While we can expect our beloved pups to chomp on some things, especially as they are teething, we may start to worry if they seem to be chewing on everything in sight. Today, our Austin vets talk about why dogs eat everything and what to do when it becomes concerning.

My Dog Eats Everything!

In many cases, the reason your dog will eat unedible things is due to a condition called 'pica'. Pica is a relatively common disorder that causes your dog to eat just about anything in sight, including socks, shoes, or toys.

This is not the same as chewing on something for attention or because of ore teeth from teething. It is more of an obsessive desire to eat objects (like sand, rocks, sticks, etc.) that they think may contain nutrients that are absent from their diet.

Pica can be dangerous because it means that your dog could get into something poisonous or harmful to their health. They can also eat something that could cause an obstruction which would require surgery to remove the object.

If you feel that your dog is showing signs of pica, contact your vet to make an appointment.

Why Your Puppy Might Eat Everything

Your puppy will spend a lot of time exploring the environment around them. Unfortunately, a large portion of that exploring will likely be done with their mouth.

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 contain parasites.

Puppies will often outgrow this unhealthy habit, although training them may be required to end this behavior.

My Adult Dog Is Eating Things They Shouldn't

Many adult dogs will eat whatever they come across while out on a walk or whatever may be lying around the house. If you find yourself thinking 'My dog eats everything off the ground!', you're not alone. Teaching your dog the 'drop it' and 'leave it' commands are critical when it comes to this behavior. Although it's ideal to teach these commands when they're a puppy, you can still teach this to your adult dog to prevent them from eating everything in sight.

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.

Other Reasons Dogs Eat Everything

Aside from pica, there are other reasons your dog may be eating non-food items. Some possibilities include:

  • Boredom
  • Loneliness
  • Attention-seeking behavior
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Health reasons
  • Old habits from puppyhood

On the bright side, many of these causes can be addressed through behavioral training.

What You Can Do

While training is often the ideal solution, there are other ways you can stop this behavior.

  • 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

If you suspect pica or other medical conditions to be at the root of the issue, consult with your veterinarian to resolve it. However, if it is more of a behavioral action, it's most likely something you can correct with some time and love.

Regardless of the motivation, the important thing is ensuring the health of your dog and keeping dangerous objects out of their reach.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you're concerned about your dog's eating behaviors, contact our Austin vets to book an appointment.