Sticks, stones, and other mysterious things your dog eats

ask a vet, pica, why dogs eat rocks, why dogs eat paper

Word's most expensive dog snack

Ask the vet why your dog eats things that aren’t food

Many dog owners have this problem:  your dog eats the most bizarre things.  Guest what?  Veterinary medicine has a term for it and a diagnosis even.

The consumption of nonfood items is called pica. Although pica can be a sign that a dog’s diet is lacking in nutrition, pica often occurs in puppies and young dogs as a result of boredom.

Puppies eat all kinds of objects, and they tend to explore their world with their mouths. Although we aren’t quite sure why puppies do this, many puppies tend to chew and eat a variety of inedible objects, from rocks to plastic bags and toys, clothing, and even pieces of wood. Most puppies grow out of this behavior as the morph into adult dogs, with only the mildest of discouragement from their owners.

ask a vet why my dog eats grassMany adult dogs that eat inedible objects may do so out of destructive chewing. This is different from pica, in that destructive chewing starts off as just that, chewing. Most doggy chewing doesn’t lead to actual swallowing of the object, but inevitably your dog may swallow bits and pieces. Dogs have an ever-impressive ability to swallow something that is in the back of their mouths without second thought.

Less commonly , adult dogs may eat inedible things because of a medical problem, such as an infection with intestinal parasites. Other medical roots for inappropriate ingestion of non-food stuff could be metabolic disorders, a nutritional deficiency, a neurological condition, or age-related dementia.

There are of course those curious pups who fall outside the box of normal puppy investigation and continue to eat inedible items long after their puppyhood days have passed. If you live with an adult dog that has an “evolved” palate that you just can’t decipher, he or she may suffer from a compulsive disorder.

If this is the case, you will have likely noticed it, and thought he or she seemed bizarrely interested and intense about finding their favorite inedible treats, with rocks and plastic ranking in the top as favorite inedible food item. If it is truly compulsive, it will be a frequent behavior, so it isn’t regularly motivated to devour these strange and tasteless treats, you can relax.

chat with a vetWhat if my dogs eats grass? Should I be concerned? Grass eating in dogs is largely considered safe for dogs.

Stay tuned for later this week when I discuss how to resolve a pica problem.

In the meantime, tell me: what is the weirdest thing your pet has ever eaten?

Dr. Laci


Dr. Laci Nash Schaible, DVM

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April 27, 2011 at 14:01

My lab/pit bull mix likes to eat rocks and red clay balls. I can’t ever come home from work without SOMETHING odd being in my house, like a stick, rock, pecans, or i found a HUGE log in there! I still have no idea how he got it in there. He mostly likes things like frogs, but he usually spits them out then finds another one, like maybe the second one won’t taste as bad!! Haha :)

May 4, 2011 at 16:19

Dogs are curious creatures, aren’t they? Especially puppies! They are full time jobs monitoring just what goes in their mouths, not to mention what comes out the other end! Thanks for reading and commenting Ashly!

May 8, 2011 at 09:22

My dog eats anything & everything, from the stuffing out of her toys, to rubber boots,buttons & pillow cases.

May 9, 2011 at 18:02

Karen, sounds like your pooch keeps you on your toes! Thanks for reading and commenting.

November 22, 2011 at 17:05

My 4 year old Golden Retriever has ALWAYS eaten everything he possibly could. Kids action figures, socks, cardboard, various shoes and slippers. I am at my WITS end to get him to stop this, but nothing I do has been working. He also passes these things out…WHOLE. He’s an interesting boy….to say the least! : )

April 22, 2012 at 16:29

I tried to post a remark before, but it hasn’t shown up. I think the spam filter could be defective

June 19, 2012 at 00:25

I am so happy to read that my golden retriever puppy is not abnormal. I have had many dogs in my day, but this puppy eats everything in sight – including rocks and sticks. I just hope he outgrows it before he takes in something dangerous.

August 8, 2012 at 04:15

My jack russell is almost 6 he has recently started eating sticks when we go out and also biting his paws a lot. He goes out at least 5times a day for lóng walks?! So can’t possibly Be bored!?

January 23, 2013 at 21:32

My 2yr old pit has know had 2 surgeries in less than a month. Her 1st surgery was from her eating non food products, string, hard rubber and who knows what else. because of this habit her intestines were fixing to rupture. I thought OK problem fixed she learned her lesson but no we had our 2nd surgery just today and same thing. because of 2 surgeries she faces problems with her intestines in the future since they were so close and she hadn’t gained any weight. My baby girl weighs 28lbs. please help me