Home » Dogs

Why Does My Puppy Eat Stones? [And How To Stop Them!]

If you’ve caught your puppy eating stones, you’ll naturally be very worried. Especially if you have caught them doing this before, or it happens often. But why would they want to do such a thing and will eating stones harm your puppy? Here’s everything you’ll need to know.

So, why does my puppy eat stones? Puppies typically eat, bite, or chew stones to get relief from teething pain. Sometimes, though, it can be a means of getting your attention, out of frustration, due to anxiety, or even a result of anger. In extreme cases, certain health problems like tumors, parasites, worms, or diabetes are other potential causes.

A lot to consider there.

And not a definitive causal reason, you’ll notice.

So, it may be a little tricky to accurately identify why your puppy is doing this right away.

It may take a little time and a little observation for you to get a better understanding of what is really going on.

You’ll need to consider the context, and your puppy’s general health, behavior, and demeanor too.

Nevertheless, while possible, and while it may be a good idea to consult a vet (especially if this behavior comes on suddenly or continues long after it started), health conditions are generally unlikely to be the reason.

But do consider it.

With this in mind, let us delve deeper into the reasons so you can better identify the cause.

We will then explore how you should respond and how you can help prevent your puppy from eating stones in the future.

So stick around.

It’s incredibly vital that you understand this behavior and proactively know how to address it!

Reasons Why Puppies Eat Stones

There are many different reasons why puppies eat stones, so let’s examine them one by one.

Exploring Their World

Puppies, like small children, are curious and want to explore their world.

They will use their mouths to lick, chew and bite on all different kinds of things to get a sense of what different objects are like.

By tasting things around them, they are better able to understand their environment.

Puppies could also be drawn to chewing on certain objects because of how they smell. Your puppy might be tempted to eat rocks that other animals have marked or that have bits of food on them.

If your puppy has started chewing on rocks as a means of exploration, it’s essential to get him to stop as soon as possible.

Habits can quickly become compulsive in puppies (see below for how to get them to stop.)

If your puppy is a high-energy dog, he is more susceptible to compulsive behavior if he doesn’t receive enough mental and physical stimulation.

As Relief From Teething Pain

Puppies all go through a teething stage, which can be quite uncomfortable or even painful.

Fortunately, teething is temporary, and the discomfort should stop when your puppy’s adult teeth come in at about six months of age.

Because Of A Medical Problem

If your puppy seems to want to eat non-edible objects frequently, he could be suffering from pica.

Pica is an eating disorder that can emerge in puppies if they suffer from a nutritional deficiency.

Other conditions such as worms may mean your puppy is trying to eat something heavy to ease his feelings of hunger.

After all, he’s got unwanted guests who may be dipping into his food supply!

Parasites can be a less common cause of rock-eating.

Too much of certain types of bacteria caused by the presence of these critters can give some puppies unusual cravings.

Strange cravings can also come from neurological diseases.

Nutritional deficiencies can also cause rock-eating: your puppy could be missing an essential mineral or vitamin, such as magnesium or calcium.

Sometimes puppies eat stones because of other problems such as diabetes or tumors.

Out Of Boredom

Many puppies will eat stones out of boredom: if they aren’t getting enough physical exercise or mental stimulation, they’ll look for something else to do.

Check your puppy’s routine: it could be he’s bored of the same toys and activities. Puppies need a constant challenge, as they’re intelligent animals.

A puppy can become bored with his toys, just like a small child.

To Relieve Anxiety Or Fear

Some puppies, especially rescue puppies, could be suffering anxiety due to a traumatizing event in their past.

Eating stones is a common way for some puppies (and older dogs) to deal with anxiety or fear.

Will Eating Stones Harm My Puppy?

Eating stones is very dangerous for puppies as well as older dogs. Your puppy could easily break his teeth on the sharp edges of a stone. Swallowing sharp rocks could pierce his digestive tract and lead to serious health problems.

There are many potential dangerous outcomes of eating stones, the most notable are:  

  • Broken teeth
  • Damaged gums
  • Perforated stomach
  • Intestinal blockages
  • Choking
  • Vomiting
  • Pain
  • Internal bleeding
  • Diarrhea

Some puppies will spit out a stone once they’re bored with it, but it isn’t worth the risk to let them engage in this behavior!

Anything your dog eats will usually take 10 to 24 hours to pass all the way through his digestive tract.

If, however, your puppy becomes lethargic after 24 hours, it could be he’s eaten a rock that has gotten stuck in his intestines.

Either way, if you know for sure your puppy has swallowed a stone, you should absolutely consult a vet – at the earliest opportunity.

But more on that in the next section – so keep reading!

What To Do If Your Puppy Has Eaten A Stone

If your puppy has eaten a stone, in most cases, you will have to bring him to the vet immediately.

If you suspect your puppy has only eaten a very small stone:

  • Keep an eye on your puppy’s activity levels. If your puppy shows any signs of distress or lethargy, take him to the vet right away.
  • If your puppy appears to be fine, check your dog’s poop to be sure he has been able to eliminate the stone.
  • Feel your puppy’s tummy to see if you can feel any more stones (you won’t be able to know for sure without an examination).

Your vet will examine your puppy and take action to remove the stone if needed. If you think your puppy has more stones in his stomach, the vet will need to take x-rays.

Your vet may have to remove not only the stones but part of your puppy’s digestive tract, too! It depends on the damage caused.

Note: Some puppies can eat stones and not show any signs of damage. One dog had eaten quite a few river stones without his family noticing. Part of his intestine had died, and he was given a 50/50 chance of surviving (fortunately, he survived after an operation).

It is also likely (and a good idea) that your vet performs a thorough examination to make sure your puppy doesn’t have an underlying health condition.

Your vet should also check if there are any nutritional deficiencies.

How Do I Stop My Puppy from Eating Stones?

There are different ways to stop your puppy from eating stones, depending on the reasons for him engaging in this behavior in the first place.

For Medical Causes

You will know if your puppy is munching on stones for medical reasons once you’ve brought him to the vet, so your vet will tell you what to do to avoid this happening in the future.

It is crucial to rule out medical causes because it could be that your puppy can’t help his behavior: if this is the case, training won’t help. Your puppy will only become frustrated.

If your puppy does have underlying medical issues, your vet will be able to recommend advice such as medication or special diets.

If your puppy has pica, you will need to call on a professional behaviorist for specialized training.

Make sure your puppy is healthy before assuming he’s eating stones for other reasons.

For Non-Medical Causes

Here’s what you can do if your puppy doesn’t have any health issues behind his behavior.

Change His Routine And Toys

If you suspect your puppy is tired of his current routine, the solution is obvious: change it.

Go to a different park, take a different route to your usual places, or invite other dogs around to play.

You can rotate his favorite toys – putting away some toys for weeks and then doing a swap can be very effective.

And do introduce a new toy from time to time.

You can have a chew toy with you for your puppy to enjoy outside as an alternative to rocks.

If you do have a puppy who tends to eat rocks, he will need your supervision at all times when he’s outdoors.

Always have an appropriate chew toy handy when you’re outside with your puppy.

And if he’s teething, you can store it in the freezer so that it’s nice and cold to soothe his teeth and gums.

Increase Exercise And Playtime

Give your puppy longer walks. Introduce new games such as tug-of-war, fetch, or other games that you can play together. Your affection and attention are highly prized by your puppy and will be much more rewarding than eating rocks!

Use Obedience Training

You can also use obedience training to get your puppy to stop eating stones. The two most important commands for this are “leave it” and “drop it.”

Taking the time to teach these commands to your puppy could save his life!

“Leave it” is helpful for anything that your puppy sniffs or paws at. “Drop it” is good for getting your puppy to drop whatever is in his mouth.

Begin teaching these commands as soon as you bring your puppy home:

  1. If you see your puppy eating stones, tell him calmly but firmly to “drop it.” Don’t yell – if you startle him, he could swallow the rocks as a means to get rid of them quickly.
  2. If you see your puppy sniffing rocks, use “leave it” instead.
  3. When your puppy has followed your command, reward him with a toy, a treat, or affection. Let your pet know immediately that he has made the right choice!

Finally

Although entirely bizarre, puppies (and some older dogs) choose to bite, chew and eat stones.

While it can be difficult to get your head around, consider it just another peculiar trait of our companions (and they have quite a few!)

Nevertheless, letting your puppy eat stones is never a good idea.

This is why it is so crucial we keep an eye on our young pups at all times.

Even then, there is always the possibility that a puppy chews, and in worst cases, swallows a stone.  

And in that particular circumstance, it’s imperative that you consult a vet.

Just to make sure.

And from there, working through some practical and effective ways to reduce this tendency altogether is sensible.

Have other questions about your puppy’s eating? Well, my following guides may be of help: