Weird Things Your Dog May Be Eating

In this post:

  1. Why does my dog eat weird things?
  2. Why does my dog eat dirt?
  3. Why does my dog eat poop?
  4. Why does my dog eat grass?
  5. How to stop your dog from eating non-food items?

Is your dog randomly eating non-food items? This can be a perfectly normal behavior but can be a sign that something is wrong. Your vet can examine your dog to see what is causing these issues and help you with behavior training to stop these unwanted behaviors.

Why does my dog eat weird things?

Some dogs have a higher drive to eat everything and anything, hence counter surfing and garbage diving. There are some conditions like Pica a medical issue referring to a dog’s craving of a non-food item and the subsequent eating of said item. Talk to your vet if concerns arise. In the meantime, supervise your dog with his toys or buy indestructible toys to be left alone with. Control your dog’s access to inappropriate items like toilet paper, garbage, and human food. Supervise your dog with toys, sticks, and in Truffle’s case pinecones. They can chew and shred them, just not swallow them.

Why does my dog eat dirt?

Dogs eat dirt for mineral deficiencies and tummy upsets. Many dogs many eat dirt just because it tastes good or they find food droppings from other animals or birds in it.

Dirt eating usually does not cause a problem, however, seek veterinary help if the behavior started suddenly or there are any other indications that your dog might be sick or anxious. Your vet might also suggest changing your dog’s diet or checking for internal presides.

Why does my dog eat poop?

Poop eating is a very common behavior in domesticated dogs, it is referred to as coprophagy which means eating of feces or dung. In fact, many animals partake in this what seems to be quite gross behavior. Coprophagy, or poop eating, can be caused by behavior or medical issues.

Odds are, your dog just really likes the taste of it. Some eat poop to help with some nutritional replacement. It might not seem like it, but dogs like their environment clean, so they might be “cleaning” up after themselves. In the wild, dogs will eat poop to clean their homes and to get rid of the smell that might attract other animals. Pick up after your dog when you are able to prevent them from eating it. I have heard adding pineapple juice to the food makes the poop taste bad.

There may be a medical reason or a behavioral reason that your dog would be eating poop.

Medical Reasons your Dog May Be Eating Poop

If your dog starts to eat his own feces or another dogs’ stool, you should take him to the vet to rule out any potential health problems like:

Behavioral Reasons that your Dog May Be Eating Poop

Some dogs just really like the taste of stool. They might have started off simply investigating the poop, sniffing it, playing with it when they were unsupervised or bored, and eventually just eating it. Because poop eating gets the owner’s attention, poop eating could have become a self-reinforcing behavior. So, they eat poop to get the owner to notice them.

Benjamin L. Hart, DVM, Ph.D., concluded that most dogs eat poop due to innate predisposition to protect fellow pack members from potential parasites that will form on the stool. What this means, is that dogs like a clean environment. Poop eating could simply signify your dog cleaning up after themselves.

Many environmental stresses like anxiety, stress, boredom, isolation, attention-seeking, or confinement can cause your dog to eat poop. Contact a behavior specialist to consult on any behavior issues.

Why does my dog eat grass?

It may look like your dog is part cow as he munches on grass, and you may be wondering how safe it is, or if there is something wrong with your dog’s diet. According to Dr. Michael Goldberg, DVM, DCHom, “Dogs do not have the means to digest grass, as they lack the enzymes needed to break down the fibers. Thus, there is little nutritional value in it for them. One reason for eating grass may be due to a feeling of nausea. It is possible that dogs learn this is a temporary solution for stomach irritation.” He also adds that some dogs just seem to really enjoy eating grass. Like they savor the flavor.

How to stop your dog from eating nonfood items?

There are some reason’s why your dog is eating things that may not be safe or not food. This could be curiosity, an increase in appetite, or a sign of emotional problems such as boredom and anxiety. It could also be some health problems such as pica or thyroid issues.

Always talk to your vet if you have any concerns about health or nutrition.

This should be your first stop. You can work with your veterinarian to find supplements or dietary changes to help your dog not want to eat weird things.

Work with a professional behaviorist to understand underlying behavioral issues.

If nothing is wrong with your dog’s health, talk to a trainer about redirecting these behaviors, and helping stimulate your dog mentally to fight boredom.

If your dog is eating poop:

As soon as your dog poops – clean up after your dog right away! If you pick it up, they can’t eat it. Supervise your dog when outside to keep them from eating poop. Avoid dog parks where they would have access to another dog’s stool. Work on commands like “leave it” and “come” to get your dog away from the stool.

If they are eating grass or dirt:

You can train them that these are not appropriate things and redirect their attention to something else.

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Final Thoughts

While eating things such as grass, poop, or dirty can be a sign of a medical condition, many times this is just normal behavior. Your vet can examine your dog and see why they are eating these weird things and make sure that there is nothing causing them to eat these things. If there is nothing medically wrong with your dog, you can start training your dog not to eat these things.

Aly DelaCoeur, UW-AAB
Aly DelaCoeur, UW-AAB is one of the founders of Wag Enabled (originally Why Does My Dog). Aly has a certificate in applied animal behavior through the University of Washington and is a certified veterinary assistant and AKC Evaluator. She aims to provide an unbiased perspective on dog training by providing practical, intelligent, and caring advice for people to impart on their canine companions