Will Puppies Eat Rocks?

Puppies are a lot like babies in that they love to put just about anything in their mouths. It’s one of the ways both species discover things about their world and environment. Of course, while some things are OK to nibble at, lick, or even chew, others are not. One excellent example is electric wires and cables attached to electronic devices. 

Protecting your puppy from things they shouldn’t eat is one of your most important jobs as a puppy parent. For many, that means removing things around the house that are dangerous for puppies, like certain plants. It also means being vigilant when your puppy is outside so they won’t have the opportunity to put foreign objects of all kinds in their mouth. 

Again, puppies will put practically anything in their mouth to inspect it, chew it, taste it and discover what the heck it is. Dead birds, discarded candy, garbage that’s been left outside by a careless neighbor, etc., etc. If you’re not watching them like a hawk, you can rest assured your curious puppy pal will give it a good once-over in their jaws. 

I was helping a friend with her new puppy the other day, watching as it sniffed every little thing (and licked everything else), which got me thinking about one of the things puppies like to eat that, for many, is really confusing; rocks. A reader the other day asked me the very question, to whit; “Will puppies eat rocks?” 

The answer is that, given the chance, yes, your puppy will eat rocks. They eat them for various reasons, from boredom to nutritional deficiencies and undiagnosed medical disorders. Puppies will also chew on rocks to ease their teething pain, just like a baby would with a teething ring. (Rocks in a cool, shaded garden are a big attraction for teething puppies.)

The problem, of course, is that eating rocks is very unhealthy for puppies and dogs alike. Rocks present a significant choking hazard and, if swallowed successfully, can cause dangerous intestinal blockages in your puppy’s belly. Some puppies have even experienced perforated stomachs due to eating rocks, which can be deadly if not caught in time. 

Now that you know that yes, your puppy will eat rocks, I’m sure you have other questions about this strange insistence they have on devouring these inedible objects. When will your puppy outgrow eating rocks, for example, and what methods can you use to stop them from eating rocks? For the answers to those questions and several others, please read on. I’ve got them for you below, vital information that will help you prevent your puppy from getting into a rocky situation.

Why Do Puppies Eat Rocks and Dirt?

As I mentioned in the introduction, there are various reasons why puppies eat rocks. Some of them are innocuous, but others may be a sign that your puppy is suffering from a medical, psychological, or behavioral problem of some type. The reasons why a puppy will eat rocks and other hard, non-edible objects, include:

Boredom

A bored puppy, like a child, will do almost anything to break the boredom. If there are rocks in the vicinity and not much else to play with, your puppy might grab them and play with them. Typically, though, they won’t eat the rocks, although they may swallow them accidentally. For smaller puppies, rocks could cause a choking hazard, so supervision while they are outside, is a must.

Lack of Physical Activity

Similar to boredom, if a puppy isn’t getting enough physical activity, they will seek it out in one form or another. If there are rocks handy, they will use them to play with, throw around, and so forth. Like boredom, most puppies putting rocks in their mouths for physical activity won’t eat them. The risk of choking, however, is still high.

Relief from Teething Pain

Rocks taken directly from cool soil can be a pain-relieving solution for a puppy suffering from teething pain. Indeed, it’s one of the most common reasons puppies put rocks in their mouth. 

As with boredom and physical activity, it’s rare for a puppy to eat rocks that they have used for teething pain relief. However, any time a puppy puts a rock (or several of them) in their mouths, the risk of choking increases dramatically.

Curiosity

Puppies, like human babies, are curious creatures that constantly explorer their surroundings. Like babies, part of satiating a puppy’s curiosity involves putting things in their mouth or, in their case, muzzle. If part of their surroundings includes rocks, you can be sure that they will sniff them, put them in their mouth and lick on them (although not necessarily in that order).  

To Get Attention

A puppy that feels as if it’s being ignored will do many things to get attention, including grabbing rocks and tossing them around with its muzzle.  The cure for this attention-seeking behavior is simple; more attention and playtime. 

Diabetes, Parasites, Worms, and Tumors

Although rare, some puppies will eat rocks due to undiagnosed medical problems, including worms, tumors, diabetes, and parasites. If you find that your puppy eats rocks obsessively, a trip to your local veterinarian is a good idea.  They can test your puppy and rule out any of the above health problems or diagnose and treat them if needed.

Pica 

Pica is a rare eating disorder that usually occurs when a puppy suffers from some type of nutritional deficiency. To meet their need for a particular vitamin, mineral, or combination of the two, they eat certain rocks that contain them. 

Is it Dangerous if my Puppy Eats a Rock?

Yes, eating rocks is dangerous for your puppy and adult dogs also. Rocks present several health risks, actually, some of which can severely harm your precious puppy. They include:

  • Severe intestinal blockage is that, if not treated quickly, can lead to death.
  • Perforated stomachs, which can also be deadly.
  • Choking is especially common in puppies as they have smaller muzzles and esophagi. 
  • Tooth damage. A puppy’s teeth are still soft and more fragile. Rocks can easily damage them if they bite down too hard. Plus, rocks can irritate their delicate gums.

Do Puppies Outgrow Eating Rocks? 

Yes, in most cases, and with gentle but firm guidance, most puppies will outgrow eating rocks. Typically, this occurs between 6 months and a year, but it can vary significantly between dog breeds and individual dogs. 

Puppies that don’t stop eating rocks should be checked thoroughly to ensure that there isn’t an underlying problem causing their rock-eating habits. As I mentioned earlier, rock-eating can be caused by tumors, pica, worms, diabetes, and other underlying medical issues. It’s imperative you have your puppy checked for those health issues if they continue to seek out and eat rocks.

How to Stop Your Puppy from Eating Rocks?

There is no one particular method that you can use to prevent a puppy from eating rocks. Several are needed (at the same time) to get successful results, including;

  • Make sure your puppy’s diet contains all the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they need to be healthy.
  • Remove any accessible rocks from your puppy’s living area(s). If they go in the yard, remove rocks there, also, if possible.
  • Ensure your puppy gets plenty of exercise. An exhausted puppy won’t want to play with rocks or, for that matter, anything else. Plus, they won’t turn to disobedience, including eating rocks, to get your attention.
  • Give your puppy plenty of toys to keep them busy and happy. 
  • Use a deterrent spray on rocks that prevent your puppy from eating them with a foul taste and odor.

Final Thoughts

Yes, puppies will occasionally eat rocks. They do so for several reasons, most of them having to do with boredom or a lack of activity. Occasionally, a puppy will eat rocks and other inedible objects due to a lack of minerals or vitamins or an underlying health problem. They will also chew rocks to relieve their teething pain. Eating rocks are hazardous and unhealthy for puppies and, for that reason, the habit should be prevented and discouraged.

Did today’s blog answer your questions about puppies eating rocks? I hope it did and gave you some useable advice, too. Please see my other blogs on the subject if you need more advice or have more questions. They’re loaded with real-world info that can help you be a better puppy parent!