Dogs eat a lot of random things, from grass to your homework.
But what if your dog ate a rock?
And especially, what if your small puppy ate a rock? You would understandably be worried because rocks are extremely hard and rough.
Puppies eating rocks can cause a slew of issues, from choking to intestinal blockage, and puppies are more likely to eat rocks than adult dogs.
There are several possible reasons your puppy is eating rocks, and you can read on to find out why and how to stop it.
Why do puppies eat rocks?
For humans and animals alike, growing teeth creates a funny sensation.
The tickling sensation in their gums usually causes puppies to feel discomfort and they try to alleviate this by chewing everything in sight, including rocks.
Chewing random objects like rocks is a normal thing for puppies because they normally wouldn’t swallow it and because it’s not a sign of a deeper medical issue.
The second most common reason puppies eat rocks is simple curiosity.
Just like how babies put random objects into their mouths, puppies eat rocks as a part of their development.
They use their mouths out of boredom and curiosity, and it’s completely normal if your puppy eats rocks as a part of their developmental stage.
But there are also other reasons puppies eat rocks, which could lead to more severe problems.
Pica is a condition where dogs eat random objects that aren’t foods.
This is usually caused by poor nutrition.
Sometimes, pica can also develop when a dog is not getting the amount of attention they crave.
If your dog has pica, you should detect it as soon as possible because it can lead to more dangerous issues, such as choking and poisoning.
- Underlying medical condition
Another more serious cause of puppies eating rocks is an underlying medical condition.
As weird as it may sound, some dogs eat rocks to try to soothe their stomach ache caused by an underlying medical condition such as inflammatory bowel syndrome.
Lastly, eating rocks might also be a nervous tic your dog has come to develop whenever they feel stressed.
Why are puppies more likely to eat rocks than dogs?
Dogs tend to eat rocks regardless of their age, but puppies are more likely to do it than adult dogs.
During their teething process, puppies’ tendency to chew on random objects increases, this is why puppies are more likely to eat rocks.
Puppies will grow out of this habit if the cause is teething.
What damage could chewing or swallowing a rock do to a puppy?
While puppies chewing rocks is a common tic, that doesn’t mean it’s okay for them to do so. Swallowing rocks can lead to many health issues, including:
- Teeth breakage
Because rocks are obviously hard, chewing them can cause serious damage to your pup’s teeth. Damages can vary from fractures, breakage, to falling out altogether.
- Windpipe blockage (choking)
If the rock is sizable, it might get lodged in the throat, blocking their airway and prevent them from breathing. If you see your dog choking, perform the Heimlich maneuver straight away.
- Intestinal blockage
As painful as it would be seeing your beloved pup choke, something that can be worse than windpipe blockage is a gastrointestinal blockage.
Because at least with a windpipe blockage you can just do the Heimlich maneuver, but with a GI blockage it’s not as simple.
When a dog gets their digestive system blocked, it can induce all kinds of stomach problems from vomiting to no appetite, even death.
Treating it can also cost thousands of dollars worth of surgery + a long recovery time.
What are the signs that a puppy has eaten a rock?
There are 3 possible outcomes after a puppy eats a rock.
- The puppy digests the rock and passes it out of their digestive system
- The rock gets stuck in their stomach and gives them an upset stomach
- The rock gets stuck in their throat or gets vomited
The symptoms that your puppy has eaten a rock will differ depending on the outcome. Some of the common signs are:
- Rock particles in the feces
For the first case, the sign that your puppy has eaten a rock is finding rocks or rock particles in your dog’s feces.
If the stone is still in the stomach, it won’t cause the stomach to get upset. But as the rock passes through the intestines it can get stuck, inducing vomits.
An intestine blockage can cause a puppy to vomit 5 times a day or more. Note how many times your pup throws up and check the puke to see if they’ve thrown up the rock.
- Poor appetite
Another digestive problem that may occur from puppies eating rocks is a decrease in appetite. If your puppy refuses to eat and drink, this is for sure a sign that there’s something wrong with their digestive system, and it could be because they ate rocks.
Lack of energy can be a sign of a lot of sicknesses in dogs, but one of the most common reasons for this is a digestive issue. If your pup is lethargic after going outside, it could be because they swallowed rocks.
What should you do if your puppy has eaten a rock?
- Induce bowel movement by feeding them extra fiber
The first thing you should do after your puppy ate a rock is to get them to poo. Try mixing their regular food with canned pumpkin to add extra fiber.
Check your pup’s stool and see if it contains rocks. If it doesn’t, this is a cause of concern because it potentially means the rock is stuck in their intestines which can lead to more serious issues.
If the stool contains rocks, the stone has passed and your puppy should be fine. Just keep on watching them to see if they have signs of intestinal blockage such as lack of appetite, vomiting, upset stomach, and lethargy.
If your puppy swallowed small rocks, they’re more likely to pass through the GI system into the stool. On the other hand, bigger rocks are more likely to get lodged.
- Take them to the vet
If you did the stool check and saw no rocks, it’s best that you take your pup to the vet right away. The vet will check for gastrointestinal issues and do other tests.
Even if the rocks have passed, the safest bet is to still go to the vet because there may still be some rocks left inside. The vet will also help you with the next step.
- Determine why your puppy is eating rocks
As stated before, there are several reasons a puppy is eating rocks. The solution to this problem depends on why they’re doing it.
To determine the reason your puppy is eating rocks, you can look at their age, how long they’ve been doing it, and whether they’re in the process of teething or not. The vet can also help check whether your puppy is having any nutritional deficiency which indicates pica.
- Treat accordingly
After determining the cause, you can now work towards solving it. The method of treating this issue will differ based on the cause.
How can you stop a puppy from eating rocks?
- Obedience training
The most important way to stop a puppy from eating rocks regardless of the reason is through obedience training. This will especially be effective if your puppy eats rocks due to teething or curiosity and not from underlying more serious issues.
Teach them “drop it” or “leave it” commands and give them treats whenever they obey. Aside from snack treats, some puppies love to be given pets or verbal praise as rewards.
Use the “drop it” command when they’re already biting or chewing the rock and use the “leave it” command afterward. The “leave it” command should also be useful when you see your pup getting close to rocks.
- Give chew toy
Another simple trick to alleviate rock-eating habit is by giving your puppy a chew toy. This should work if the cause of eating rocks is boredom or curiosity. Giving them a more textured chew toy will probably be more effective because it’s more similar to rocks.
- Increase playtime
If your dog’s rock-eating habit stems from boredom or anxiety, the way to stop it is by increasing their amount of exercise and playtime. Keep your pup busy and loved so that they don’t habitually eat rocks.
- Special diet
Now if the reason your puppy eats rocks is because of nutritional deficiency or underlying medical issues, you will need a special diet for them. The vet will usually recommend you a thorough diet plan so that your pup can be the best, most energetic version of themself again.
- Special behavior training
Lastly, if your dog has pica, they will need more specialized training. Most of the time dogs with pica will need special behavioral-correction training with professionals.
Should you try and make your puppy throw up after swallowing a rock?
In short, no. Do not induce vomiting in your dog after they ate rocks. Bringing the hard, rough, rock back up can cause damage to their system. Induce them to defecate instead by giving extra fiber food.