Q: My dog chews rocks that he finds in the garden. Is there a reason why I should be worried?
A: Yes, you should be worried, as this a very dangerous habit that can potentially lead to the death of your dog. There are a few reasons why your dog eats or chews something that is not food. A deficiency of a specific nutrient is often to blame, but it can also be an obsessive compulsive disorder, or due to curiosity or boredom. Watch your dog and see if you can pick up any signs. Is he bored, with nothing to do? Distract your dog and see if the behaviour continuous.
To know if your dog is chewing rocks, look out for broken teeth, constipation and/or vomiting. Rocks can cause an obstruction in the intestinal tract, which can lead to damage to the intestines and bleeding, or tearing of the intestinal wall. This can lead to infection of the abdomen and subsequently the death of the animal. Broken teeth and damage to the gums due to chewing rocks can cause severe pain and lead to tooth root infection.
Take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible if you suspect that a rock is causing an obstruction in your dog. Your veterinarian will then perform x-rays or an ultrasound to determine if there is an obstruction. If there is an obstruction, the vet will need to operate to remove the rock surgically.
To stop your dog from chewing rocks, you need to ensure that you feed him a balanced diet. If it is a behavioural problem, a vet or an animal behaviourist can help you to change this behaviour.
Dr Maril Grewar, veterinarian