You have loved your dog for a long time. Your dog has always been well-behaved since outgrowing chewing as a puppy until recently, so why is my dog eating everything all of a sudden while I am gone? What could have made him start this odd behavior?
There are several reasons a dog may suddenly start eating everything, including health problems, boredom, seeking attention, stress, or anxiety, among others. It is called pica and is more common than you might think. How can you determine what is causing it and how to resolve it?
If your dog suddenly starts eating everything, it is scary, especially if you do not know why it is happening. With so many different things that can cause it, how do you figure out the specific cause for your dog? To learn more, read below for more answers on pica.
How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Pica?
Jennifer Adkins from Dog Training by Jennifer of San Antonio, Texas, suggests that the first thing you should do is schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to make sure it is not health-related, causing the sudden changes.
Adkins suggested that after ruling out physical illnesses, reach out to an animal behaviorist and ask for a free consultation to see if they can help stop the destructive behavior. Adkins, a dog trainer, said that a dog trainer is probably insufficient in cases like this.
Unfortunately, animal behaviorists typically charge a lot more than a trainer but can better help your dog cope with whatever is causing the changes in his behavior.
Some specific common illnesses that sometimes cause pica include dietary deficiencies and oesophageal dysphagia. If your pet’s vet can rule these outs, he may want to check for gastrointestinal problems, diabetes mellitus, anemia, and pancreatic insufficiencies.
Once ruling out these conditions, you may want to think about scheduling an appointment with the animal behavioralist.
Things to Watch for if Your Dog Keeps Eating Non-Food Items
If your dog continues to eat non-food items, you will need to monitor him for signs symptoms that might mean your dog has eaten something to harm himself:
- Bad Breath
- Straining or inability to defecate
- Black, tarry stools
- Abdominal pain
- Gastrointestinal blockage
- Sneezing or Coughing
If your dog shows signs of any of the things on this list, he should see a veterinarian.
Why Is My Dog Eating Everything In Sight?
Why is my dog eating everything all of a sudden? If your dog does not have any physical illness causing his pica, you will need to explore other reasons such as boredom, seeking attention, stress, and anxiety.
Have there been any recent changes at home? Have you recently moved? A new environment could have brought on stress for your dog.
Has your schedule changed? If your dog is home alone more, he may be missing you and getting bored. Answers to these questions and others may help you figure out what caused the changes in his behavior.
When dogs are bored or are not getting enough exercise and mental challenges for long periods often cause dogs to sometimes start eating or chewing on things they might never mess with in the past.
They can start acting out, mainly if they have been used to having plenty of playtime and activity in the past. Perhaps you used to take them walking every day, and something has happened to prevent this.
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Looking for Attention
Sometimes, a dog will start activities like eating things they shouldn’t seek attention, even if it is bad. Unfortunately, depending on how you respond to their new behavior, you might even reinforce it. They may prefer a scolding over being ignored because you are too busy or tired.
Stress and Anxiety
Sometimes dogs, just like humans, can react to feeling stressed. Sometimes dogs will begin having compulsive behavior of some kind, such as eating everything in sight. Maybe they are hearing someone fighting or yelling. It might not even be from your house, but the noise could be coming from the neighbors or even fireworks during festive seasons.
Although, other factors can also play into an animal’s stress and anxiousness. They may be referring back to when they were a puppy. Were they a chewer as a puppy? Did it help to keep a supply of toys and chews for them to eat and chew up? Having a variety of toys to play with unique sounds can help ward off boredom.
You might try a puzzle toy with treats to counter his boredom or lack of activity. They have several levels of toys, starting with a beginner if he has never had a puzzle toy before. As he figures them out, you can get harder ones to keep him challenged.
Dogs sometimes start getting separation anxiety. It may be the ailments that come with aging that make them afraid to be away from you. Chewing may calm them down. Spend more time with your pet if possible. Switch up your routine before leaving your dog, so he isn’t anticipating your departure and getting anxious.
Doggy Day Care
Is there a possibility your pet could spend the day at doggy daycare while you are at work? If you cannot send them to daycare, could you have someone take them for a walk or play with them for a half-hour or so while you are at work to break up the loneliness and boredom of the day?
You may also like to explore bringing your pet to work if possible.
Sometimes older dogs will suddenly start chewing and eating stuff they have never touched. Although there can be many reasons for this, one issue is sometimes their teeth hurting them. Just as a puppy teething chews, an aging dog whose teeth are bothering them will start chewing too.
Try keeping plenty of dog toys around for them to chew on while you are gone. It will help if you keep essential things out of their reach that you cannot replace if they chew them.
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Treating your dog for pica will depend on why he has it. If it is from some medical condition, you will need your veterinarian to help treat him. If it is a psychological condition, you may see much quicker results by seeking an animal behavioralist. Listen carefully to their advice, and you should see your pet improving.
Depending on the severity, it may take a little time to find a solution and help him. In the meantime, he may require alternate changes to protect him while assisting him in stopping eating non-food items.