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Why Do Dogs Eat Rocks?

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You’ve spent a small fortune on the very best treats for your dog, yet they insist on eating rocks. But why on earth would your dog want to eat a bunch of rocks when they have nutritious treats to eat instead?

You may be surprised to know that this is actually more common than you think.

It is thought that one reason why dogs eat rocks is because of a condition called pica. This is where their brain tells them to eat things that aren’t actually food items. Another reason could be that your dog is overly anxious or stressed.

This can manifest itself in your dog’s desire to eat rocks. They could also just be bored, or be suffering from a behavioral issue.

If your dog doesn’t have a behavioral issue or pica, then it could either be suffering from a parasite or a nutritional deficiency. If you want to find out the answer to your specific dog’s desire to eat random rocks, then you can take them to your vet. 

They can do an examination on your dog and run different tests to rule out any parasites or nutritional deficiencies and ensure that your dog is healthy. Chances are that they will also ask you about your dog’s lifestyle to see if this is a behavioral issue.

What is pica in dogs?

Pica is when your dog starts to eat non-edible items, such as rocks, socks, sticks, or grass. It is thought that pica could be linked to nutritional deficiencies, and there’s no known reason as to why dogs suffer from this.

Pica could pose a problem for your dog if it eats things that could cause blockages in its digestive system.

What happens when dogs eat rocks?

If you see your dog eating rocks, you’re right to be concerned. This is because depending on the size of the rocks that your dog is eating, it could lead to some serious health problems for your pooch. 

Broken teeth

When your dog tries to chew on rocks, this can of course damage their teeth. Particularly if they’re chewing on harder rocks! This could mean they have to have a ton of dental work done or even have teeth removed.

Dental work should always be done under anesthesia, which can also come with its own risks depending on the age of your dog.

Blockages

The size of the rock your dog has eaten can run the risk of blocking in their intestines. This will need to be removed by surgery, which means a pricey visit to the vets. These intestinal blockages can cause serious health issues for your dog.

They won’t be able to get the proper nutrition they need, which can lead your dog to become lethargic or suffer from vomiting. 

If you think your dog has eaten a large rock that has caused a blockage, you will need to take them to your vet straight away.

Upset tummy

You may think that your dog will be okay without a trip to the vet if they’ve only eaten smaller rocks. However, even smaller stones can cause a problem for your dog. These can irritate your dog’s stomach, which can lead them to experience diarrhea and vomiting.

Perforated colon or stomach

Another factor to consider is how sharp these rocks are. If your dog has managed to swallow a particularly sharp rock, this can perforate their digestive tract as the rock moves through your dog’s system.

You will need to take your dog to the vet if they are showing signs of perforation. These can include abdominal pain, dehydration, and vomiting.

Stopping your dog from eating rocks

Dog eating stones on a pebble lake shore.

It will be important to try and stop your dog from eating rocks so that they don’t cause themself any serious health issues. 

If you know your dog likes to try and eat rocks, you should try and avoid any gravelly areas or places that have a lot of rocks strewn about the place.

If they’re not near them, they can’t eat them. This might even involve changing your walking route to ensure your dog doesn’t eat anything they shouldn’t.

Another trick is to try and modify your dog’s behavior. You can try offering them an alternative to a rock such as a treat or a chew toy every time they try to eat one. Make sure to use lots of positive reinforcement if they do drop the rock and take the alternative.

If you’re concerned about any nutritional deficiencies that your dog may have, it’s worth taking them to the vet for a check up.

Chances are that your vet will be able to help you identify any issues which could be causing your dog to want to eat rocks in the first place.

If your dog does have any nutritional deficiencies, your vet can put them on the right treatment plan. If your dog has a parasite, the vet can help sort this out for you, too.

Ruled out any nutritional issues? Then you’ll want to ensure that your dog has plenty of mental stimulation to keep them occupied, as well as giving them sufficient exercise.

This can include giving them puzzle toys or training exercises to follow. You can even teach them tricks around your home.

Another thing you can do to prevent your dog from eating rocks is to give them plenty of love and attention.

Some dogs can eat rocks as a way of getting you to pay attention to them. So if you beat them to the chase, they won’t feel the need to eat rocks and potentially cause harm to themselves.

In summary

Who knew an issue like your dog eating rocks could be so complicated! If you see your dog trying to eat rocks, it’s best to discourage them from doing this. Eating rocks can cause your dog serious health issues.

The reason your dog is eating rocks could be down to a condition called pica, or it could be because of nutritional deficiencies or behavior issues. You can always take your dog to the vet to rule out any causes.