What to Do About Dogs Eating Rocks and Sticks
Why Do Dogs Eat Rocks, Sticks, and Poop?
Some dogs like to eat things they’re not supposed to—rocks, sticks, the corridor’s wall or the owner’s underwear. Every veterinarian has a story to tell about a patient who ate something incredible; in fact, dogs never cease to amaze us when it comes to the things they eat. Unfortunately, this behavior can pose a serious threat to the dog’s health, and in the worst-case scenario, he may even die as a result.
Sharp objects such as nails, forks or knives, can easily perforate the stomach walls or the intestinal mucosa and cause internal bleeding, peritoneal infections, or septic shock. Eating non-edible objects, otherwise termed pica, is an abnormal behavior. Some professionals believe it’s a form of obsessive-compulsive behavior. The causes may vary, but it can be related to anxiety, frustration or boredom, lack of mental and physical stimulation, and chronic/acute stress. Some physical pathologies may also contribute to its development such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, intestinal parasites, and anemia: These should be ruled out before attempting any behavioral approach.
If the final diagnosis turns out to be an obsessive-compulsive disorder, pica is generally a difficult issue to resolve. The first step is to seek professional help. A behavior specialist (usually a veterinarian or a certified behaviorist) will develop a treatment protocol, which usually includes:
- Behavior modification techniques
- Stress reduction strategies
- Advice on how to adequately manage the dog’s environment
- Medication (depending on the severity of the case)
Stress Reduction and Behavior Changing Techniques for Your Dog
Stress reduction strategies are an extremely important component of the treatment plan. Stress is one of the main contributors to the development and worsening of compulsive disorders and, thereof, it should be addressed in an efficient manner. This can be achieved by increasing the dog’s daily amount of exercise and mental stimulation.
How Does One Mentally Stimulate a Dog?
Start by throwing the food bowl away and replace it with a food dispensing toy. Also, you can start by teaching the dog some basic obedience tricks. Learn how to clicker train your dog and implement positive, reward-based training techniques to your daily routine. The use of synthetic, appeasing pheromones could also be a useful tool since they effectively reduce the dog’s stress levels; depending on the stressor type, you can choose between pills, a collar or a diffuser. There is also a spray with a valerian-based formula which can work very well with some animals.
Behavior Modification Techniques
Behavior modification techniques should also be implemented. Let’s imagine the pica behavior gets worse when the dog is left alone. You can use desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques to help create a positive association with the owner’s absence and, therefore, reduce the stress and anxiety levels. Basic obedience can also play a vital role in the recovery process, simply by teaching the dog not to touch an object on cue.
Note the Dangers of Pica
Please remember the health dangers associated with pica. Whilst implementing the treatment plan, the dog should be closely monitored and shouldn’t have access to the objects he’s attracted to.
How to Properly Manage Pica
- Determine the cause (stress, boredom, malnutrition)
- Try using more treat dispensing toys
- Work on obedience tricks
- Decrease stress on the dog
- Consult a trainer on specific behavior modification techniques
What do you think is the main reason dogs eat rocks and sticks?
Why Dogs Eat Poop
A lot of dogs tend to eat poop. When you notice this bad habit in your dog, it is important for you to take quick actions in order to stop it. That’s because the bad habit of eating poop can lead your dog to a large number of health conditions in the long run.
- Isolation: As the first thing, you will have to figure out the exact reasons why your dog eats poop. Isolation can be considered as the number one reason that leads dogs to eat poop. If you keep your dog alone in the basement or kennel, there is a high possibility for it to eat poop.
- Space: If your dog is closer to you, you will not be able to find this bad habit. On the other hand, dogs who spend most of their time in a small space also tend to eat poop. This is not something unusual.
- Anxiety: Just like human beings, dogs will also be subjected to anxiety. When your dog is subjected to anxiety, you will be able to see it eating its own poop. For example, some of the dog owners tend to punish their dogs for accidents that happen. In such instances, the dogs tend to eat their own poop with the objective of removing all evidence. This will transform into a vicious cycle in the long run.
- Attention Seeking: Some of the attention seeking dogs also tend to go ahead and eat their own poop. If you notice this in your dog, you should be careful not to overreact. You must also keep in mind that dogs who are living with other elderly or sick dogs also tend to eat their own poop.
How to Stop a Dog From Eating Poop
Now that you are aware of the reasons dogs eat poop, you will have to figure out how to keep your dog away from eating poop. If your dog notices that it is missing something from food, it will be tempted to go ahead and eat its own poop. If you can give a vitamin supplement to your dog, you will be able to keep it away from pooping. Vitamin D deficiency has been identified as one of the most common reasons that lead dogs to go ahead and eat their own poop. In order to overcome this situation, you can simply give a Vitamin D supplement to your dog.
Clean Up After Your Dog
You can also think about keeping the surroundings of your dog clean as much as possible. Then there will be no poop for your dog to go ahead and pick up. As a result, your dog will not be tempted to eat its own poop. You must also keep an eye on your dog and supervise him throughout the day. If you notice that your dog is about to eat poop, you will have to pick him up immediately. Then you will be able to make sure that your dog doesn’t eat poop.
- Prevent stress and anxiety
- Give the dog space to live
- Provide nutritious food
- Keep the yard or fecal area clean
- Watch your dog and don't let them be alone with poop
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
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© 2018 James Livingood