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Many Dogs tend to eat a lot of strange things that, for most of us, make no sense. However bizarre your dog’s chomping habits may be, bear in mind that this is relatively normal behavior, particularly for puppies. But, normal or not, chewing rocks (or other non-food items) can be dangerous if ingested.
The Root of the Matter
First, chewing rocks is dangerous to a dog’s mouth and teeth. Sharp edges can cut delicate gums and tongues, and crunching down can break teeth. Additionally, swallowing rocks can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal blockage, and even choking if the rock is too large for the dog’s throat. As common as rock chewing is, it can be due to several possibilities ranging from medical to developmental.
1. To seek attention. Chewing rocks is one way for a snubbed pooch to get noticed. In this case, your dog may be acting out of anxiety, frustration, or mere boredom.
2. Medical problems. It’s also possible that a dog eats rocks because of an underlying medical condition. These can include intestinal tract disorders, nutritional deficiency, diabetes, or other illnesses. It is vital to rule out any medical cause by paying a visit to your vet if continued efforts to stop this behavior are unsuccessful.
Treating the Cause
Chewing rocks may be nothing more than just your pooch’s way to vent his chewing needs. If you suspect this is the case, try the following steps to curb his rock habit:
1. Limit his access to the rocks. Sometimes it’s just impossible to avoid rocks altogether, but try to supervise your dog when they’re around.
2. When you catch your dog eating rocks, distract him from the rocks and redirect his attention to something safe or fun, like playing fetch or chewing a safe toy.
3. Check your own schedule. Is your dog left alone much of the time? Perhaps, all you need to do is to spend more time with him.
4. Keep a lot of chew toys on hand, and rotate them every couple of days to keep him interested.
If rock chewing is due to a medical issue rather than behavioral, your veterinarian will be able to make a diagnosis and create a treatment plan. When underlying medical issues are handled, the rock chewing should end on its own.