Dogs chewing on rocks is a curious behavior that many people are familiar with, but it's rare that we understand why our dog does it.
One of the reasons why dogs chew on rocks is because of their dental health. Chewing on rocks helps to clean their teeth and groom their snout. When this behavior becomes a problem, it's time to get them to a vet.
Why Dogs Chew On Rocks?
It’s a known fact that dogs love to chew on anything and everything! These include their most-loved toys, your favorite shoes, their bedding, and your sofa! But what could explain their gnawing on stranger things, such as pebbles or rocks? Rocks are neither easy to eat nor tasty, so what on earth could be their appeal?
The most common reason your dog might be eating rocks is a medical condition called Pica. The classic signs of pica are eating non-food items.
In addition to rocks, dogs with Pica might also eat dirt, trash, plastic, metal or articles of clothing like socks. There is no known cause as to why dogs get Pica, but it is often linked to nutritional deficiencies.
Another reason your dog may start eating rocks is that he or she has a behavioral issue. Stress or anxiety in your dog may manifest into your dog eating rocks.
Your dog might be seeking your attention when he puts rocks in his mouth or he could be anxious or bored.
Finally, if your pet doesn’t have Pica or a behavioral issue, they may be eating rocks due to a nutritional deficiency or a parasite.
To get to the root of why your pet is eating rocks, you’ll want to start with a visit to your vet. He or she can do an exam and run diagnostic tests to check for nutritional deficiencies or parasites.
They may also ask some lifestyle questions about your pet to determine if the issue is behavioral.
As the owner of a rock-chewer, you can start by finding out whether your dog is chewing rocks for the purpose of eating them. If so, the dog may have a psychological condition known as pica. Present in both animals and humans, pica causes a compulsive desire to eat non-food items.
In dogs, the item of choice is often rocks or gravel. Although pica is the most common cause of rock-eating in dogs, it is not the only medical explanation.
Some dogs chew and swallow rocks or stones because they have nutritional deficiencies, and their bodies identify rocks as a good source of whatever is missing.
Others have an intestinal disorder, diabetes, or worms. If your dog is not eating rocks but simply chewing on them, however, the reason is almost certainly psychological or emotional.
The dog may be trying to work out anxiety or frustration, although it is also possible that he or she is simply bored. Many dogs start chewing on rocks because they have a compulsion to chew something, yet they lack the right chew toys.
You may be looking around your house and scoffing at the very idea that your dog doesn't have enough to chew on, but remember that dogs get bored with toys just like human children do. They need new and different toys once in a while to hold their interest.
Toys are no substitute for human attention, however. Your dog may have plenty of toys and still seem to favor rocks, not because the dog prefers the taste and texture of them, but because chewing on them gets a rise out of you. The chewing process may have its own benefits in this case, but mostly because chewing works out the bad feelings associated with loneliness.
The root problem would still be that your dog misses you and needs some quality time. Encouraging the Behavior If there is an emotional reason behind your dog's rock-chewing, figuring it out may correct the behavior.
Start by spending some extra play time with your dog during the day, and make sure he or she has plenty of chew toys. Keep some in reserve as well, so that you can rotate them. Many dog owners choose to address the rock-chewing issue by removing rocks and stones from their yards.
This may work for you and your dog if you are able to find them all, but smaller pebbles may be harder to remove. You can spray any remaining rocks with vinegar or a pet repellant product, but you will want to be thorough enough that all of the stones in the yard are covered with whatever you use.
That way, your dog can start to associate rocks with unpleasant experiences. You may also find it useful to fence off a rock-free area in your yard, where your dog can play without putting himself or herself in danger. In the meantime, work on the “no” and “leave it” commands with your dog.
Practice with other objects and work your way up to rocks, so that you can convince your dog to drop any that he or she may see on a walk. You can also make a point of carrying toys with you and replacing any rocks that your dog may pick up so that your dog comes to understand what is and is not okay to chew. If the dog keeps going for the rocks, though, you may need to try a muzzle.
Other Solutions and Considerations If you do have a rock-eater instead of just a rock-chewer, it is even more important for you to stop the behavior. A dog's system cannot pass a rock easily, and it can cause a painful and dangerous obstruction.
Before this happens, make an appointment with a veterinarian who can perform the tests necessary to determine whether your dog has a nutritional deficiency or other underlying medical condition.
Should this prove to be the case, treating the condition itself is likely to eliminate your dog's desire to self-medicate with rocks. If there is no medical reason why your dog is swallowing rocks, the answer is likely pica.
The American Society or the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has confirmed that the compulsive nature of pica means that it will not work itself out and requires special training. There are professional behaviorists that can help. Conclusion Part of being a dog owner is keeping your furry friend away from things that he or she should not chew or eat.
Rocks are one of those things that can really hurt a dog, and so they are one of the most important things to keep away from his or her curious mouth.
Encourage Dogs Behavior
If there is an emotional reason behind your dog's rock-chewing, figuring it out may correct the behavior. Start by spending some extra play time with your dog during the day, and make sure he or she has plenty of chew toys.
Keep some in reserve as well, so that you can rotate them. Many dog owners choose to address the rock-chewing issue by removing rocks and stones from their yards. This may work for you and your dog if you are able to find them all, but smaller pebbles may be harder to remove.
You can spray any remaining rocks with vinegar or a pet repellant product, but you will want to be thorough enough that all of the stones in the yard are covered with whatever you use. That way, your dog can start to associate rocks with unpleasant experiences.
You may also find it useful to fence off a rock-free area in your yard, where your dog can play without putting himself or herself in danger. In the meantime, work on the “no” and “leave it” commands with your dog.
Practice with other objects and work your way up to rocks, so that you can convince your dog to drop any that he or she may see on a walk.
You can also make a point of carrying toys with you and replacing any rocks that your dog may pick up so that your dog comes to understand what is and is not okay to chew. If the dog keeps going for the rocks, though, you may need to try a muzzle.
Here are some reasons your dog might be eating pebbles and what you can do about it:
Deficiency: Your dog is deficient in phosphorus, calcium, or iron or it could possibly have an enzyme deficiency. Your vet can test for deficiencies and tell you the best supplements to give it.
Worms: Your dog might have worms in the stomach. Deworm it. Even if this isn’t the reason, you should be deworming regularly.
Pain: Your dog may be ill or in pain. Again, this means a trip to the vet to get your dog checked out.
Boredom: It could merely be bored and need exercise. This problem is easily fixed. Buy it some chew toys and take it for more walks and playtime.
Loneliness: It could be lonely. I would say this should be an easy one to figure out too. Try spending more time with your dog and see how the problem changes.
Pica: It may have a condition called pica. This is a mental health problem that causes people or animals to compulsively eat non-food items. Homeopathy, acupressure, acupuncture, and herbs have helped some dogs who suffer from pica. Your vet will need to diagnose this issue and can give you tips on dealing with it.
GI Upset: It could have a disorder of the intestinal tract. A vet can check to find out if this is the case.
Diabetes: It could have diabetes mellitus. This can also be tested for at the vet.
Bloat: Your dog may be suffering from bloat. This is a serious disease, and dogs can die from it if it’s not treated. It might be bloat if your dog's stomach is hard and tight. Go to the vet immediately.
Tooth Health: I've seen some people say that chewing on or eating small stones helps clean dogs' teeth, but this is false. Charcoal, the pure, non-treated stuff, can work for cleaning teeth as well.
3 Tips for Dealing With Dogs That Are Eating Rocks
- If you've tried changing the dog's diet, exercising it more, and giving it more attention, and it's still eating rocks, then it's time to take it to the vet to see if there's an underlying condition.
- You could also try removing stones and rocks from your property if it seems the problem just won't go away.
- If your dog's stomach is hard and tight, you need to get to the vet right away.
To get your dog to stop chewing on rocks, try the following:
- When you see your dog smelling or licking a rock, gently direct him/her away – this lets your pet know that the behavior is not allowed.
- Redirect your dog to something else to chew on – a safe chew toy or even a chewy treat!
- When walking your dog, keep the leash tight and close to you – this will prevent your pet from getting too close to rocks along the way.
- Observe when the behavior of chewing rocks is most common. Does it happen when you leave your dog alone for too long? Perhaps your dog feels anxious or frustrated in your absence and is using this action to relieve tension or stress? Avoid leaving your dog alone for long periods.
- Spend more time with your dog. Play with them. This helps solidify a bond with your dog. It also encourages healthy behaviors, rather than those designed to seek attention.
- Arrange doggy play dates for your pet. This will keep him/her actively engaged and encourage socialization rather than rock chewing.
- Try to remove as many rocks from your yard and surroundings as possible.
- Spray the remaining rocks in your yard with vinegar or pet repellent. This should prevent your dog from wanting to chew them once he/she gets a whiff of it!
- Buy new chew toys occasionally in case the behavior is a result of boredom. Also, keep a bucket of safe chew toys ‘at the ready’ with different toys for him/her to choose from.
- If all other measures fail, seek the help of a professional – take your pet to a veterinarian for diagnosis and/or treatment.
Why do dogs chew on rocks? The sounds they make might seem odd, but these natural rock chew toys are the perfect way to keep your dog entertained, and they’ll help with teething pain, too.
Plus, the physical action of chewing helps exercise your pet’s jaw, preventing tooth and gum disease and promoting oral health.
These rocks are also extremely safe – a dog can’t actually break them into pieces. This is because most of these rocks are made from granite, a super-strong, very heavy type of granite that’s not only hard, but also brittle.
These unique rock chew toys generally weigh about four to five pounds, so they’re the perfect size for most dogs