DOGS EATING STICKS AND STONES AND OTHER THINGS
Here are three articles from different veterinaries
If your dog has a puzzling inclination to put his mouth on -- and actually eat -- the strangest of
random items, he definitely isn't the only one in the world. The consumption of foreign objects
is a compulsive condition that is actually called "pica."
When a dog develops a bizarre penchant to eat things that, simply put, are inedible to most, he
may just be experiencing a type of compulsive disorder known as pica. Pica is in no way
exclusive to dogs, and can also affect human beings and cats. If you spot your pet chewing
down on blankets, sweaters, grass, stones, plastic bags, rubber bands, fecal matter or
practically anything else under the sun, pica may just be the culprit.
As for the specific causes of pica, the Humane Society of the United States indicates that they
are as yet uncertain. However, the disorder is often associated with a variety of things,
including the desire for attention, curbing boredom and dealing with anxiety. If a dog is still a
puppy, pica may simply be classic curious exploratory behavior that fades away with a little bit
Many circumstances in a dog's life may be linked with the emergence of compulsive behavior
like pica, whether abandonment or abuse, past trauma, lack of attention or insufficient
Pica may also be linked with a variety of health ailments. In some cases, your poor dog's
bizarre eating habits may just be beyond his control. If you notice your dog eating foreign
objects, take him to the veterinarian immediately to figure out exactly what may be wrong. He
could be suffering from a dietary deficiency, gastrointestinal parasites, poisoning or a
It's up to you as a pet owner to take control of your doggie's pica. After all, the condition is no
laughing matter. A dog's swallowing random objects can often be a recipe for medical
emergency. In some cases, it can even cause fatal intestinal obstruction. Employ a few
techniques to discourage your dog against eating foreign objects, such as spraying harmless
flavor deterrents over preferred "eating" items, investing in some exciting new toys to take his
focus off of eating said items, encouraging daily mental and physical fitness sessions and
placing inedible things out of his reach. If you are concerned that your dog's pica may be an
especially severe situation that requires professional attention, talk to your vet regarding
recommendations for certified and qualified pet behavioural experts near you.
Dogs are scavengers by nature and may eat anything they come across. They have no idea, nor
can you explain to them that eating something they find on the ground may be dangerous.
Chewing rocks can damage your dog's teeth and cut the inside of her mouth. Swallowing
stones may create an intestinal blockage, lead to vomiting and diarrhoea, or cause your dog to
choke. Some veterinarians think a dog who has swallowed and not eliminated rocks over a
period of time has a 50/50 chance of survival. Eating rocks can be fatal! Many people whose
dogs eat rocks have successfully altered or stopped this behaviour by using the methods
suggested in this article. With patience, luck and determination, you will find the best way to
stop your dog from eating stones.
Why Does Your Dog Eat Stones?
It's natural for puppies and dogs to use their mouths to explore their surroundings.
A dog who eats stones may be acting out of boredom, anxiety or frustration.
Your dog may be ill, in pain, in need of exercise or lonely.
She may have a condition called pica, which causes people or animals to compulsively eat
Gather a variety of tempting chew toys and rotate them every few days so they always appear to
be "new" to your dog. You don't have to buy expensive new toys. Thrift stores often have toys
and balls dogs can play with, but check carefully to make sure there is nothing that can choke
For some dogs, attention, exercise and training may help curb the habit. Try diversionary
tactics such as providing toys that are made specifically for dogs who need and love to chew.
Unfortunately, diversion won't work with dogs who fixate on specific items; the only solution in
these cases is to remove the objects so the dog has no access to them.
Teach your dog the command "Leave it!" After you give the command, you must make sure your
dog does not touch or pick up the item. When she listens and leaves the object alone, it is
crucial that you immediately reward her with something she really likes. Practice this over and
If you catch your dog eating rocks, try startling him by shaking an aluminium can filled with
coins or taking aim with a squirt bottle filled with cold water. Do not let your dog see you
rattling the can or spraying the water, because you do not want him to associate your presence
with the unpleasant noise or water. You want him to associate the negative experience with the
rock-eating behaviour. Always praise him when he leaves items alone.
Cover some stones with a layer of bitter apple solution, and put the rocks where your dog is
likely to spend time. Most dogs hate the taste of bitter apple, and if you add one sharp "NO!" at
the moment your dog notices the bad taste, your dog may eventually associate the bitter flavor
with your rebuke.
As soon as your dog drops the stone, give her a treat, preferably something satisfying she can
chew on for a while. This process will take some time, so be patient. You are trying to
convince your dog that something she really enjoys is no longer enjoyable.
Just as you dog-proof the inside of your house, you can dog-proof your yard. For each danger in
the yard, you have to decide whether to remove the object(s), fence off the area where the
objects are, create a fenced area in the yard for your dog, or supervise your dog whenever she
is in the yard.
Another way to keep your dog from eating stones is to separate the dog from rocks, stones and
coarse gravel. If you can't remove the rocks, then put a barrier or fence around them. This may
sound extreme, but dogs who chew on and swallow rocks are at risk for internal damage,
blockages requiring major surgery, and in the most serious cases, death.
Yelling or punishment in direct response to stone eating may inadvertently provide the
attention your dog is seeking when she eats stones. Some dogs will even stop eating rocks
when their owner is nearby, but return to eating them when their owner is away.
Be very careful about giving dogs bones or food to chew outdoors, with the hope that this will
keep their attention away from the inedible items. If a dog lies on the rocks to eat, then, when
he is finished eating, the rocks will taste like the delicious bone or treat, and may be the next
thing your dog eats.
If your dog is left alone most of the day, she is probably bored and lonely. Try spending more
time with her, including walks and active play. Providing your dog with exercise, activity and
attention may help make her too tired and happy to rely on rock eating for entertainment.
When going for walks, keep your dog leashed to stop her from wandering off and eating non-
Try using a head halter ((e.g., Gentle Leader or Halti), which will help you keep your dog from
scavenging on the ground as you walk.
If you go to off-leash areas and allow your dog run loose, try muzzling her first. Doing so will
prevent your dog from eating forbidden items when she is exploring. Never leave your dog
unsupervised while she's wearing a muzzle.
MEDICAL ISSUES AND SOLUTIONS
Medical reasons, such as disorders of the intestinal tract, nutrient or enzyme deficiencies,
diabetes mellitus, or other illnesses may cause indiscriminate eating behavior.
Homeopathy, acupressure, acupuncture and herbs have helped some dogs who suffer from
pica, the condition that includes stone eating and the consumption of other inedible objects.
Your dog may attempt to eat small stones when he is suffering from bloat, a painful condition
that is a very serious and potentially fatal health risk for dogs.
If you do not succeed at changing your dog's habits on your own and your veterinarian finds no
underlying illness that could be causing the stone-eating behavior, your vet may consider
diagnosing your dog with obsessive-compulsive disorder, for which antidepressants may be
Have you ever heard the expression “eat like a dog” or “dogs eat anything?” Ever wonder
where those stem from? If you own a dog, you know firsthand that from time to time they get
curious and occasionally try to ingest something that they shouldn’t.
We’ve all heard horror stories of a dog having to be rushed to the ER to have his stomach
pumped, or know of a person whose pup has passed a foreign object and was back to normal
immediately after. What should you do if your dog eats something that he shouldn't? Should
you take him to the vet or wait to see if it passes in his stools? Check out our suggestions
SIGNS YOUR PET ATE SOMETHING FOREIGN
If your dog is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, it may mean that he ingested
something foreign or toxic:
•Vomiting (usually starts as food and proceeds to water) or gagging
•Lack of appetite
•Changes in typical behaviour
•Changes in bowels — diarrhoea, constipation
GO TO THE VET IMMEDIATELY
If your dog ingests a foreign object, you should take her to the vet. If your normal vet is
unavailable, call a 24-hour emergency animal clinic and describe the situation. According to
Shari Brown, DVM, the best measure is to allow the professionals to properly assess the
situation. “Owners should not wait to see if the object will pass on its own. Do not try to
induce vomiting without a veterinarian’s okay, as there are some foreign bodies that can cause
just as much harm coming back out.”
If the veterinarian suspects that a foreign object has been ingested, they will order X-rays to
determine the appropriate method of treatment. Depending on the severity of the situation, a
vet may able to help your dog pass the object by inducing vomiting.
Some objects may need to be removed through endoscope. If that is the case, the vet will
place a long tube down your dog’s throat and will remove the object from her stomach. “This
is non-invasive, involves less risks, and the only recovery time is from the anesthesia,” says
If the object has passed through the stomach and into the intestines, however, a more invasive
surgery may be required. “There are less complications if the object can be gotten out of the
stomach than out of the intestines. If an intestinal obstruction occurs, there is a risk of having
to remove some of the intestines, which increases the chance of complications.”
HOW TO PREVENT YOUR PET FROM EATING FOREIGN OBJECTS
The best way to keep your dog from ingesting foreign objects is to take preventative
measures. Brown says that one of the easiest things to do if an owner knows that their dog is
prone to eating certain foreign objects is to not allow access to them. “I personally have had
many owners tell me that their dog chews their stuffed toys, swallows the stuffing, etc. If that
happens, don't give your dog stuffed toys anymore. There are other toys that he can be given
instead that he hopefully will not ingest.”
She also advises that people “dog-proof” their house to limit access to objects. “I typically tell
owners it's like having a baby. When you have a baby, you have to be diligent about keeping
doors closed, things off the floor and out of the baby's reach.
“When you have a dog (that) likes to consume everything, you need to do the exact same thing.
You may need to get baby locks for cabinets and such to keep your dog from opening them,
but locks are a whole lot cheaper than a potential two to three thousand [dollar] emergency