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Why does my dog eat everything off the ground?

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 Blountville vets look at why some dogs keep eating everything and tips on how to stop this problematic behavior.

Why won't my dog stop eating?

If you have a dog who eats everything, know that you are not alone. While this habit is repulsive to many pet parents, it is a natural scavenging tendency in our canine pets. Puppies love to eat anything they come encounter, including leaves, rubbish, stones, even dead animals.

What Dogs Eat & Why

Pica is a name for both humans and animals who devour non-edible stuff. Pica dogs have a near-obsessive drive to consume indigestible things such as rocks, mud, and sticks. Pica-affected animals may be lacking in vital minerals or other nutrients. If you feel that your dog's tendency to consume inedible objects is a sign of pica, consult your veterinarian.

Below are some of the most common substances that our four-legged friend loves to eat:

Grass

Dogs will frequently nibble on grass, though some dogs prefer it more than others. Eating grass is generally considered safe as long as it is not heavily coated in chemicals and your dog is otherwise healthy.

Dogs consume grass for a variety of reasons, including increasing fiber in their digestive tract, relieving boredom, and simply enjoying it. If your dog is eating an unusually big amount of grass, talk to your vet about how to stop this canine behavior.

Dirt 

Puppy dirt-eating is a common occurrence. It is unknown why dogs eat dirt, however it is usually considered that it is due to the diverse aromas generated by different regions such as a field, forest floor, or your mulch pile. Eating dirt may help puppies better grasp their surroundings. There's generally nothing to worry about if your dog develops a weird taste of dirt.

However, eating a lot of dirt can be dangerous because it can clog your dog's digestive tract. If your dog enjoys eating dirt, talk to your vet about what's causing the behavior and what you can do to stop it.

Rocks

Many dogs enjoy playing with and eating rocks, which can be dangerous to their health. Chewing rocks can cause tooth and gum damage, and choking is a serious hazard. If your puppy is teething, try providing him with a variety of fun chew toys.

You should take your adult dog to the vet if he is fascinated with rock-eating. Rock eating may indicate boredom, nervousness, or a need for attention. Your veterinarian can help you determine the source of your dog's behavior and will prescribe measures to curb your dog's taste for stones.

Poop

Pet parents frequently come to us when they've had enough of their dog's unsightly poop eating habit. Why does my dog keep eating poop?! Poop eating is so prevalent that it has its own term: 'coprophagia' (kop-ruh-fey-jee-uh), and it may be caused by a mix of behavioral, genetic, and psychological causes.

Dogs are generally considered safe to eat their 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.

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:

  • Parasites
  • Diets deficient in nutrients and calories
  • Malabsorption syndromes
  • Diabetes,
  • Cushing’s
  • 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
  • Anxiety
  • Attention-seeking
  • 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 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 examine your dog from head to tail for symptoms of sickness, discuss the causes of your dog's unique feeding habits, and provide you helpful advise on your pet's nutritional and caloric needs based on the size and breed of your dog.

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.

Has your pup eaten something off the ground they shouldn't have? Contact us today. Our experienced Blountville vets are here 24/7 in case of emergency.

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Airport Pet Emergency Clinic is open weekday evenings, overnight, weekends and holidays to provide your pet with urgent care when needed. Our experienced Blountville vets are passionate about caring for companion animals.

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