Why Does My Dog Consume Inedible Things?

why does my dog consume inedible things, puppy training

In college, I was a Psychology and English Major. I wanted to help people with their struggles in life. Truth be told, I wanted to go to Medical School, but I got married and life and finances got in the way.

While I was working my way through my bachelors, my finances ran out and I began training and working with dogs full time. I am pretty sure my parents are still disappointed that being a dog trainer is “the best I could do with my life”.

Yet, I think that all those years in college studying humans and human mental conditions have helped me to work with humans (pet parents) and to better understand our furry friends. Honestly, I wouldn’t change those experiences for anything!

Why does a dog consume inedible things?

I am a firm believer that dogs suffer from the same types of mental disorders that people can suffer from.

After all, we both can get cancer and other physiological diseases and disorders, why then would we think our dogs couldn’t suffer from some of the same mental challenges? I can’t prove this ;)  but I am a firm believer and recent studies are confirming my allegations.

Pica Disorder and Dogs

Pica is a mental disorder where the human sufferer has a strong desire to eat things that are non-nutritive and not considered food like hair, paper, rocks, drywall, glue, etc.

There used to be a television show called “My Strange Addiction” that premiered on TLC in 2010 and many of those depicted suffered from forms of PICA.  Some ate toilet paper, cleanser, and detergent.

And, although I am not a big believer in “reality TV”, because I think most of these shows are driven by ratings and aren’t always totally real, I was still intrigued.

I am aware that PICA is a real disorder.

I am also aware that some dogs suffer from the seemingly same type of disorder.

It is as if the dog is obsessed by consuming non-nutritive items like socks, rocks, sticks, mulch, and anything else they can get their snouts on to consume.why does my dog consume inedible things, puppy training

This is very difficult to change or even control, as some parts of this behavior resemble OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, which is a mental health disorder, and not a “behavior”.

Often, dogs diagnosed with this disorder are encouraged to be walked on leash while wearing a basket muzzle so that they cannot consume dangerous items.

It is also recommended that any gravel or mulch be removed from the yard to prevent accidental ingestion.

Unfortunately I have seen young dogs euthanized because their owners couldn’t afford multiple emergency obstruction surgeries and were unable to manage or control their dog’s consumption.

But Thankfully

But, thankfully most dogs don’t suffer from the OCD mental disorder called Pica.

The truth is, most dogs are just bored!

Remember, your dog doesn’t have hands.

He can’t read a book, or catch up with his friends on Facebook or Twitter.

He can’t plan a vacation, or a hike, or take himself for a walk.  Dogs don’t choose to exercise themselves.

So when they are left to their own devices… they use what they have, their mouths, to entertain themselves.

Frequently, they actually swallow things they shouldn’t, because we have chased them around and taken so many things away from them.

It is like, in their mind, they had better swallow whatever they get before we have a chance to take it away from them.   And, that makes for dangerous behavior and consequences.


Your dog needs exercise!

He can’t provide it for himself, so you must carve out time to provide it for him.

A one hour run next to your bike is a lot better than a $5,000 surgery to have his bowel reconstructed!

Mental exercise and stimulation also helps.  Ian Dunbar says that mental exercise tires a dog physically more than physical exercise does!

That means that the more time you spend training him and teaching him dog obedience and tricks the better behaved he will be and the less likely he is to consume things that he should not.

Take Out the Conflict

I like to eliminate the conflict that occurs when I have to take something from my dog.

If there is no conflict, there is no reason that my dog will try and quickly swallow anything he takes.

For a free report on how to take items away from your dog without conflict, click here.


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  1. Robbin says:

    How do I stop my 5 month old pup from eating deer poop??


  2. Ggyjut65rt says:

    How to I stop my dog from eating wood.


  3. Dana says:

    Dogs consume fecal matter of herbivores in order to obtain digestive bacteria, which they may lack in their own guts It can also be a sign of trypsin deficiency. Trypsin is a digestive enzyme essential for the digestion of proteins and is produced naturally in the spleen, it helps with the digestion process directly, and indirectly also by promoting beneficial bacteria to flourish.. However, if there is a slight malfunction of the spleen and it is not being produced in sufficient quantities, for whatever reason, then the dog may try to make up for the deficiency by obtaining the essential bacteria from external sources. Fecal matter is over 80% bacteria, along with a lot of undigested matter containing digestive enzymes. Unfortunately, it also contains a lot of harmful bacteria too which can make the dog sick.
    The best way to prevent the dog from consuming fecal matter is to add digestive enzymes and beneficial bacteria (probiotics), along with prebiotics (collared greens like broccoli, spinach, dandelion leaves) which aid in the absorption of probiotics) into his/her food. There are many different brands of digestive enzymes with added probiotics, for dogs available in the shops and over the internet – the best thing to do is try a few different brands and see which one suits your dog the best. You can also try adding fresh pineapple juice and some brewers’ yeast to your dog’s food; pineapple contains a digestive enzyme called bromelain which will help. However, if your dog has weak kidneys, or is anemic then, brewers’ yeast may not be appropriate as it inhibits the absorption of iron.
    I hope this helps… Good luck!


  4. Deva says:

    How do you keep dog from chewing on his collar. She goes through collars weekly.


    Minette Reply:

    Try bitter apple


  5. Leslie Elliot says:

    Aussie/Huskie mix chews everything. I’ve run her 5 miles, I’ve had all day playdates, I’ve used bitter apple. HELP


  6. cth says:

    My 9 month old black lab ate a rock and almost died. I know that I should not panic when he gets one in his mouth because then he runs with it in his mouth and knows we will take it away from him. If I exchange a rock for a treat then it seems I am rewarding him for picking up a rock? Please help. Lucky he passed the rock.


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