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Why does my dog eat everything off the ground?

From toys and grass to feces and roadkill...some dogs will eat anything. If your dog eats things it shouldn't there may be a good reason to be concerned. Today, our Tigard vets look at why some dogs keep eating everything and tips on how to stop this problematic behavior.

Why won't my dog stop eating?

If you have a dog who eats everything, know you're not alone. While many pet parents find this behavior repulsive, it is a normal scavenging behavior in our canine companions. Puppies especially enjoy eating things they come across, such as leaves, trash, stones, and dead animals.

What Dogs Eat & Why

Pica is the term used for eating non-edible items by both humans and animals. Pica dogs have an almost compulsive desire to eat indigestible objects such as rocks, dirt, and sticks. It is thought that animals with pica may be deficient in essential minerals or other nutrients. Consult your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog's desire to eat inedible objects is a sign of pica.

Below are some of the most common substances that our four-legged friend loves to eat:


Dogs will frequently nibble on grass, though some dogs prefer it more than others. Eating grass is generally considered safe as long as it is not heavily coated in chemicals and your dog is otherwise healthy.

Dogs eat grass for a variety of reasons, including increasing fiber in their digestive tract, reducing boredom, and simply enjoying it. If your dog is eating an unusually large amount of grass, talk to your vet about how to stop it.


Puppy dirt eating is a common behavior. It is unknown why dogs prefer to eat dirt, but it is widely assumed that it is due in part to the various scents emitted by different areas, such as a field, forest floor, or your mulch pile. Eating dirt may improve puppies' understanding of their surroundings. If your dog develops a strange taste of dirt, there is probably nothing to worry about.

However, eating a lot of dirt can be dangerous because it can clog your dog's digestive tract. If your dog enjoys eating dirt, talk to your vet about what's causing the behavior and what you can do to stop it.


Many dogs enjoy playing with and eating rocks, which can be dangerous to their health. Chewing rocks can cause tooth and gum damage, and choking is a serious hazard. If your puppy is teething, try providing him with a variety of fun chew toys.

If your adult dog is obsessed with eating rocks, take him to the veterinarian. Rock eating could indicate boredom, anxiety, or a desire for attention. Your veterinarian will be able to help you determine the cause of your dog's behavior and recommend ways to reduce your dog's desire for stones.


Pet owners frequently contact us when they are at their wits end with their dog's disgusting poop eating behavior. Why does my dog keep eating poop?! Poop eating is so common that it is referred to as 'coprophagia' (kop-ruh-fey-jee-uh), and it may be caused by a combination of behavioral, genetic, and psychological factors.

Dogs are generally considered safe to eat their 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.

According to one theory, poop eating is part of your dog's innate scavenging tendencies, which evolved as a survival tool for times when food is scarce. After all, a dog can't afford to be picky when there's no food to be found.

Some physical reasons that dogs may eat poop include:

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

Other factors that can lead to poop eating in dogs:

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

What are some signs my dog has overeaten?

Some signs that your dog has overeaten include vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, and lethargy. It is important to monitor their food intake and consult with a veterinarian if you notice any concerning symptoms. 

Ways to Curb Your Dog's Unusual Eating Habits

Regardless of what your pooch enjoys munching on, there are a few things you can do to try and curb the habit:

  • Clean your backyard frequently to remove any rocks, poops, or other items. If it isn't there, your pup can't eat it.
  • Teach your dog to 'drop it' and 'leave it' on command. Essential know-how for every dog.
  • Increase your pup's exercise and enrichment throughout the day. A tired and busy dog is less likely to nibble on things they shouldn't.
  • Take your dog to the vet for a full examination to look for signs of illness or to discuss solutions to behavioral issues such as anxiety.

Your veterinarian can check your dog from head to tail for signs of illness, discuss the causes of your dog's unusual eating habits, and advise you on your pet's nutritional and caloric needs based on 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.

Has your dog eaten something they shouldn't have? Contact Cascade Veterinary Referral Center today for emergency care.

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