch is eating an alarming amount of grass talk to your vet about ways you can curb this behavior.
It's common for puppies to eat dirt. We don't know why dogs choose to eat dirt but it's believed that it's due to the different scents given off by different areas such as a field, forest floor, or your mulch pile. Eating dirt could be a way puppies better understand the world around them. If your canine companion takes to the odd taste of dirt there's probably nothing to worry about.
Although, eating large quantities of dirt can be problematic because too much could clog up your dog's digestive tract. If your pup loves eating dirt, talk to your vet about what could be causing this behavior and how you can stop it.
Lots of dogs love to eat and play with rocks, which can be a real health concern. Chewing rocks can damage your dog's teeth and gums, and cause choking which is a very serious hazard. If your pup is a teething puppy, try providing them with lots of fun chew toys.
If your adult dog is obsessed with eating rocks it's a wise idea to visit the vet. Rock eating can be a symptom of boredom, anxiety, or attention-seeking. Your veterinarian will be able to help you diagnose the cause of this behavior and recommend some ways to prevent your dog from eating stones.
Your dog could be eating dead animals because they are intrigued by the smell they give off, and the longer a dead animal sits the better it smells to the dog because the smell becomes stronger with time. Another reason why dogs can be putting dead animals and roadkill in their mouths is that they used to be bred and trained for, hunting, killing, and retrieving animals. Breeds such as labradors and golden retrievers could still have this instinct in them.
If your dog is only sniffing or carrying the dead animal their isn't much cause for concern unless it was poisoned or has a disease that could then be passed on to your dog. However, if your dog eats part or all of the dead animal, call your vet immediately and tell them everything you know about the situation ( how long the animal was dead, how much of it your dog ate etc.). Your vet will also ask you further questions to get a better understanding of the situation and then will tell you to bring your dog in or to keep an eye on them for any symptoms or odd behaviors.
Pet parents visit us often at the end of their wit's because they are disgusted with their dog's habit of eating poop. However, poop eating is so common it actually has the name 'coprophagia' (kop-ruh-fey-jee-uh), and this can be due to a combination of behavioral, genetic, and psychological factors.
It's generally harmless for dogs to eat their own 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.
One theory suggests that poop eating can 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 eat poop may 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 lead to your dog eating poop include:
- Isolation and boredom
- Restrictive confinement
- Inappropriate association with real food
Signs Your Dog Eats Too Much
Now that you know the reasons why your dog eats what they eat and what is and isn't good for them, you should know the signs that they have eaten too much of the items above or their regular food. Eating too much of anything can put their overall health and well-being at risk. Overeating can cause obesity, bloating ( which can be deadly for dogs), and even skeletal issues in puppies. Below we have listed the signs and symptoms that your dog has overeaten:
- They are lethargic
- Soft bowel movements at night ( when normal during the day)
- Abdominal distension
One of the most dangerous conditions that can develop in dogs that overeat is bloat, which can be deadly. When a dog bloats there stomach dilates and enlarges putting pressure on their organs which can lead to difficulty breathing, tears in the stomach lining, and restricted blood flow. If you notice any of the signs above or your dog is gaging not able to throw up, has a rapid heartbeat, their stomach is enlarging or your dog is restless after overeating call your vet immediately because this is an emergency. The faster you get your dog to the vet the higher chance of survival they will have.
What To Do When Your Dog Won't Stop Eating
Regardless of what your dog enjoys munching on, there are a few things you can do to try and curb these behaviors:
- Feed your dog at the same times every day.
- Feed your dog smaller meals more frequently to prevent hunger between meals.
- Give them puzzle toys that require them to solve a puzzle to get a treat ( this will get them to eat slower).
- Regularly clean your backyard to remove any rocks, poop, or other items. If it isn't there, your pooch can't eat it.
- Teach your dog to "drop it" and "leave it" on command. This is an essential command your dog should know.
- Increase your pup's exercise and enrichment throughout the day. A tired and busy dog is less likely to excessively eat and nibble on things they shouldn't.
- Bring 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 will be able to give your dog a nose-to-tail examination to check for signs of illness, discuss the causes of your dog's odd eating habits, and provide you with valuable advice on your pet's nutritional and caloric requirements based on your companion'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.