Weird Stuff Dogs Eat

rottweiler chihuahua and food bowl

WEIRD STUFF DOGS EAT

Owners fill bowls with nutritious food to keep dogs healthy. So why do dogs eat weird, disgusting and even dangerous stuff?

Dogs use their mouths the way we use our hands. They pick up objects and explore their world by mouthing, tasting, and chewing. That sometimes gets them into trouble if they swallow something they shouldn’t. Find out why dogs eat grass in this post. But that’s not nearly as objectionable as some other targets.

Poop Eating Pups

Poop eating—called coprophagia—disgusts owners but this common habit comes naturally especially to puppies. Mom-dogs keep the nest clean by picking up after the babies, and youngsters typically copy-cat the behavior. Most pups outgrow the habit. But many dogs continue to snack on cat box “treats” or the leavings of cows and horses because—well—it must taste good to them. Also, the cat, horse or other critter may not have completely digested all the nutrients so the dog relishes giving the poop another chance.

Eating Dirt

We’re not sure why dogs eat dirt but many seem to relish certain types of soil. Some wild animals target clay-like soils that naturally absorb toxins, and others are known to eat mineral-rich dirt to supplement their diet.

For dogs, scent probably plays a role. Perhaps another animal has “marked” that spot of dirt, so the dog tastes to get a better “read” on the message. Dogs seem to preferentially target specific types or locations of dirt, too. Eating too much dirt can plug up doggy plumbing but an occasional taste probably isn’t worry-worthy.

Eating “Stuff”

Dogs swallow an amazing range of nonedible items and it goes beyond eating the kid’s homework. The behavior is called pica, and can be an accident when the dog gulps down a piece of a toy. Pica may be purposeful if the object proves too tempting—baby bottle nipples that smell of milk, used tampons, and grease-smeared foil or turkey-basted string prove irresistible to dogs.

The most common item is socks, followed by underwear, panty hose, rocks, balls, chew toys, bones, hair ties/ribbons, and sticks. Most items tend to be owner-scented objects and dirty diapers are another favorite—it combines the attraction of poop-eating.

But some dogs seem drawn to such weird items as pagers, hearing aids, drywall, batteries, rubber bands, or anything (including sand!) with bacon grease poured on it. Dogs develop bad habits out of boredom, stress or even obsessive-compulsive behaviors and turn into garbage disposals. These dogs chew and suck down rocks and sticks.

Poke The Poop

In most cases small objects pass harmlessly through the body and end up on the lawn within 24-72 hours. Get a stick and wear gloves to poke through the doggy droppings to be sure he’s gotten rid of the object. Feeding your dog a meal can turn on digestive juices, cushion the item, and help move it along.

But sharp objects can cut, heavy stones can plug the system, and string-type material (thread, ribbon, Easter grass, tape from a cassette) can cut and strangle the intestines. Swallowed coins, batteries or other metal objects can poison pets once they react with digestive juices. String hanging out of either end of the dog shouldn’t be touched, or you risk hurting him worse.

If you’ve seen the pet swallow something he shouldn’t but it doesn’t pass, or the dog begins vomiting, retching without result, won’t eat, looks or behaves distressed, or coughs repeatedly, seek help. It may require X-rays to figure out what’s wrong on the inside of your pet, and surgery to get it out.

Most puppies outgrow indiscriminate munching. But if your dog vacuums up anything that hits the floor, pet proof doggy toys as well as your home. It could save you veterinary bills—and your pet’s life.

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Comments

Weird Stuff Dogs Eat — 21 Comments

  1. I thought my dogs ate weird stuff, this is quite an exhaustive list! I had forgotten how my dogs loved eating my cat’s poop – it was like a delicacy to them. It took a stealth mission to keep them away from the litter box! Thanks for a great post.

  2. Enjoyed your blog – very informative. Well I don’t have a dog but my cat Termite is now 2 years old and if his 10 year old brother (Thomas) pukes Termite wants to eat it and has always wanted to do this. However, he does not prefer his sister’s puke. It grosses me out. Your thoughts?

    • Dogs do this a lot, cats not do much. Probably depends more on if it’s actual vomiting (fully digested ) or regurgitation (more immediate & not digested).

  3. One of mine occasionally eats poop. I read that feeding pumpkin will sometimes discourage it and have done that. Can’t really say if it clearly works or not though!

  4. Very interesting info. I love the videos! Dogs and cats do eat some crazy things sometimes. I’ve been really fortunate and my cats are not big on eating things other than food. I’m very careful about house plants though, just in case they decide to give one a try.

  5. The worst thing my Corgi Scarlett ever ate was a rotten fish on the riverbank that she grabbed a bite of before I even realized she had anything. Fortunately it didn’t hurt her but man did she stink!!

    • Ewww….Hi Patty, that’s actually more common in dogs but cats do sometimes to that. It could be a combo of “cleaning up the next” or if regurgitation (not vomit) could simply be predigested and yummy to the cat. *shrug*

  6. After seeing this list I don’t feel too bad about what Ted eats – grass that needs to be pulled out the other end and wild animal poop. His favorite is snacking at the goose poop buffet. I just worry about him getting a parasite, so he gets a full poop analysis every year. All clear.

    • Magic once tried to eat a stick, and it got caught across the roof of his mouth. Scary! He came running to me, screaming, mouth wide open…and luckily let me get it out.

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