Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Help, my dog eats everything!

Many dog owners deal with the perplexing habit of furry friends eating anything and everything they can find. From seemingly harmless grass to more concerning items like poop and dead animals, it’s a behavior that can be both puzzling and concerning. In this blog post, our vets will discuss why dogs, particularly puppies, exhibit this tendency and offer advice on managing and preventing it. 

Why do dogs eat everything off the ground?

If you’ve ever found yourself exclaiming, “My dog eats everything!” you’re not alone. Our vets in Lebanon have compiled detailed information on why dogs exhibit this behavior and when you should be concerned. Here are the common reasons:

Curiosity and Exploration

Puppies are naturally curious and explore the world with their mouths. This behavior resembles how human babies learn by touching and tasting everything. As puppies grow, they might continue this habit, sometimes leading to eating things they shouldn’t.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Sometimes, dogs eat unusual items because of nutritional deficiencies. If a dog’s diet lacks certain nutrients, they might try to compensate by eating non-food items. Ensuring a balanced diet is crucial for preventing this behavior.

Boredom and Anxiety

Dogs often eat everything off the ground when they’re bored or anxious. Chewing and eating can be soothing activities for them. Providing plenty of mental and physical stimulation can help reduce this behavior.

Medical Issues

Certain medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal problems or parasites, can cause dogs to eat inappropriate things. If you notice a sudden change in your dog’s eating habits, it’s important to consult a veterinarian.

Learned Behavior

Dogs may learn this behavior from other dogs or get positive attention when eating something unusual. Reinforcing good behavior and discouraging bad habits is key.

If it's not food, why do they eat it?


It’s not uncommon for dogs to munch on grass. Some theories suggest they do this to induce vomiting or to aid digestion. Generally, it’s not harmful unless the grass has been treated with pesticides.

Poop (Coprophagia)

Eating poop, known as coprophagia, can be alarming. It’s more common in puppies but can occur in adult dogs, too. This behavior might stem from nutritional deficiencies, a desire to keep their environment clean, or simply as a learned behavior.

Dead Animals

Dogs are natural scavengers, and their instinct might drive them to eat dead animals. This can be dangerous due to the risk of disease and parasites. If your dog has a habit of this, keeping them on a leash in areas where they might find carcasses is crucial.

What should I do?

While training may be a solution, there are ways to curb the behavior yourself.

  • If your dog is bored, try to find more time to spend with them and include fun, interactive toys.
  • Always remove any dangerous objects from reach if they don't respond to training.
  • Do not give your dog attention if they're misbehaving, as it can reinforce the behavior.
  • You can spray the items your dog typically tries to eat with a dog-repellent spray. You'll need to be sure that it's non-toxic and intended for this purpose
  • If constant chewing or eating non-foods is caused by stress or anxiety, your vet may recommend medication if nothing else works.
  • If the behavior happens on walks, you may want to use a muzzle to restrict them from eating whatever they come across.

When to Be Concerned

While some odd eating behaviors can be relatively harmless, others can indicate serious issues or lead to health problems.

Here are signs that you would need to bring them to the vet:

  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Lethargy or signs of pain
  • Blood in stool or vomit
  • Excessive drooling or difficulty swallowing
  • Sudden changes in appetite or weight loss
If your dog eats something potentially toxic, contact a vet immediately.

Signs and Symptoms of Overeating

If people overeat, they may experience bloating, built-up gas, or discomfort until it resolves itself with little damage done.

On the other hand, dogs can experience a condition known as canine bloat if they eat too much or too quickly. This can lead to a build-up of gases and a twisting of the dog's stomach, which can lead to death for many dogs within hours.

If you notice any of the following symptoms in your dog, you should bring them to the vet or emergency clinic immediately:

  • Pacing or whining
  • Shallow breathing
  • Anxiety
  • The stomach appears distended or enlarged
  • Inability to get comfortable
  • Won't lie on their side
  • Unable to defecate
  • Change in the color of their gums (dark red, blue, white, and cold)
  • Trying to lick the air

How to Prevent Canine Bloat

  • Feed smaller, more frequent meals
  • Use a slow feeder bowl to restrict quick feedings
  • Always separate your dogs at feeding time if you have more than one

It's not unusual to feel frustrated when your dog eats everything. However, understanding the reasons behind this behavior can help you address it effectively. Being proactive and attentive to your dog's habits can ensure their safety and well-being, whether it's due to curiosity, nutritional needs, or medical issues. If you're ever in doubt, don't hesitate to consult your veterinarian for guidance.

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.

To learn more about eating disorders or behavioral reasons for eating objects, contact our Lebanon vets to book an appointment today.

New Patients Welcome

Cumberland Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Lebanon companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Book Online (615) 444-1232