Canine Behaviour: Does your dog eat everything?

Karen Wild column EMN-140228-152551001
Karen Wild column EMN-140228-152551001
Share this article

We are all used to the comical images of a dog hot-footing it away with a string of sausages in his mouth, but what happens if your dog seems to have an insatiable appetite for everything, including the most unspeakable items you can imagine?

Dogs are natural scavengers. It is one of the reasons they are happy to live alongside us, as it is much easier to eat our scraps (or gourmet dog food, in these modern times) rather than hunt. Nevertheless this does not mean they simply stop eating when their appetite dictates they are full.

In fact, your Vet can no doubt report many incidences where they have needed to remove items from dogs internal workings. Eating non-food items is known as Pica, and eating excrement is known as Coprophagia. Why, when food is freely available, do dogs still do this?

Puppies will often eat items as part of exploring their environment, rather like young children will put things in their mouths. With mild discouragement and a tidy floor, this should pass afterabout 10 months of age.

Older dogs may gulp things down, fearing punishment, so go easy. Teach your greedy pooch to bring things to you, and swap items for a tastier treat, without getting upset. The more stressed you are, the more he will fear his prize being taken away from him!

A true scavenger can risk their own health, so if your dog is particularly keen on walks, consider a cage muzzle to prevent him eating possible harmful items.

It sounds revolting, but dogs eat poo, sometimes their own, possibly because it is poorly digested or still smells like food! Get a Vet to check him over to make sure he is getting the nutrients he needs in his everyday diet.