Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Why does my dog eat everything off the ground?

From toys and grass to feces and roadkill, some dogs will eat anything. If your dog eats things it shouldn't, there may be a good reason to be concerned. Today, our Clackamas vets look at why some dogs keep eating everything and share tips on how to stop this problematic behavior.

Why won't my dog stop eating?

If you have a dog who eats everything, know you're not alone. While many pet parents find this behavior repulsive, it is a normal scavenging behavior in our canine companions. Puppies especially enjoy eating things they come across, such as leaves, trash, stones, and dead animals.

What Dogs Eat & Why

Pica refers to the consumption of non-edible items by both humans and animals. Pica dogs have an almost compulsive desire to consume indigestible objects like rocks, dirt, and sticks. It is believed that animals with pica may be deficient in essential minerals or other nutrients. If you suspect that your dog's desire to eat inedible objects is indicative of pica, consult your veterinarian.

Here are some of the most frequently consumed items by our four-legged companions:

Grass

As long as your dog is otherwise healthy and the grass has not been chemically treated extensively, eating it is usually safe.

Dogs eat grass for a variety of reasons, including increasing fiber in their digestive tract, reducing boredom, and simply enjoying it. If your dog is eating an unusually large amount of grass, talk to your vet about how you can get them to stop.

Dirt 

Puppies often engage in the behavior of eating dirt. The reason behind this preference remains a mystery, but many believe it is linked to the distinct scents found in different environments, like a field, forest, or even a mulch pile. Puppies may gain a better understanding of their surroundings by consuming dirt. There's likely no cause for concern if your dog suddenly develops a peculiar taste for dirt.

However, excessive consumption of dirt can pose a risk as it may obstruct your dog's digestive tract. If your dog has a fondness for devouring dirt, it would be wise to consult your veterinarian regarding the underlying cause of this behavior and explore potential solutions to put an end to it.

Rocks

Dogs frequently enjoy playing with and eating rocks, which can pose a health risk. Chewing rocks can cause tooth damage, gum damage, and choking.

If your dog has developed a concerning habit of eating rocks, it is best to schedule a vet appointment. When they eat rocks, it could indicate boredom, anxiety, or a desire for attention. Consulting with your veterinarian will assist in determining the underlying cause of your dog's behavior as well as providing advice on how to combat this tendency.

Poop

Pet parents frequently contact us when they are at their wits end with their dog's disgusting poop-eating behavior. Poop eating is so common that it's called 'coprophagia' (kop-ruh-fey-jee-uh). It may be caused by a combination of behavioral, genetic, and psychological factors.

Dogs are generally thought to be safe to eat their poop; however, eating the poop of other dogs or animals is cause for concern. Feces can transmit parasites, viruses, and toxins.

According to one theory, poop eating is part of your dog's innate scavenging tendencies, which evolved as a survival tool for times when food is scarce. After all, a dog can't afford to be picky when there's no food to be found.

Some physical reasons that dogs may eat poop include:

  • Diets deficient in nutrients and calories
  • Malabsorption syndromes
  • Diabetes
  • Cushing’s Disease
  • Thyroid disease, and other conditions that can cause increased appetite
  • Steroids and other medications

Other factors that can lead to poop eating in dogs:

  • Isolation and boredom
  • Restrictive confinement
  • Anxiety
  • Attention-seeking
  • Inappropriate association with real food

Dead Animals

Dogs are natural scavengers, with a strong sense of smell that draws them to decaying flesh. This behavior could also be a legacy of their wild ancestors, who had to scavenge for food to survive.

Should I be concerned about my dog eating everything?

This depends on what your dog is eating. Some items may be harmless, such as grass, while others could be dangerous, such as another animal’s poop, and require immediate attention from a veterinarian. It's important to monitor your dog's behavior and consult with a professional if you have any concerns about their diet.

You should be concerned about their eating habit when it becomes excessive or if they are consuming items that could potentially harm them. These can include things like toxic foods, sharp objects, or small items that could cause choking hazards. In these cases, it's always better to be cautious and seek advice from a vet to ensure your dog's safety and well-being.

How to Tell if Your Dog Has Overeaten

Some signs that your dog may have overeaten include bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and a lack of interest in food. If you notice any of these symptoms, it's important to consult with your veterinarian to ensure your dog's health and well-being.

Ways to Curb Your Dog's Unusual Eating Habits

Whatever your dog likes to nibble on, there are a few things you can try to break the habit:

  • Clean your backyard frequently to remove any rocks, poops, or other items. If it isn't there, your pup can't eat it.
  • Teach your dog to 'drop it' and 'leave it' on command. Essential know-how for every dog.
  • Increase your pup's exercise throughout the day. A tired and busy dog is less likely to nibble on things they shouldn't.
  • Take your dog to the vet for a full examination to look for signs of illness or to discuss solutions to behavioral issues such as anxiety.

Your veterinarian can check your dog from head to tail for signs of illness, discuss the causes of your dog's unusual eating habits, and give you valuable advice on your pet's nutritional and caloric needs based on size and breed.

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.

Are you concerned about your pup's strange eating habits? Contact us today. Our experienced Clackamas vets can diagnose the cause of your dog's unusual food choices and provide you with the tools you need to help solve the issue.

New Patients Welcome

Clackamas Pet Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of your companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Book Online (503) 946-5417