If you have a dog that is eating rocks, man do I feel for you.
I had a dog that ate rocks for years and it created a slew of health problems.
My dog didn’t chew rocks, instead, he would swallow them whole and he did it for years despite anything we did.
Thankfully, most dogs usually eat rocks once or twice and then they move on to something else but if you have a dog that hasn’t moved on from eating rocks, keep reading.
Why Do Dogs Eat Rocks?
Dogs are weird and they eat weird things.
They eat things like socks, corn cobs, rocks, poop and tons of other gross things.
Many dogs and puppies will eat rocks just because they’re curious because puppies tend to explore new surroundings with their mouth.
Sometimes a dog or puppy can be attracted to a group of rocks because they pick up a certain scent like the scent of another animal
Besides curiosity, the veterinary experts say that most dogs eat rocks due to behavioral issues, medical issues or psychological issues.
But eating rock eating isn’t like dogs eating grass, not even close.
Medical issues that can cause a dog to eat rocks
- Anemia (low RBC count)
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Gastrointestinal problems like Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Lack of nutrition or poor diet
Behavioral issues that can cause rock-eating
After several years of eating rocks, several tests, several consults and 1 major surgery to remove over 30 rocks from Leroy’s stomach, it was finally determined that he had IBD.
After we began treating his IBD symptoms, he stopped eating rocks.
But I had to do a lot of advocating for him in order to get that diagnosis because a lot of veterinarians that we saw dismissed it as behavioral.
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Rocks
If you just watched your dog pick up a rock and swallow it, it’s best to reach out to your veterinarian for guidance.
Depending on the size of the rock, most vets will probably advise dog owners to monitor their dogs to make sure that the rock passes.
If your dog keeps chewing or swallowing rocks, you should definitely talk to your veterinarian to rule out any medical issues.
In the meantime, don’t allow your dog access to rocks and make sure they are always supervised when outside.
For more detailed steps on how to stop your dog from eating rocks, read this post HERE.
You might need to advocate for your dog here and always go with your gut.
If you think that something else is going on with your dog, relay that to your vet.
If your dog is eating other inedible objects like batteries, clothes, toys and socks, tell your vet.
Then and Now
How Long Does It Take a Dog To Pass Rocks?
Most things like rocks that enter a dog’s body through their mouth take about 10-24 hours to pass through their digestive system.
But if your dog starts to vomit or becomes lethargic, they should be taken to the emergency clinic.
Not all rocks will pass and the longer it stays in the dog’s intestines, the more damage they can do.
If a rock is small compared to the dog, it will normally pass through the dog’s digestive system without harm.
When Leroy ate multiple rocks at one time, he vomited 1/2 of them and the rest had to be surgically removed because they were too heavy to pass.
It’s not advised to make a dog vomit up rocks because it can cause them to choke or it can injure their throat.
A dog also isn’t going to digest a stone so if you know it went but hasn’t come out, that’s a problem.
Puppies That Eat Rocks
I get so many people that reach out to me because their puppy ate a rock and it made them think of Leroy.
Not every dog or puppy that eats a rock is going to end up like Leroy.
Most puppies do it out of curiosity and quickly grow out of it without any issues.
Surprisingly, Leroy didn’t eat rocks when he was a puppy but he did eat other things that he shouldn’t!
If your puppy is curious about rocks the best thing to do is block off the area so that they can’t get to rocks or make sure to always monitor them when they’re outside until they grow out of the habit.
When Leroy was eating rocks, we did remove every single rock from the yard BUT he dug up the foundation around the house and found rocks.
He had a definite problem.
Risks Of Dogs Eating Rocks
If left untreated or not managed, there are some pretty major risks that dogs can face if they continue to eat rocks:
If your dog swallows a big rock or multiple rocks, it can cause a blockage in the intestines and the rock or rocks will need to be surgically removed.
Common signs of intestinal blockage in a dog are
- straining to defecate
- painful abdomen
The cost of surgery to remove a rock from a dog will vary from vet to vet.
Leroy’s surgery was about $2,000
Perforated stomach or colon
If your dog swallows a rock with sharp edges or if the rock is not removed from the stomach it can cause a perforation in the stomach or in the intestines.
If your dog isn’t eating, drooling a lot, eating grass, vomiting, coughing or has diarrhea after eating a rock, they should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
If a dog is chewing on rocks it can cause many dental issues including broken teeth and wounds in the mouth.
A broken tooth will need to be repaired or removed.
Let’s Get Personal
Not every dog that eats a rock will have major issues but………
If you have a dog that repeatedly eats rocks or foreign objects, it’s serious.
It might not seem like it now because your dog is fine but it’s worth getting to the bottom of it and/or stopping it no matter what needs to be done.
It’s slowly destroying your dog.
Your dog could wind up like Leroy.
For those that have been with us since the beginning, you’ve followed the rock stories.
You know the anguish it caused.
You laughed and you cried with us.
And no matter what I write I just can’t seem to get it to come out the way I want it to, but what really sparked this post was seeing comments like this around:
“Lol. My dog eats rocks all the time and he’s never had any issues.”
“My dog ate rocks and had to have them removed and now he’s fine.”
Well to people like this let me tell you:
My dog isn’t fine after eating rocks.
My dog ate rocks on and off for about 4 years.
One day he ate too many and had to have surgery to remove them.
After that, it was all downhill.
Diarrhea, vomiting, invasive tests. vet appointment after vet appointment, 20 pounds in retained fluid, which finally led to about a week stay in the ICU hooked up to monitors and IV’s more invasive tests, extreme weight loss and muscle atrophy, steroids and various injections.
He survived but has to be on a costly prescription diet, long-term steroid treatments to keep the inflammation down, monthly rechecks and an owner who is just waiting for a relapse.
I can’t even tell you the cost of this over the years but I can assure you it goes well over $10,000.
We exhausted our funds just as things got serious and had to ask for help.
The mental anguish alone is indescribable.
Please take it seriously and even though it sounds harsh, don’t give your dog the benefit of the doubt.
And for veterinarians, I would love to eventually see more studies on dogs with Pica.
Maybe they exist now and I just can’t find them.
Maybe it’s something to think about if they don’t.
It would be great to have a plan in place for dogs like this other than to break the habit, because for some dogs, maybe it can’t be broken because we need to fix something else first.
If you’re wondering about Leroy’s current health status you can check out our latest post written on 2/18/2018. As you’ll see in that post, we still battle the effects of him eating rocks.
Another update. As of 06/2018 Leroy is currently battling another IBD flare-up. He’s not good and we thought we were going to lose him a few days ago. You can read about his latest battles here.
Leroy passed away on 01/30/2020 at 11 1/2 years old.