Dogs are known for eating everything in sight. Whether you have a large dog who can jump up on counters and get into your food or a small dog who likes to lick everything you drop on the ground, dogs are known for eating things they’re not supposed to eat.
If you’re a dog parent, you’re likely familiar with your dog eating weird objects — both edible and inedible alike. Some dogs eat grass, others may try to eat their poop, and others may just eat whatever is in sight. While some of the substances our dogs eat are harmless, other objects can be dangerous and cause serious harm.
One popular non-food item that dogs may try to eat is rocks. Why do dogs eat rocks? This guide breaks down some reasons your dog may be eating rocks, whether or not it’s dangerous, and how to help.
Here’s what you need to know!
Why Do Dogs Eat Rocks?
Dogs can snack on all sorts of inedible objects, but rocks are a unique case. Why do dogs eat rocks? It could be due to a behavioral, psychological, or even medical problem. Below are the most common reasons why your dog is eating rocks.
One of the most common reasons your dog is eating rocks is a medical condition known as pica. Pica is an eating disorder that can occur in humans and animals, and entails eating non-food items. These items can include dirt, feces, rocks, grass, ashes, and more.
What causes pica? The most common causes of pica are nutritional deficiency like vitamin deficiencies, boredom and a lack of mental stimulation, anxiety, teething, or compulsive disorder.
If you suspect your dog has pica, it’s critical to get medical help right away. Eating non-food items can lead to serious health concerns like intestinal blockage and nutritional deficiencies.
Let’s break down how to identify the underlying cause of pica based on your dog’s rock-eating behavior.
If your pup has a mineral or nutrient deficiency, they may be eating rocks or dirt as a way to supplement the minerals in their body. Deficiencies are one of the leading causes of pica development.
If you suspect your furry BFF has a nutrient deficiency or imbalance, be sure to talk to your vet. They will run tests to determine which nutrients your dog is lacking.
An excellent way to help a nutrient deficiency is making sure your dog is eating balanced, nutrient-dense food.
Sundays for Dogs includes a wide range of nutrients and vitamins to boost your pup’s health and help them thrive. Take a look at our ingredients and enjoy a breakdown of the vitamins and minerals in each bite. Sundays provides human-grade, air-dried dog food to give your pup everything they need.
Lack of Cognitive Stimulation
A lack of cognitive stimulation is another reason your pup may be eating rocks or other inanimate objects. If your dog doesn’t have the enrichment they need to enjoy life, they may try to find stimulation through chewing on non-food objects.
A great way to address a lack of stimulation is to look for toys like a lick mat or a treat map to stimulate their senses and brain activity. You can also increase social interaction with other dogs.
Some animals, including dogs and cats, can eat non-food objects and develop pica due to stress. If your dog has separation anxiety, stress, or gets worried easily, this may contribute to their tendency to eat rocks.
There are many ways you can help soothe anxiety in dogs. If you suspect your pup is suffering from feelings of anxiety, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about your course of action.
Dogs may also like to chew on solid non-food objects to soothe their gums while teething. If your puppy is eating rocks, it’s likely a method of coping with teething. Simply find some teething toys for your dog and offer a therapeutic gum massage to help them feel better.
Lastly, some dogs may develop pica due to a compulsive psychological order. Be sure to talk to a trusted veterinarian about what to do if you suspect your pup has a compulsive disorder. It’s also essential to monitor their behavior closely.
Another reason your dog may be chewing on rocks is mere curiosity. Dogs can become curious, especially if another animal has marked their territory around the rocks.
Dogs use taste and smell as a way to understand their environments better. This can influence your pup to repeatedly chew on or eat rocks and other non-edible objects, even if it’s not connected to a nutrient deficiency.
One easy way to address this is to monitor your dog while walking or outdoors. If your dog tends to eat rocks, don’t leave them outdoors unsupervised. Even if you don’t think there are any rocks in the yard, your dog may dig and find them, resulting in danger and harm.
If your dog has parasites or worms, this may be the culprit for strange cravings like rocks. Luckily, there are easy ways to address parasites and worms in dogs. Our guide has everything you need to know.
Can Rocks Harm My Dog?
Many dog parents wonder whether eating rocks is dangerous for dogs. The short answer is yes. Rocks are some of the most harmful and hazardous items for our dogs to put in their mouths.
Let’s take a closer look below at some of the dangers of dogs eating rocks.
Rocks can wreak havoc on your pup’s teeth and gums. Dental hygiene is essential for dogs. Without proper hygiene, your pup can experience periodontal disease, broken teeth, abscesses or infected gums, cysts or tumors in the mouth, misalignment of the teeth, and more.
Conditions like periodontal disease can introduce bacteria and infection to the rest of your dog’s body, leading to intense pain and other problems. It’s critical to take accurate preventative measures to ensure your dog’s mouth stays healthy.
Chewing on rocks can break your dog’s teeth, lead to mouth sensitivity, and scrape the gums or inside of your pup’s mouth. Cuts in the mouth are a gateway for bacteria and germs to enter your dog’s gums and increase their risk for periodontal disease.
Rocks can also cause serious harm to your dog’s digestion. When your dog swallows a rock, the sharp edges can rip and tear into your dog’s intestinal lining and cause severe discomfort and health conditions.
Gastrointestinal discomfort can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Your dog will likely pass the rock they ate in anywhere from 8 to 24 hours, depending on how large it is. However, dogs can’t pass it without some pain.
Eating rocks can also cause intestinal blockage if the rock is too large to pass through the intestines. If your dog has a tendency to eat rocks and exhibits signs of discomfort or constipation, see a doctor right away.
Another risk to eating rocks is choking! If your dog tends to eat rocks, they may come across a rock too large to pass through their throat. If your dog eats rocks, they increase their risk of choking. If you aren’t home to help or cannot help, this can be fatal.
The Bottom Line: Keeping Your Dog Safe
Dogs can get into many non-food items, including rocks, dirt, and even grass. Eating rocks is a severe concern for dog parents. Not only can it lead to discomfort, but, in most cases, rock-eating can lead to serious medical problems. If your dog eats rocks, here’s what you should do.
If you suspect your dog has been eating rocks, pay a visit to your vet. Your vet will be able to help you understand why your dog is eating rocks and whether there are any present medical concerns to address.
They can also advise you on your course of action. For instance, if your dog is eating rocks as a way to supplement minerals into their diet, your vet can determine which minerals are missing from your dog’s diet and how to supplement their diet.
It’s also important to monitor your dog when outside. Whether you take them on walks, to the dog park, or let them roam free in your front yard, don’t leave a dog who tends to eat rocks alone. Watching your dog will help you catch them in the act so you can work on training and preventing your pup from eating rocks again.