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Puppies do not have any idea what behavior is acceptable and what is not. They haven’t been around long enough to figure out the ins and outs of what is expected of them. They frequently misbehave and do things that are simply inappropriate, even for young puppies. For example, when puppies eat rocks. Despite the fact that this is not uncommon among pups, it is not something that can be ignored. Which leads us to the question, why do puppies eat rocks?
It is natural for puppies to use their mouth and nose to learn about the world around them, much like humans. Puppies are drawn to rocks because of curiosity and tasting different objects helps them to have a better understanding of their surroundings. Additionally, the smell of rocks may also play a role in why your puppy is fascinated with it, especially when they may have been marked by other animals or contain food remnants on them. Puppies usually grow out of this phase as they mature and discover new and exciting things to chew on.
While curiosity is the main reason why puppies bite, chew, and eat rocks, stones, and pebbles, if this scenario happens repeatedly, there is a big chance that there is a deeper reason behind these actions. Continue reading to find out what these other reasons are and other interesting FAQs.
Why do Puppies Eat Rocks?
Puppies eat rocks for a variety of reasons. Most of the common reasons why puppies eat rocks have been divided into three categories: medical reasons, psychological reasons, and behavioral reasons.
It is possible that your dog will seek strange non-food objects, such as rocks, because of internal parasites like worms. This is due to parasites in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract preventing nutrient absorption.
What to do: Stick to your puppy’s deworming schedule.
Diabetes is a serious but manageable medical condition that might lead your dog to chew rocks owing to excessive hunger or vitamin deficiencies. Excessive water consumption and urination are common diabetic symptoms.
What to do: If you suspect your dog has diabetes, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
- Dietary Deficiencies
Puppies require a lot of calories and nutrients to grow properly. Dietary deficiencies occur when people do not receive all of the vitamins and minerals they require. Dietary deficiencies are frequently associated with malnutrition. When pups don’t obtain all of the nutrients they need from their meal, they try to get them from non-edible sources like rocks.
What to do: Make sure you’re feeding your puppy dog food specifically formulated for puppies. These diets provide all of the nutrients that puppies require. Consult your veterinarian about your puppy’s nutrition and the finest diet for him.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Pica can be caused by a nutritional deficiency. Pica is a medical condition in which dogs have a strong desire for non-nutritive or non-food substances. When sharp objects are eaten, for example, pica can swiftly escalate into a serious problem. It is critical to intervene early.
- Iron Deficiency Anemia
Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common reasons for your dog to start eating rocks and other strange objects. Iron-deficiency anemia is frequently found in puppies who are fed extremely inadequate food or who have severe hookworm infections.
What to do: It is necessary to address the underlying cause of the condition whether it be malnutrition or parasite infection. Of course, consult your veterinarian for advice.
If your dog is just chewing on the rocks, it is possible that he is teething. Chewing on hard things such as rocks, stones, and pebbles can help ease toothache in dogs that are teething.
What to do: Provide appropriate teething toys, which can typically be found at pet stores.
- Stress and Anxiety
Change, fear, and unpleasant encounters are all factors that can cause anxiety and worry in your pooch. This can result in displacement behavior like eating non-food items such as rocks.
What to do: Identifying and removing the trigger can help your puppy. The most common cause of stress in puppies is when they are unsure of how to handle a situation. It helps to be calm when instructing your dog on what to do. You can also help them by bringing them back to familiar, safe surroundings, such as your home.
IMPORTANT NOTE: General anxiety and compulsive disorder (like OCD) can quickly escalate, leading to obsessive behaviors in dogs. Consult a veterinarian behaviorist if you suspect your dog is suffering from extreme anxiety or a compulsive problem.
Puppies are energetic creatures who require an active lifestyle. They can easily become bored and engage in various misbehaviors such as digging, excessive vocalization, chewing, and consuming non-food things such as rocks. This is common for puppies to be left alone all day.
What to do: Give your dog new toys and games to play with, as well as daily exercise. If necessary, participate in dog sports.
- Attention Seeking
Puppies have a high level of intelligence. Whether your dog is manipulative and simply wants you to spend all of your time with them, or whether you are genuinely ignoring your time with your dog, dogs may use eating undesirable things, such as pebbles, as a form of attention-seeking. If your dog realizes that you are immediately paying attention to them when they are eating rocks, they may begin to do so in an attempt to get your attention.
What to do: Spending quality time with your dog on a regular basis will help to stop this behavior. If your puppy understands that he does not need to engage in inappropriate activity to gain your attention, such as eating stones, he will refrain from doing so.
How to Stop Your Puppy from Eating Stones?
- Chew Toys
Make sure to provide your puppy with chew toys, especially if he is teething. Keep a few chew toys on hand, but don’t hand out all of them at once. Instead, alternate the toys. Teething bones can also be used.
- Spend Time with Your Puppy and Make it a Priority
Puppies require a lot of love and attention. It’s all part of the job of being a pet parent. Even though all dogs are highly dependent on human engagement on both a mental and emotional level, puppy dogs are especially needy of human interaction. They are significantly more vulnerable than adults, and because they are constantly learning new things, if they do not feel valued or loved, they can quickly get depressed or anxious, and they may develop a habit of overindulging in eating things they shouldn’t.
- Create a Diversion
Replace the stone with something more fascinating, such as a toy or a treat, whenever your puppy picks up pebbles and stones. When your dog lets go of the stone, praise him. If you do this on a regular basis, your dog will eventually learn to avoid stones.
- Increase Daily Exercise/Playtime
All pups, especially those who are regarded as hunters or water dogs, require a lot of mental and physical stimulation. Provide mentally challenging tasks to keep them occupied. Make sure you teach them exciting games such as fetch or throwing a frisbee around; this will encourage them to use these items rather than stones when they are playing.
Teaching your dog to “leave it” and “drop it” is an excellent technique to gain control of the stone-eating scenario. It is appropriate to use the command “leave it” in instances where you may expect that your dog will take stones into his mouth. When stones are already in his mouth, you can use the “drop it” command for your puppy to let go of the stones.
Positive reinforcement and balanced training, on the other hand, can also be effective in stopping this behavior.
- Make Modifications
Modifying the space where your puppy spends most of his time to prevent your dog from eating pebbles is one of the simplest ways to protect your dog from eating rocks. If your dog enjoys snacking on the rocks in your garden or yard, changing the environment can immediately stop the activity. Additionally, you can use pet deterrent spray over stones in your backyard that you are having a hard time removing or don’t want to remove.
- Consult Your Veterinarian
A vet appointment is required if your dog has suddenly become a rock eater. Your veterinarian can help you rule out medical causes and identify whether the behavior is due to behavioral or psychological factors.
- Muzzle Training
Muzzle training takes time, and selecting the right muzzle for your dog is crucial. Choose a muzzle that will allow your dog to pant, drink water, and accept treats for training purposes. Muzzle training can be a temporary solution while you work on a permanent solution for the rock-eating situation of your puppy.
Will My Puppy Grow Out of Eating Stones?
Yes! Puppies normally grow out of their stone-age 6 months after birth as they shift from their mouth to their nose. However, do not encourage this behavior because it may develop into an odd habit that he will carry into adulthood.
What Should I Do If My Puppy Swallows a Stone?
Most food is eradicated within 24 hours. Feed your puppy his regular dog food mixed with pumpkin if he had just eaten a rock. The fiber in the pumpkin will provide bulk and help the stone pass through the intestines. If the stone/rock is still in your puppy’s system after 24 hours, see your veterinarian since he may have intestinal blockage. Lethargy, lack of appetite, vomiting, and/or abdominal pain are all symptoms of intestinal blockage in dogs.