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My dog keeps eating everything!

Watching a puppy playfully gnawing on a shoelace can be adorable, but correcting this behavior before it becomes obsessive or dangerous is important. Our vets in Redmond discuss the reasons for this behavior and whether or not it should be a cause for concern.

Dogs That Eat Anything

"Have you ever wondered, 'Why does my dog eat everything?' It's a common concern among pet owners, especially those with puppies or dogs that seem to have an insatiable appetite for anything they can find on the ground. From grass to dead animals, and even their own feces, some dogs will eat just about anything they come across.

Why do some dogs exhibit the behavior of eating everything?

There are several reasons why dogs exhibit this behavior. Firstly, it's important to understand that dogs explore the world with their mouths like human babies do. Puppies, in particular, go through a phase of oral exploration where they taste everything they encounter. This behavior is perfectly normal during puppyhood, but it can become problematic if it persists into adulthood.

What Dogs Eat & Why

The term for eating non-edible objects for humans and animals is Pica. Dogs with pica practically compulsively urge to eat non-digestible items, including rocks, dirt, and sticks. It's believed that animals with pica might be missing essential minerals or other nutrients in their diet. If you think your canine companion's urge to nibble on non-edible objects could be a sign of pica, call your vet.

Following is a list of the most common items dogs and puppies love to eat and whether you should be worried or not:


Dogs will often much on grass, however, some dogs enjoy eating grass more than others. If your pup is healthy, eating grass is usually considered safe because the grass is not heavily coated in chemicals.

It's believed that dogs eat grass for various reasons, including introducing more fiber into their gastrointestinal tract, relieving boredom, or because they enjoy it. If your pup is eating an alarming amount of grass, talk to your vet about ways you can curb this behavior.


It's common for puppies to eat dirt. We don't know why dogs choose to eat dirt, but it's believed that it's due to the different scents given off by different areas, such as a field, forest floor, or mulch pile. Eating dirt could help puppies better understand the world around them. If your canine companion takes to the odd taste of dirt, there's probably nothing to worry about.

However, eating large quantities of dirt can be problematic because too much could clog up your dog's digestive tract. If your pup loves eating dirt, talk to your vet about what could be causing this behavior and how you can stop it.


Lots of dogs love to eat and play with rocks, which can be a real health concern. Chewing rocks can damage your dog's teeth and gums and cause choking, which is a very serious hazard. If your pup is a teething puppy, try providing them with lots of fun chew toys.

If your adult dog is obsessed with eating rocks, visiting the vet's a wise idea. Rock eating can be a symptom of boredom, anxiety, or attention-seeking. Your veterinarian will be able to help you diagnose the cause of this behavior and recommend some ways to prevent your dog from eating stones.

Dead Animals

Your dog could be eating dead animals because it is intrigued by the smell they give off. The longer a dead animal sits, the better it smells to the dog because the smell becomes stronger with time. Another reason dogs can put dead animals and roadkill in their mouths is that they used to be bred and trained for hunting, killing, and retrieving animals. Breeds such as labradors and golden retrievers could still have this instinct in them.

If your dog is only sniffing or carrying the dead animal, there isn't much cause for concern unless it was poisoned or has a disease that could then be passed on to your dog. However, if your dog eats part or all of the dead animal, call your vet immediately and tell them everything you know about the situation ( how long the animal was dead, how much of it your dog ate, etc.). Your vet will also ask you further questions to understand the situation better and then will tell you to bring your dog in or to keep an eye on them for any symptoms or odd behaviors.


Pet parents visit us often at the end of their wits because they are disgusted with their dog's habit of eating poop. However, poop eating is so common it actually has the name 'coprophagia' (kop-ruh-fey-jee-uh), and this can be due to a combination of behavioral, genetic, and psychological factors.

It's generally harmless for dogs to eat their own poop; however, eating the poop of other dogs or animals is a cause for concern because parasites, viruses, and toxins can be transmitted through feces.

One theory suggests that poop eating can be part of your dog's innate scavenging tendencies, developed as a survival tool for times when food is scarce. After all, a dog can't afford to be too picky when there is no food to be found.

Some physical reasons that dogs eat poop may include:

  • Parasites
  • Diets deficient in nutrients and calories
  • Malabsorption syndromes
  • Diabetes
  • Cushing’s Disease
  • Thyroid disease and other conditions that can cause increased appetite
  • Steroids and other medications

Other factors that lead to your dog eating poop include:

  • Isolation and boredom
  • Restrictive confinement
  • Anxiety
  • Attention-seeking
  • Inappropriate association with real food

What To Do When Your Dog Won't Stop Eating

While training is a potential solution, there are other ways to try to curb your dog's behavior yourself.

  • To relieve your dog's boredom, try spending more time with them and use fun, interactive toys
  • Move any dangerous objects out of your dog's reach in case they don't respond to training
  • Don't give your dog attention if they're misbehaving; it may reinforce the behavior
  • You can try spraying the items your dog typically tries to eat with a non-toxic dog-repellent spray
  • If your dog is acting out due to stress or anxiety, your vet may recommend drug therapy if other methods aren't effective
  • If your dog acts out this behavior on walks, prevent them from eating items off the ground

When should I be concerned?

If you suspect that your dog's inappropriate chewing or eating habits are due to pica or any other medical condition, it's essential to consult your veterinarian to address it. However, if it's more of a behavioral problem, you can likely correct it with time, patience, and affection. 

Regardless of the cause, it's crucial to ensure your dog's health and safety by keeping hazardous objects out of their reach.

What happens if my dog overeats?

If a person eats excessively, they may experience unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, painful gas cramps, or general discomfort. However, these symptoms usually resolve themselves without any serious harm done.

On the other hand, dogs can experience a serious condition known as canine bloat if they eat too much or too fast. This occurs when excessive gas accumulates in the dog's stomach, causing it to twist. Canine bloat can be life-threatening and can result in fatal consequences within a few hours for many dogs.

If your dog displays any of the following symptoms, it is important to take them to a veterinarian or emergency clinic immediately:

  • Pacing or whining
  • Shallow breathing
  • Anxiety
  • Stomach seems distended or enlarged
  • Unable to get comfortable
  • Avoids laying on their side
  • Unable to pass feces
  • Change in the color of their gums (dark red, blue, white, and cold)
  • Licking at the air

How can I prevent canine bloat?

  • Feed your dog smaller, more frequent meals
  • Use a slow feeder bowl to cut down on overeating or eating too fast
  • Try to separate dogs at feeding time if you have more than one

Your veterinarian will be able to give your dog a nose-to-tail examination to check for signs of illness, discuss the causes of your dog's odd eating habits, and provide you with valuable advice on your pet's nutritional and caloric requirements based on your companion's size and breed.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

To learn more about eating and behavioral issues and disorders, contact our Redmond vets to book an appointment today.

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