German Shepherd lying on stones

Dogs may chew stones out of boredom or anxiety.

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My dog ate stones

By Dr Hester Mulhall MA, VetMB, MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

It may look harmless if your dog is eating or chewing stones, but actually it can be pretty risky.

Although it might not appeal to us humans, it is surprisingly common for dogs to chew or even eat stones. This can actually be very risky, and lead to intestinal blockages and emergency surgery. If your dog has eaten a stone, or anything else they shouldn’t have, contact a vet practice straight away.

Why is my dog eating stones or gravel, and how do I stop them?

If your dog has recently started eating or chewing on stones, this could mean that they are in pain or have an underlying medical cause. But usually it is a behavioural issue. If your dog is swallowing stones, this is known as ‘pica’, which refers to eating non-food items.

Sometimes dogs chew on things as a sign of boredom or anxiety, and some people say their dogs seem obsessed with rocks. Providing new toys and dog-friendly chews might help to alleviate this, as well as considering other mentally and physically enriching activities. You should also consider talking to a canine behaviourist for more advice. Prevent your dog from accessing stones, even if they are just chewing on them, as they may swallow them by accident. If your dog swallows a stone or pebble, this can lead to serious gastrointestinal obstruction and require surgery.

Why does my dog keep picking up stones?

If your dog is picking up stones but not actually eating them, this is likely to be a behavioural issue. Some dog breeds particularly like carrying or retrieving objects, but this behaviour should be directed towards safe toys rather than stones or sticks.

What happens if a dog eats a stone or rock?

If the stone is small enough, this might pass through to be pooped out. Having said that, even small stones can cause an intestinal blockage, particularly if there is more than one. In fact in that latter situation, this is very severe and will lead to death without surgical treatment. A vet will need to do an assessment, which will involve a full health check and x-rays to try to identify where the stone is. They might need to take a series of x-rays to assess whether the stone is passing through or has caused a blockage. In some situations, the vet will go ahead with surgery straight away, but in others they may wait a little while to closely monitor whether the blockage might pass.

Is it dangerous for dogs to eat stones?

Yes, it is, as eating them can cause an intestinal blockage, which is very serious and requires surgery. It can also cause damage by piercing the intestines, which can lead to severe infection and leakage of contents into the belly. In other scenarios, a stone can remain in the stomach and cause bad inflammation.

Will dogs pass rocks?

They might do, if they are small enough rocks. Yet if your dog has eaten a stone of any size, then you should seek veterinary advice.

My puppy is eating stones, gravel and dirt in the garden, how can I stop them?

It is quite normal for puppies to eat all sorts of things that they shouldn’t, but this is best avoided. Try to provide your puppy with plenty of age-appropriate dog toys and chews, and implement a training regime, if you haven’t already. Giving your puppy something else to focus on can help to reduce the behaviour.

Is it dangerous for dogs to eat stones?

Yes, it is dangerous for dogs, because if they eat stones then it can often lead to a surgical emergency.

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