Have you ever wondered why your pup can’t help but taste, chew, and eat everything he puts his paws or mouth on? If there’s one rule they always follow, it is the urge to eat everything they find on the ground. Problem is, puppies are usually clueless about what goes into their system and this is because the mouth is one of their only means of taking in sensory stimuli. As you well know, eating materials that aren’t supposed to be ingested can lead to serious health complications, so let’ see what are the best solutions to resolve the issue.
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The Root of the Behavior
What drives your doggie to literally eat everything they come across, whether outside or indoors? To have a better understanding of their food obsession, you need to know that dogs use their mouths to explore the surrounding environment. Chewing, mouthing and sometimes swallowing inedible objects they find on the ground can cause serious damage, such as blockages or poisoning. This condition is also known as “pica” and it refers to the obsessive urge of eating non-digestible objects. Why do they find them so appealing? It’s because some non-edible objects are flavored or scented, and thus provide an extra attraction to your dog. This includes grease-covered items from the kitchen or milky baby bottle nipples.
Instinctual behavior is another common factor in explaining this type of practice. Going back to their wild ancestors, dogs possess a natural born ability to scavenge and thrive on garbage produced by humans. But scavenging is not just disgusting, it can also be dangerous for your dog. If you own a powerful breed, especially a fighting breed, you are more likely to see this type of behavior take place. Why? Because the same way they feel the need to hurt another dog, it will be easier for them to become obsessive. How about eating just because… they’re bored? We’re pretty sure this has also happened to you at some point in your life, so there’s no wonder why your dog wouldn’t do it. This tends to happen especially when you leave him unattended for longer periods of time. They will start to raid garbage cans or litter boxes, and who knows what next?
Apart from this, you should be aware of certain medical conditions that can cause a dog to feel hungry all the time. It’s called polyphagia and there are multiple causes that have a direct influence to its severity: diabetes, hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s disease, malabsorption syndrome, or the presence of intestinal parasites. All of them can drastically enhance your pup’s obsession with food.
Encouraging the Behavior
As mentioned earlier, your dog can ingest inedible objects that can cause partial or complete obstructions. When suffering from partial obstruction, your dog will experience symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. On the other hand, complete obstructions lead to intense abdominal pain and vomiting that continues without relief. Not a pretty picture, so make sure you take him to the vet immediately. On a lighter note, smaller objects can pass harmlessly through the body within 24-72 hours…and that’s the end of that. You can help by feeding your dog a meal that can turn on his digestive juices to ease the process.
Obviously, if you see him sniffing on weird stuff while outside, you will need to call him back to prevent him from getting the food, but don’t ‘reel’ him in. This means that you let him make the right choice, so that he will replicate the same behavior even when he is off the leash. The rules in your case are simple and straightforward: don’t leave your doggie outside for long periods and don’t let him chew on toys or objects in the house unattended. If you feel unprepared to tackle this issue, then consider contacting a qualified pet behaviorist. They can help you overcome the issue by reinforcing your training methods or bringing in new alternatives.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Another thing you can do is provide him with plenty of exercise and engage him in fun activities while outside. Remember that scavenging has a lot to do with boredom and lack of mental stimulation. If you manage to distract him from any type of unwanted behavior, your doggie will be less likely to become fascinated with finding the next rock to swallow. The secret is to keep him amused and guide his natural born curiosity in the area that you want. Practice this every time you take him out for a walk and keep an eye on him at all times.
If you suspect your dog could have a medical reason for his unhealthy habit, make sure you discuss it with your veterinarian. In most cases, all it takes is proper training and care. Be careful about what arouses your dog’s curiosity, no matter if you are inside the house or out. No more excuses for the old “my dog ate my homework” trick.