Why Does My Dog Eat Rocks, Socks & More?
Some dogs like — or at least try — to snack on a lot of weird stuff, from rocks to socks to golf balls. Although it may seem baffling to us, our four-legged friends find these strange things interesting, and possibly even tasty. We've asked our expert, Dr. Leslie, to give us some insight into why our canine companions try to eat non-food items, how dangerous it is for them and what you can do to curb this behavior.
Q: Why do dogs eat non-food items? Is this due to a psychological issue or a nutritional deficiency?
Dr. Leslie: Dogs are scavengers by instinct -- not hunters. Studies have shown their dietary indiscretions are not nutrition related at all. More aroma- and intrigue-related.
Q: What are the dangers of a dog eating non-food items?
Dr. Leslie: Best case scenario, a non-food item moves along the GI tract and is excreted without poisoning the dog or causing an obstruction. Next best scenario is if whatever he had eaten is quickly vomited up and does not cause injury to the stomach, esophagus or mouth. However, sometimes dogs aren't as lucky.
More than 75 percent of foreign bodies are due to non-food items that have been ingested by accident. Some of these can contain compounds that can be toxic, such as zinc from pennies or lead from toys, paint or old pipes.
Q: How can a pet parent curb this behavior?
Dr. Leslie: Dogs with a strong behavioral drive to eat non-food items need intervention. When dealing with a behavior issue, especially one that could lead to a life-threatening condition, don't ask Dr. Google or just any dog trainer.
Have a discussion with your veterinarian and ask for a referral to a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (not a trainer). These are specialists with rigorous training who can holistically and individually help you resolve your dog's behavior problems. You can also find one here. This is the only credible organization that specifically is trained to work with dogs and cats for in-home behavior modification -- be careful, there are charlatans among us!
Q: How should pet parents react when a dog eats something weird?
Dr. Leslie: Obviously, when you find your dog eating something he shouldn't, do whatever is necessary to get it out of his mouth — so long as it won't hurt him to pull it out (like a fishhook or jagged bones) or hurt you (don't get bitten). In some cases, surgery will be the safer option, but always get your dog to the veterinarian ASAP!
Thanks, Dr. Leslie! It's always safest to keep Fido away from stuff he shouldn't be eating. Instead, give him some yummy Nature's Recipe® Soft Minis Dog Treats Made With Real Beef. These delicious morsels contain no artificial flavors or colors.
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