As omnivores, dogs enjoy eating a variety of different things, from meats to veggies, but a non-food item like concrete shouldn't be one of them. This rock-hard substance is found everywhere, from roads and sidewalks to the walls of your home, so avoiding it probably isn't an option for Fido. Teach your pooch to leave this non-edible substance alone to prevent him from suffering the potentially fatal consequences of ingesting it.
Your dog can wind up with a variety of health issues if he eats concrete. These issues include damage to his teeth, damage to his intestines, a potentially fatal intestinal blockage or even poisoning from the substances used to make concrete. If your pup can't naturally pass the concrete pieces through his intestines, you need to bring him to the vet to have them surgically removed. Left unchecked, eating non-edible items like concrete, a condition known as pica, may eventually cost your dog his life.
Visiting the Vet
Even if your dog doesn't show any signs of gastrointestinal upset after eating concrete, get him to the vet right away. She can check for signs of any intestinal obstructions. The vet can also give him a thorough examination to see if a medical condition or a nutritional deficiency could be the cause of his pica. Keep in mind that concrete contains various minerals like calcium and iron. If these ingredients are missing from your pup's diet, it could explain why he's eating concrete. Medical conditions like thyroid disease, diabetes and anemia could also be causing him to eat non-food items like concrete. Treatment of any such diseases or a balanced diet should remedy this condition.
Adjusting the Environment
Remove any loose pieces of concrete or rocks in your backyard and repair any broken concrete so your pup won't be tempted to gnaw on its jagged edges. Spray the repaired concrete with a bitter deterrent to further discourage him from eating it. Keep him on a leash at all times too so you can control him around concrete and don't leave him unattended outside. Muzzle your dog when walking him to prevent him from eating any pieces of concrete.
Teach your dog commands like "Leave-it" and "Drop-it" so you can get him to leave any concrete pieces he might find alone or spit them out on cue. If Fido picks up a piece of concrete to eat, startle him with a loud sound by clapping your hands or shaking an empty can filled with coins. Once distracted, offer him a chew toy or a puzzle toy to engage his attention. Each time he reaches for something acceptable to chew on, like a toy, praise him and give him lots of delicious treats to positively reinforce his choice.
Feed your concrete-eating pup twice a day, dividing his daily portion into two smaller meals. This will help keep him feeling full if hunger is the reason he's gnawing on concrete. Select foods for him that follows the nutritional recommendations of the Association of American Feed Control Officials. Such food provides a dog with all of the vitamins and minerals he needs.
- The Humane Society of the United States: Pica: Why Pets Sometimes Eat Strange Objects
- University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: What is Concrete?
- Portland Cement Association: How Portland Cement is Made
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Pica (Eating Things That Aren't Food)
- petMD: Ingestion of Feces and Foreign Objects in Dogs
- Cesar's Way: Ask the Vet: Rock-eating “Pica” Pup
- Dumb Friends League: Unusual Eating Habits In Dogs And Cats
- Sacramento SPCA: When Your Dog Eats Weird Stuff
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Selecting Nutritious Pet Food
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Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.