Does your dog have a rock-eating habit? It seems like a strange problem to have but this weird habit is common among dogs.
You may be wondering why your pup is doing this and if there's anything you can do to discourage the behavior. After all, eating rocks doesn’t seem like it could be a healthy habit!
To find out, we'll look at four reasons why dogs eat rocks and the potential dangers of ingesting them. We'll also provide tips on how to curb your dog's rock-eating habit.
4 Reasons Your Dog Eats Rocks
Eating rocks isn't the most typical behavior for a dog, but it's definitely more common than you might think. So why does your pup seem to have an obsession with stones? Well, there are four main reasons that could be behind this strange habit.
Your pup’s strange habit may arise because he’s suffering from a nutrition deficiency. The lack of a mineral or minerals may drive him to take up eating rocks as a way of supplementing his diet.
Help avoid this reason for rock-eating by providing your pup with well-balanced, nutrient-dense dog food.
The more intelligent your dog is, the more mental stimulation he needs. Without it, he gets bored and looks for anything and everything to entertain himself. For some dogs, this can mean eating rocks. It can also mean digging holes or destroying your furniture — so watch out!
The best way to avoid this issue is to ensure your dog gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. Chew toys, lick mats, and puzzle toys for dogs are all great ways to offer stimulation while you are away.
Curiosity and Teething
It’s fairly common for little puppies to chew on rocks for two reasons. First, they are little babies exploring their worlds. Putting things in their mouths is a way of exploring and understanding objects.
Also, puppies often have sore gums due to teething, and chewing on something can be soothing. Make sure they have plenty of chew toys on hand so they don’t take up rock chewing or something even more destructive!
Finally, rock-eating can be an indication that your dog has parasites. Having parasites can compel your dog to do all sorts of weird things.
If your dog is scratching or licking at their rear end a lot, this could be the culprit. Thankfully, a trip to the vet is all you need to diagnose and treat parasites.
The Dangers of Eating Rocks
As you might imagine, eating rocks can be a dangerous habit for your pup. Obviously, rocks are not meant to be consumed, and chewing on hard objects like this can damage your dog’s teeth and gums.
Aside from potentially breaking their teeth, rocks can also cause cuts that allow bacteria to wreak havoc in their mouths. Periodontal disease can be just as vicious in dogs as it can be in humans.
Additionally, the rocks can become lodged in the dog’s throat or cause choking if they get stuck in the digestive tract. Ingesting large pieces of rock can also lead to internal punctures, blockages, and other severe health problems that could require surgery or even prove fatal.
Even smaller stones can cause gastric distress such as vomiting and diarrhea due to the sharp edges scratching the stomach lining or irritating it internally. Therefore, it's important to discourage this behavior right away before any serious damage is done.
In addition to physical issues, eating rocks may indicate underlying psychological issues that need addressing too.
For instance, dogs with a medical disorder called pica might compulsively eat non-food items like stones because of mental stressors such as boredom or anxiety. If you think your pup has pica disorder then seek professional help from a vet immediately so that proper treatment can begin and prevent further harm from occurring in the future.
How to Curb Your Dog's Rock-Eating Habit
If your dog has taken up a habit of eating rocks, it’s important to take the necessary steps to curb this behavior. The first step is to figure out why they do it in the first place. Once you have an idea of what’s causing them to eat rocks, you can start working on curbing their habit.
If they are bored, make sure to provide plenty of alternative activities for your pup. Offer him a selection of toys, puzzle feeders, and lick mats. And don’t forget he needs plenty of interactive playtime with you or other animals. This should help keep them occupied and away from any stray stones laying around outside.
Additionally, make sure your pup gets plenty of exercise every day. A tired body and mind mean less energy available for rock-eating shenanigans!
Make sure that your pup is eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of nutrient-dense food. This will eliminate the problem if a nutrition deficiency is the cause.
If the problem persists then visit your vet. Your dog may be suffering from parasites or another problem that requires medical treatment. They will also be able to provide expert advice about how best to manage this behavior going forward.
If you’ve exhausted all your options and your dog persists, you might just have to keep him away from rocky areas. Choose dog parks with grassy areas instead of gravel. You might even have to rent an indoor space in extreme cases.
Behavior modification training with lots of positive reinforcement may also work. However, it will take time and patience on your part.
Kicking the Rock-Eating Habit
You may not think that rock-eating is too harmful, but it can be a very dangerous habit for your pup. Rocks can cause intestinal blockages, fractures, or even poisoning if they're infused with chemicals from the ground.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to help curb your dog's rock-eating habits. By understanding the root of the behavior and utilizing positive reinforcement, you’ll be on your way to having a rock-free pup in no time!
Visit the Off Leash blog at TryFi.com for more helpful articles about pet-parenting tips.
Would you like to learn more about TryFi.com? The Fi Dog Collar is a GPS tracking collar that not only tracks your dog's location, activity level, and sleep pattern, but also alerts you if your dog escapes. If your dog escapes, this is the fastest way to find him. Give the Fi Dog Collar a try today!