Some dogs suffer from a condition known as pica, which involves the desire to eat nonfood items, including rocks. This potentially dangerous compulsion can lead to tooth damage, choking and an intestinal blockage if the rocks are too large to pass through the intestines. To prevent your dog from becoming ill from the ingestion of rocks, take steps to stop her from accessing or eating any rocks in her vicinity.
Bring your dog to a veterinarian for a full physical examination, blood tests and X-rays. Some dogs suffer from a vitamin or mineral deficiency, such as anemia, that causes them to eat rocks to obtain these nutrients. Others may suffer from underlying diseases including diabetes, gastrointestinal issues or hyperthyroidism. Treating any illness diagnosed may stop your dog from eating rocks.
Walk your dog on a leash and supervise her while you are outdoors, especially in the vicinity of rocks. Don't allow your dog to go off on her own, such as in an off-leash dog park, where she may find and eat rocks. Keep your dog on a leash in your own yard as well and in your line of sight.
Give your dog a variety of chew toys to play with during the day. Harder chew toys made of sturdy plastic have a similar texture to rocks, making them a safe alternative that is attractive to your dog. Coat the toys with a tasty substance such as peanut butter or cream cheese to tempt your dog to chew on them.
Free-feed your dog dry kibble. By providing your dog with dry food to eat during the day, she will be less likely to want to ingest rocks, especially if the reason for the rock eating is hunger. If you are worried about your dog becoming overweight, choose a low-calorie dry dog food to feed her, which usually contains higher amounts of fiber to keep her feeling full for a longer period of time.
Play with your dog and exercise her frequently; this is a productive way to spend quality time with her. Some dogs who are bored begin to eat rocks and other nonfood items as a way to get attention. Exercise and games, such as fetch or tug-of-war, engage your dog and tires her out so that she will not want to eat rocks.
Keep your dog indoors when you are not present to supervise her. If you have any rocks indoors, put them away in places your dog cannot access them.
Spray a bitter taste deterrent spray on any rocks you cannot remove from your yard to discourage your dog from trying to eat them, even under your supervision.
If you suspect your dog has ingested some rocks and appears lethargic, begins to vomit or refuses to eat, bring her to a veterinarian. The ingestion of nonfood items can lead to an intestinal blockage, which can be fatal, and requires surgical removal.
Never yell at or hit your dog for eating rocks. Not only is this cruel, but a verbal scolding may inadvertently provide your dog with the attention she desires, reinforcing the unwanted behavior.
Remove any rocks that you see in your yard, especially smaller ones that are easily swallowed.
Psychological medications can help curb pica tendencies in dogs; speak to your veterinarian about these drugs to help treat your dog.
Some teething puppies will chew on rocks to alleviate the pain in their gums. For teething puppies, place water in chew toys and freeze them. Give the frozen toys to your puppy to chew on and soothe her inflamed gums.
Bring chew toys with you on walks with your dog. If your dog attempts to pick up or eat a rock, direct her attention away from the rock and to the toy. Verbally praise her for playing with, and chewing on, the toy instead of the rock.
Items You Will Need
- Chew toys
- Peanut butter or cream cheese
- Dry dog food
- Bitter taste deterrent
- rough collie dog portrait image by Janet Wall from Fotolia.com