Eating Non-Food Items (Pica)
We don’t always understand why our dogs engage in certain behaviors, and eating household objects such as dirt, paper towels, clothing, stool/poop and other strange things are some behaviors that are still very mysterious and perplexing to pet owners and veterinarians.
While an occasional munch on dirt or round of chewing on a household item is normally not harmful to dogs, a tendency to dine on items not suitable for eating can cause a variety of health problems. Dirt and household items can contain harmful chemicals or particles that are not digestible and/or can be dangerous to your dog’s health. If you notice that your dog is eating or swallowing household objects, it is important to work with your dog to try and break the habit. You will also need to keep an eye out for any signs of health problems that may develop if your dog eats a lot of strange objects.
Training Tips to Stop Dogs From Eating Household Items
Dogs can sometimes eat things that seem impossible to digest. Sometimes dogs eat objects that their bodies cannot handle, and they need emergency surgery to remove the object. If you notice that your dog has a tendency to eat strange objects, it is important that you stop this behavior immediately, or one day your dog could be in serious danger.
Most dogs eat strange objects because they are teething, or they are bored. To prevent your dog from eating strange objects it is important that you address these two contributing factors. A puppy that is teething needs a lot of chewies specifically created for teething puppies; keep these chewies all over the house so that the puppy will not need to seek out other objects to chew on. If you notice the puppy chewing on something other than a chewy, tell the puppy 'no', take the object away, and give the puppy a short time out; then give the puppy a chewy and praise the puppy while he or she uses it.
If your dog is becoming bored and eating strange objects as a result, you will need to find different ways of keeping your dog more entertained. Increased walks, new toys, a friend, or even doggy day care should be considered in these cases.
In some rare cases dogs eat strange objects because they have behavioral and psychological problems. If you are concerned that your dog may be eating strange objects due to a mental problem, you should have your dog examined by a veterinarian. Some medications can help to stop this type of behavior. In addition your dog should not be bred, or this type of dangerous behavior can be passed on to the puppies.