If your dog has eaten stones or rocks, there are some symptoms for which to watch, such as vomiting, abdominal pain, or diarrhea, that may indicate your pup needs veterinary attention. Sometimes, eating a rock is a one-time occurrence, but if it becomes a habit, it can be very harmful to your dog. Determine why he is eating rocks and teach him to stop in order to avoid any ongoing problems.
Dog eating rocks symptoms
If your dog has eaten stones that are extremely small, they may pass through her system without a problem. However, larger rocks in a dog's stomach or too many small ones can cause serious complications, so be sure to watch for symptoms of a foreign object being trapped in her system. In addition to blocking the intestine, ingested rocks can perforate the stomach or cause your dog to choke.
Some symptoms for which to watch include vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, a painful abdomen, loss of appetite, and lethargy. Also, watch for any other behavioral changes that may indicate your dog is in pain or not feeling well. If you notice any of these symptoms or if you know she ate a rock, be sure to call your veterinarian or take your dog to the clinic right away.
Diagnosis and treatment options
When you take your dog to the vet clinic, your vet will likely perform a physical exam and take X-rays to confirm the rock was ingested and to determine where in the system it is located. In some cases, the vet may also take blood to check for infections and other conditions that may be causing symptoms.
Treatment depends on the size and location of the rock. If it is in the stomach, your vet may induce vomiting. Alternatively, she may attempt to pull it out through the throat using an endoscope. This will require your dog to be sedated. If the rock has moved into the intestines, the most likely treatment is surgical removal.
Prevent dogs from eating rocks
If eating rocks is something your dog does on a regular basis, it is important for his health and your wallet that you determine and correct the cause of the problem. Rocks can not only damage your dog's digestive system, leading to expensive surgeries, but they can also damage his teeth, and he may even choke if the rock is big enough.
Pica is an eating disorder in dogs that may cause them to eat rocks. It is often caused by an underlying condition, such as a nutritional deficiency, diabetes, or parasites. Your vet can help determine the cause and offer treatment.
In other cases, eating rocks may be a behavioral problem caused by teething or boredom. Teething puppies may grow out of the habit but take steps to offer safe toys and create a safe space for your puppy. If boredom is the issue, make sure your dog is getting enough exercise and mental stimulation. Training commands such as "leave it" and "drop it" are not only useful for stopping the behavior but the training process will also help stimulate your dog and reduce boredom.
Create a pet-safe garden
Training and treating medical conditions can go a long way toward stopping rock-eating behavior, but it is still important to make sure your pup has a safe place to play. Consider putting up a fence to keep your dog away from any rocky areas or replace the rocks with a ground cover or pet-safe mulch, such as shredded pine.
In addition, check that the plants in your garden are safe for dogs in case your pup decides to chew on plants when rocks are no longer an option. Avoid toxic plants, such as tulips, azalea, oleander, and daffodils.