Lifestyle with Dog

Why is My Dog Eating Rocks?

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.

 

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33 Comments

33 Comments

  1. Avatar Of Lisa

    Lisa

    says:

    My lab/spaniel that we adopted from the local shelter at 1 year of age has always been a “grazer” that I sometimes call her Cow. She doesn’t seem to stop, so I have to limit her outdoor freedom and be her overseer to make sure she doesn’t overdo it. She will also lick the mostly clay fill dirt I used next to the house. She scratches it a bit and then starts to lick it. She has had a chronic problem with regurgitation where she will upchuck her food six or so hours after eating. She has always wolfed down her food, so I have had to split her meal into two servings. I have noticed that when I started feeding her small kibble (Hill’s weight management for small dogs) that the regurgitation problem stopped. She continued to eat grass, but a bit less, especially after the tender spring grasses became tough from maturity. My vet tested her PH after she was panting alot from a dog fight and said her urine was very alkaline. He said it was probably from a diet high in carbs. I then bought some Merrick’s brand high protein food and mixed a little with her other kibble and she did alright. Now, to the rock problem. Beware if your dog likes to eat dead worms from a gravel driveway. Both of our dogs have started to do this with an influx of worms in late May and June. The problem is that the worms are usually stuck to the rocks and the dogs will eat the rocks, too. After a week of this, one of my dogs is now eating less. I don’t know if it’s related, but just to give everyone a heads up about this possible rock eating problem.

  2. Avatar Of Peggy Peggy says:

    My Aussiedoodle puppy just had stomach surgery due to eating a huge rock. He’s a scavenger who will try to eat almost anything he finds in the yard. So we now have a $2000 rock as a souvenir!! I’m afraid he will have to wear a muzzle on future outings. He has to wear the “cone of shame” for two weeks until his staples are removed. He is a handful…suggestions welcomed.

    • Avatar Of Carol Stewart

      Carol Stewart

      says:

      We have raised many pups in the last 40 years. My number 1 answer is:
      Your dog is mineral deficient and rocks contain minerals. I have not tried dyno-vite, check that out, or find a good trace mineral supplicant. Even horses will chew wood when they are mineral deficient. Now I did not say vitamins because without the minerals they can not process the vitamins. Hopefully this should fix the poor dogs problem, of craving minerals.
      Carol s

  3. Avatar Of Rae Katz

    Rae Katz

    says:

    In January of 2018 I adopted a 9 year old Rotti/Amstaff mix from the SPC. They of course did not have much info on him. But they did tell me that he liked to dig up rocks and tree roots. What they didn’t tell me is that he is totally obsessed with them. Unlike a lot of the dogs I have read about who eat rocks Kido does not concern his self with pebbles he goes for rocks the size of a 5 lb bag of potatoes. When I am out with him he seems to be able to spot a certain rocks yards away from him and he goes right for them. When he finds one he likes he will stand over the top of it and start howling as if he was telling you “this is my rock and I dare you to try to take it”. He will carry this rock for blocks and every time he puts it down he treats it almost as if he thinks it is a baby. He rubs it with his paws, and his face and he will lick it until his mouth bleeds. Which is not really unusual I don’t think, but what is unusual is the way he acts with these rocks. It is almost like (for lack of a better explanation)a sexual thing for him. He starts to shake and howl, he starts drooling and whining Then he starts digging holes around them, he won’t let anyone near the rock and he will not move or do anything he is asked to do when he is occupied with this rock. It is the craziest thing I have ever seen because he doesn’t even want to actually play with the rock. When I see him doing this it reminds me of a frantic mother trying to rescue her baby from a hole. I have talked to vets ,and other people that I know with the same type of dog. No one seems to have ever heard of a dog doing any thing like this. Does anyone here know anything about this type of behavior?

    • Avatar Of Kayla

      Kayla

      says:

      I’ve never heard of anything as crazy as your dogs behavior. We have a blue pitbull who is obsessed with rocks as well. He will find one (or chew it off of our brick wall..) then cry wine and carry it around for as long as you let him. He will lay down (or stand next to the brick wall) and chew for HOURS if we don’t catch him. When we do we rush out and literally have to call his name over and over attempting to remove the rock to kind of snap him out of the hypnosis the rock has on him… Wonder if it’s a bread thing?

  4. Avatar Of Karen

    Karen

    says:

    I have a fifteen year old mix cayote dog. She ate a ton of pebbles. She was sick and not eating for four days. Finally she pooped them all out and is back to her old self. Thank God. What vitamins could she be lacking? She eats chicken and rice and I add fish oil to her meal. I threw all the pebbles out. Ugh and thank you.

  5. Avatar Of Jo

    Jo

    says:

    Ive got a nine month old Aussie and she loves chewing on rocks. I have little rock gardens in the backyard and she is always going in and out her doggie door and bringing them in. We have no problem getting them from her, but without constant supervision outside, Im worried that it could be a health hazard for her. An extremely intelligent Aussie, with lots of love, lots of energy, and she is an amazing dog. We also have a very smart Chihuahua who is not at all interested in nibbling on rocks or anything. Unless there is something safe and yet appalling to my Aussie that I can spray on the rocks, I guess they will have to go. (the rock gardens of course!!!!) not getting rid of my furbabies!!!!

  6. Avatar Of Cheri

    Cheri

    says:

    My Australian Shepherd pup eats Acorns, Rocks, sticks, and grass. She has started to vomit or wretch on a regular basis now. The Vet said to keep these things from her, but they are all over our yard. We live in the woods. We try to rake and clean the yard, but she finds them anyway. She even gets in to the dirt in the house plants.

    • Avatar Of B. Barton

      B. barton

      says:

      I have an 8 month old LabraHeeler mix. She eats grass, chews rocks and any thing else she finds in the yard. My opinion is that she is in the wrong environment. But my wife won’t have that. This dog is a herder that needs a larger space. Any suggestions?

  7. Avatar Of Tucson

    Tucson

    says:

    I too have an 11 week old cattle dog and he is chewing and swallowing rocks! He has vomited a few times lately so I have been watching him closely to prevent rock chewing/swallowing and other “toy” parts that he has chewed up and probably swallowed parts of. He has lots of toys and seems to have an insatiable urge to chew them and dismantle them yet he still ants to get to the rocks. I may need to ratchet up corrections but hope he will grow out of this.

  8. Avatar Of Susan Walsh

    Susan Walsh

    says:

    Two 8 week old Golden Retriever puppies. I live in AZ and my yard is rock. They are digging to dirt and end up with rocks. I play with them to distract. And walk on a leash, but they will be manic to get the spot
    I am going to try the sour apple stuff
    Wish me luck and if anyone has an idea please let me know.

  9. Avatar Of Marilyn

    marilyn

    says:

    I adopted a dog that had been a puppy mill dog. She is 9 years old and has no teeth but loves rocks. So far she has passed them in poop or vomit. She eats a balanced diet and ofcourse doesn't know how to play with toys or chews. very concerned that someday she won't pass them on her own. Whole yard is graveled so can't remedy that. She goes out the doggy door sometimes even during the night. Wish me luck

  10. Avatar Of Doug

    doug

    says:

    We are looking after my son's dog (14 week old Boxer ) We were told she is eating rocks, sure enough
    3 came up this morning after a nights sleep,one about 4cm x 2cm and two 2cm x 2cm and a couple in the poop.Thank's for your information we will try to eliminate this behaviour.

  11. Avatar Of Gayle

    Gayle

    says:

    I have a 7 year old red & white irish setter that just went into emergency surgery to remove a boat load of stones and some smaller shells. $6000 so no doubt I will try to get to the root cause. Being a RN, will help in my quest for answers. I am thinking along the lines of a diet deficiency.

  12. Avatar Of Kandy Justus

    Kandy Justus

    says:

    my eight week old cattle pups I just brought home are eating rocks just got him yesterday so I was looking it up and I found all you guys going to try some of your suggestions glad you guys wrote good luck with all your dogs

  13. Avatar Of Sherri Winslow

    Sherri Winslow

    says:

    4 1/2 mo old puppy just had exploratory surgery for $800+ due to eating rocks (14 large) and 2 of them getting lodged in the pylorus. Very scary and can be very expensive. Emergency Hospital wanted $2600.

  14. Avatar Of Beau Beau says:

    My Golden is now four months and tries to eat small rocks on our walks. It hard to avoid but I’ve heard horror stories.

  15. Avatar Of Sadiesue

    SadieSue

    says:

    Our dear little Golden Retriever (5 months and growing!) is always trying to eat something he shouldn’t, especially gravel and rocks. He has learned to hide his stolen rocks somewhere in his mouth, and even with a flashlight we can’t find it! But he starts chewing it again once we lay off of him. He is very clever, and even though we always eventually find the stuff he stuffs in his mouth, it is frustrating. We live in a rural area, and despite having a fenced acre for his use, we have to kep him on a leash, or he eats the yard. Given we are retired, we spend all day with him, so i don’t think he is bored. Anyone? How do we break this habit?

  16. Avatar Of Kj

    kj

    says:

    My basset started eating rocks. We took him to the vet for xrays and they found 4 in there.They also figured out he had a heart condition that was making his heart so big it was encroaching on his esophagus. They did surgery to remove the rocks and got him on meds for his heart. He still lived 3 years after that.

  17. Avatar Of Suzi Mcgregor

    Suzi McGregor

    says:

    My English bulldog is close to 11 years old and has many joint issues. The vet recently put her on prednisone and tramadol for her pain. She does great on that combination of drugs. Very recently, she’s started eating rocks with soil. The last older dog I had that started doing this had multiple tumors. I’m concerned it’s either her medication or she’s very ill like my previous pet. Any thoughts?

  18. Avatar Of Robbin Watson

    Robbin Watson

    says:

    My lab; Tali loved to chew on rocks, she ended up with a tiny chip in her tonsil that was making her cough. She went to the emergency vet and it was a $1000.00 to have it removed. She was on an antibiotic for a week and “cough syrup”. She no longer chews on rocks. Not everyone can do this but we put in a pond and threw in 5 gold fish and she chases them until she is exhausted. Also lost a lot of weight and she is no longer “obese’ either

  19. Avatar Of Margaret

    Margaret

    says:

    Our recently adopted Yorkie mix likes sticks and (yuk)poop. Obviously I work hard to avoid these things, but living in the country that kind of stuff is always out there. Any suggestions to curtail this?

    • Avatar Of Pam

      Pam

      says:

      Try to teach him the command ‘leave it’. It works really well for every dog I’ve had, if your with them when they do it. They pick It Up REALLY quickly. Tell them to LEAVE IT & put something in their face (attention) & move them away from it, the reward when they move away. Good luck!

  20. Avatar Of Judy

    Judy

    says:

    Our puppy did this when we first brought him home. Anytime he’d pick up a rock, we’d say “off” and give him a treat (chicken). He learned the off command very quickly. To the point that if he wanted a treat, he’d go get a rock, bring it to us and drop it at our feet! Smart pup.

    • Avatar Of Leslie

      Leslie

      says:

      My dog is pretty smart and trained on most things too! I hear people everyday at the dog park and other places who have the same problem and what works for one may not work with another. Even though we monitor him constantly and remove rocks from his mouth daily (many times) I would never take food or treats in the dog park which is where he does this most of the time! I have even thought about this being nervous habit that he does when he gets nervous or stressed!

  21. Avatar Of Leslie

    Leslie

    says:

    My dog (Australian Cattle Dog) grazes on rocks, wood, grass and anything else he can eat. He has done this since he was a pup. We have tried everything on this list and he gets to go to dog park everyday plus running or walking. I am almost always with him and goes with me most places. He has never had any trouble but I have always feared this habit would cause trouble sooner or later. I am at the end of my rope trying to figure it out.

    • Avatar Of J B Mountain J B MOUNTAIN says:

      I have anew cattle dog puppy that does the very same thing ! I am very worried about him.

      • Avatar Of Frontrangeliving

        FrontRangeLiving

        says:

        I have a cattle dog that has indulged in grass from time to time her whole life. This usually goes down when we are on a long mountain hike so I have no idea how often or how much she is eating, but I see her nibbling and probably more often catch the wretching happening as it comes back up. It has always been harmless and perhaps is serving a purpose?

        Anyway, just yesterday a wretching of hers went down in the house (very unsusal). It was full of rocks (a first) and had no grass. I do not know what to think so here I am on the internet just like all of you. 🙂

    • Avatar Of Patti

      Patti

      says:

      I am with you. My Scottie is eating, chewing and swallowing the slate rocks. I don’t know what to do

    • Avatar Of Jill

      jill

      says:

      Interesting! I’m googling because my 9 year old Cattle Dog started eating rocks too.
      Maybe it’s something with this breed. She knows she shouldn’t so she sneaks them into the house & goes into the extra bedroom (which she thinks is hers) and eats her rocks.
      Anyway – they are the sweetest & smartest dogs is the world.

    • Avatar Of Mary

      Mary

      says:

      I’ve got a three month old Aussie and he is eating rocks too…so scary I’ve seen several people on here talking about cattle dogs affection towards chewing rocks so wondering if it’s a breed issue.

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