Skip to Content

Why Do Dogs Eat Rocks – Is It Safe?

When I was a dog walker, one of my clients was a lovely little labrador puppy. I noticed he was obsessed with eating rocks in the area around his newly built apartment building, where they were everywhere. I couldn’t get them away from him fast enough! Some dogs are like that but with something far more dangerous: Rocks and stones. So, why do dogs eat rocks?

Dogs eat rocks because of a behavioral, nutritional, or medical issue. Pica may also cause dogs to eat rocks as a coping mechanism. Eating rocks or stones is dangerous for your dog.

In this article, we will look at the ins and outs of dogs chomping down on rocks and stones, what you need to do, why it might happen, and how you can get it to stop. 

Why Would Dogs Chew On Rocks And Stones

The answer to this question depends on your dog. If you’ve got a puppy, they may just be exploring the world around them. If your dog is consistently eating rocks or stones, it’s essential to assess their behaviors and situation. If they’re an older dog and the behavior starts suddenly, you could have a bigger problem. 

Dogs chewing on rocks or stones can indicate pica, disease-causing animals to chew on or ingest things that are not edible. It could also mean your dog is not getting certain nutrients from their food, specifically phosphorous, iron, and calcium.

Your dog’s breed and size affect their nutrition needs, so it’s essential to make sure their food is chock full of necessary nutrients for their breed. Additionally, labs, pit bulls, retrievers, and some other breeds tend to want to process their surroundings through their mouths! Finally, the dog could be feeling lonely or stressed. 

It’s essential to evaluate your dog’s situation around the time the rock-eating begins. Have you been away from the house a lot lately? Has there been a move or a new family member added to the household?

Have they shown interest in licking or eating other non-food items? Have they gained or lost weight? Your veterinarian will want to know the answers to these questions to make a diagnosis and help stop your pup from eating these harmful items! 

Is It Bad If A Dog Swallows A Rock Or Stone

It’s not recommended for a dog to swallow a rock. Though their wolf ancestors chew on rocks, domesticated dogs cannot handle the intestinal upset caused by these heavy and sometimes sharp objects. 

What Happens When Dogs Eat Rocks Or Stones

Eating a rock or stone can cause intestinal blockage and puts your canine at risk for punctured organs. The item itself can be a choking hazard. 

Depending on the size and texture of the rock or stone relative to the size of your dog, everything may be alright for the time being. What you don’t want is for your dog to get in the habit of swallowing these items. It can lead to trying to eat other things, and eventually, they’re bound to get ahold of a rock or stone that’s too big for them. 

Dogs who eat a rock or stone and are listless, lethargic, or lack appetite are likely in danger of complications. They could need surgery to remove the item before it causes intestinal damage. 

Can My Dog Die From Eating Rocks Or Stones

If a dog eats a rock or stone that is too large or sharp, it could puncture organs, including the intestinal tract. Puncturing the intestinal tract is very serious and can lead to death.

Additionally, if your dog immediately chokes from the rock and the item is not removed from their airway, then death is imminent. This is why it’s essential to consult an animal health professional as quickly as possible. 

Can A Dog Pass A Rock

Depending on the rock or stone’s size compared to the dog’s size, a dog can pass it in their stool. However, if they don’t pass the rock, it can remain in their system for a very long time and put your furry friend at risk for serious digestive issues.

How Long Does It Take For A Dog To Pass Rocks

It takes 10-24 hours for items to pass through the digestive tract. If you and your dog are lucky, they’ll be able to pass it with minimal pain. If the rock or stone does not show up within a day or so, it is likely lodged in the dog’s digestive tract, where it can remain for a significant period. 

What Should I Do If My Dog Swallowed A Rock Or Stone?

After you make sure the dog isn’t choking, you have a couple of options. You can immediately call your vet or an emergency vet if you are concerned, mainly if the rock or stone seemed too large or sharp for your dog.

If the dog seems okay for the moment, you can keep an eye on their stool through the next 24 hours, keeping an eye on their behavior and eating habits. 

If your dog ingests a rock or stone, first ensure that the entire thing was swallowed. If the rock is stuck in the dog’s airway, you will know immediately, as your dog may gag, choke, and/or foam at the mouth. 

If the dog does not pass the rock or stone within 24 hours, take them to see the vet as soon as possible. Surgery might be required to remove it, and the longer you wait, the higher the chances for complication.

How Do I Stop My Dog From Eating Rocks

Curbing this behavior begins in puppyhood. Younger dogs will want to explore the world through every one of their senses, including taste. Obedience training, including focusing on commands like “leave it” and “drop it,” will be useful in helping younger dogs stay away from rocks, stones, and many other things we don’t want in their mouths! 

If your dog missed obedience training as a puppy, it’s never too late to enroll! But their habits may be tougher to break. If you notice your dog starting to eat rocks and stones, or anything else, they need a trip to the vet.

The doctor can assess your dog for underlying conditions that could be causing the behavior. They can also help you make sure the dog is getting proper nutrition. Finally, they can help you determine if your dog has a psychological reason for wanting to eat rocks or stones.  

You should also make sure your dog is getting a lot of exercise, love, and attention at home. Boredom or loneliness can set in quickly, particularly in young dogs, if their owners are away at work all day.

Hiring someone you trust or a pet-sitting company to visit midday and take your dog out for some fresh air could help. (Make sure to tell the pet-sitter that your dog has a rock-eating issue and the best way to handle it.)

If you’re outside with your rock-chewing dog, make sure you’re giving them the attention they need and keeping an eye on their behavior. 

One additional tactic to try as you’re working on curbing the behavior is to find a stick for your dog when you’re walking or playing outside. Some dogs like the tactile feeling of having something in their mouths, and having a stick can stop their need to eat rocks.

Eating non-food items is not something you want your dog to do. It’s a potentially harmful habit that needs to be curbed to protect their health. If it happens, keep an eye on their response and bowel habits and take them to the vet if needed.

If it continues happening, work with your vet to find the cause. There are options to help stop the behavior, and that’s what you want so that your loveable canine spends as many years with you as possible!