Shoes, clothes, furniture, toys, and even roadkill; it can be frustrating when your dog chews up everything in sight! Dog owners should know what causes this behavior and how they can minimize it. Here, our Nashua vets share potential reasons your dog eats everything and what you can do to stop it.
If it's not food, why do they eat it?
Most people have heard of dogs being very food-motivated. So, it can be confusing when your pup takes more to eating inedible objects over food. You might wonder, "Why does my dog eat everything?" In many cases, the answer is pica. Pica is a relatively common disorder that causes your dog to eat things that are not food, such as socks, shoes, or toys.
A dog having pica is not the same as chewing on something for attention, it is more of an obsessive desire to eat objects, including ones that might include proteins your dog is lacking in their diet, like sticks, sand and grass.
Pica not only destroys your favorite belongings, but many of the things your dog eats can be unsuitable or dangerous to consume. They can lead to an obstruction of the intestines which would result in emergency surgery to save your dog's life.
If you feel that your dog might be displaying symptoms of pica, contact your vet right away.
Similar to infact humans, puppies explore the world with their mouths. Unfortunately, a common non-food item that puppies will try to eat is feces. Not only is this unappealing, but it can also cause your puppy to become sick as the feces may have parasites.
Thankfully, many puppies will outgrow this unhealthy and somewhat disgusting habit, although you may need to help with training to curb this behavior.
Many adult dogs will eat whatever they come across while out on a walk or whatever may be lying around the house.
Like puppies, they like to explore new items by picking them up with their mouth or chewing on them. Or, unrelated to pica, a dog may only be trying to play with something and accidentally swallow it.
Aside from pica, there are other reasons your dog may be eating non-food items. Some possibilities include:
- Attention-seeking behavior
- Stress or anxiety
- Old habits from puppyhood
- Health reasons
The good news is that many of the causes can be addressed through behavioral training.
What should I do?
While training may be a solution, there are ways to try to curb the behavior yourself.
- If your dog is bored, try to find more time in your day to spend with them, and include fun, interactive toys
- Always remove any dangerous objects from reach, in case they don't respond to training
- Do not give your dog attention if they're behaving badly as it can reinforce the behavior
- You can try spraying the items your dog typically tries to eat with a dog repellent spray, you'll need to be sure that it's non-toxic and intended for this purpose
- If the cause for constant chewing or eating non-foods is due to stress or anxiety, your vet may recommend drug therapy if nothing else will work
- If the behavior happens on walks, you may want to use a muzzle to restrict them from eating whatever they come across
Signs That Your Dog Has Eaten Too Much
Dogs display signs of overeating a little differently from humans.
If you notice any of the following symptoms in your dog, you should bring your dog to the vet immediately:
- Pacing or whining
- Shallow breathing
- The stomach appears distended or enlarged
- Inability to get comfortable
- Won't lie on their side
- Unable to defecate
- Change in the color of their gums (dark red, blue, white, and cold)
- Trying to lick the air
How to Prevent Canine BloatCanine bloat is the inflation of the stomach or abdomen in dogs caused by the ingestion of too much food or inedible items. You can help prevent canine bloat in your dog with the following methods:
- Feed smaller, more frequent meals
- Use a slow feeder bowl to restrict quick feedings
- Always separate your dogs at feeding time if you have more than one