Top 3 Reasons Why Dogs Chew and Eat Rocks and Gravel

Rock eating could stem from a number of causes including health and psychological issues. Also known as pica, the act of eating non-food objects like rocks and gravel is dangerous to dogs. Here are the top reasons for this behavior and ways you can stop it.

1. Health issues including indigestion

Rock and gravel eating could be a sign of a stomach or intestinal problem. It may point to a variety of issues such as stomach tumors, inflammatory bowel disease, or the presence of internal parasites such as hookworms. The dog may chew and eat the rocks due to the discomfort and pain that arises from such these health issues.

For puppies, the act of chewing rocks may also have to do with teething. This is the period when young dogs grow out their puppy teeth. Teething can cause mild discomfort and pain. Puppies will seek hard objects, such as rocks, to chew on to relieve some of the pain.

Rock stuck inside dog's stomach

2. Stress and anxiety

Dogs will engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as chewing rocks, if they are bored, anxious, or stressed. Dogs are innately curious. They will look for new things around them and may chew them out of curiosity. Rocks and gravel are no exceptions to this.

3. Attention-seeking behavior

You may have inadvertently taught your dog that engaging in behaviors such as chewing rocks will result in getting your immediate attention. This will most often happen to dogs that are bored.

Pet owners with rescue dogs should also consider their dog’s history. Some rescue dogs may have a dark past including experiences of abuse and trauma or experiences of being starved. Dogs don’t forget. Their past history may cause dogs to engage in a behavior that isn’t considered normal.

Why rock-eating is dangerous to dogs

Rocks can’t be digested. The rocks can create obstructions in the dog’s digestive tract. Sharp rocks may also cause organ laceration and internal bleeding.

In the best case scenario, the rocks and gravels the dog ate are tiny. In such cases, the dog may just poop out the rocks as they may just pass through the digestive tract with little harm. This, however, isn’t something you want to leave to chance.

How to stop a dog from chewing and eating rocks

First off, punishing your dog isn’t the answer to stopping the pica behavior. You need to first take your dog to the vet and rule out any health issues that could push your dog to eating gravel and rocks.

When examining your dog’s health, it’s important to check whether your dog is suffering from nutritional deficiency. Some dogs are known to seek non-edible objects when their dietary needs aren’t being sufficiently fulfilled.

In addition to checking your dog’s health, make sure your dog is getting enough mental and physical stimulation. This dangerous chewing behavior shouldn’t come as a surprise if you rarely play with your dog or if your dog is alone for long periods of time.

Last but not least, make sure there are plenty of safe toys that your dog can chew on. We recommend rotating the chew toys so that your dog would rarely ever get bored and find something else to chew on.

Book an online vet appointment if your dog has an emergency but your local vet isn't available. Vetster is available 24/7 for video chat appointments.

Disclaimer: The content on MyPetChild.com is for informational purpose only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian when in doubt.

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