Rock Eating – Not a Healthy Diet



I am worried that my inside Chihuahuas and my Pug/Pekingese dogs eat rocks and if the rocks will hurt them? How can I stop them from eating the rocks?

Dr. Nichol:

I worry about anybody who eats rocks. Rather than a You Tube challenge to boost their middle school cred (cq) or a display of inner toughness, your dogs are actually trying to feel better. But the risk of a bowel obstruction is serious business. I’ve removed rocks, toys, and other swallowed junk by endoscope and by surgery. We treat these as emergencies. Without speedy intervention the resulting loss of blood supply to the intestinal wall leads to tissue breakdown, leakage of bacteria and even death from septic peritonitis. Basket muzzles for your pupsters are in order starting today but they would only be a short-term solution.

Preventing internal blockage is mighty important but your dogs will feel a lot better if the underlying cause of their dietary indiscretions are addressed. Back in the day, consumption of non-food items, called pica, was considered a behavior problem. But recent research has shown that most junk-eating dogs and those who lick excessively – including air lickers – suffer from chronic nausea. The stomach and intestinal disorders responsible for this misery almost always respond to treatment.

To start the search for all possibilities your dogs need thorough physical exams and blood profiles. Abdominal x-rays and ultrasound can reveal indicators of inflammatory disease. Endoscopic biopsies are often essential to identify the specific problem. The right medications and special diets can make a big difference.

Behavioral issues are the last consideration because they are the least likely. Don’t bother trying random remedies. And forget turning off the Internet; you and I may be nauseated by the current spectacle of juvenile political mud-slinging but our dogs couldn’t care less. Maybe we should be more like them.


I’ll answer pet behavior questions at the K9 Resort (4740 Pan American Fwy NE in Albuquerque) next Saturday, September 23 from 9-10 AM. Drop by and exhaust my brain for no charge.


For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website,

Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom ( Each week he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at Email pet behavior or physical questions to or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.