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Dog eating non-food things

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Barked: Wed Dec 12, '12 6:15am PST 
Hi, I'm new to the community, but I'm desperate for help. My 8 year old mixed breed pup has suddenly started eating fabric and thread and other non-food items. She has actually completely trimmed our bed skirt, and last night she started in on my shower curtain.

She checked out at the vet and his answer was spend more time with her. The problem is, she is doing it in the middle of the night. I don't really want to resort to crating her.

We have 3 total dogs and she is the oldest. We have had quite a few changes recently and I'm wondering if it is anxiety or stress.

Has anyone dealt with this and what do we do? I'm so frustrated, and worried that it will make her really sick.


I am the Sock- Bandit!!!
Barked: Wed Dec 12, '12 6:22am PST 
"We have 3 total dogs and she is the oldest. We have had quite a few changes recently and I'm wondering if it is anxiety or stress."

Eating and/or chewing on strange things suddenly can indicate stress. Or medical issues, but you say the dog's been recently vetted and checked out fine, right? I've seen dogs do this in the middle of the night who had worms...for obvious reasons even though the dog is eating normally they suddenly feel desperately hungry at odd hours.

Is there anything this dog enjoys chewing on? How much exercise is the dog getting in the course of a normal day? Do you know what possible breeds are in your dog's mix? Even a general description, size and weight would help.

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Barked: Wed Dec 12, '12 7:06am PST 
She loves chewing raw hide bones and does so during the day. The 3 dogs growl and bark about them, so we take them away at night so we can sleep! smile

Chestnut (the dog in question) is a lab, chow mix. She is about 40 pounds and about knee height. She is in good medical condition, negative for heart worms. Just had a bunch of lab work done about a month ago.

She is very active, they have the run of about 1/2 an acre. We also walk them in the evening for about a mile.


we will dance in- the ring without- words
Barked: Wed Dec 12, '12 7:15am PST 
Could be Pica.

Barked: Wed Dec 12, '12 7:22am PST 
My thoughts were the same as Lucille's, when was her last fecal? If she is on monthly heartworm prevention does it also contain a de-wormer?

I would avoid the rawhides altogether as most contain chemicals and can be a terrible choking/obstruction hazard.

Raw meaty bones are great for active chewers. If you're not comfortable with those bully sticks and antlers work well.

We live on a very large piece of property all of our dogs have access to but unless prompted they don't utilize it freely. I would assume the evening walk is the only real exercise she's getting (unless you actually see her racing about or walking herself throughout the day) and up it if at all possible. Try mental exercises too....hide and seek toys and treats, get her using her nose, make her work for her meals by teaching her new tricks or even running through basic obedience.

Crating is a great solution. I'm not sure why people are so opposed to it. Consuming fabric like that isn't just a nuisance, it can be incredibly dangerous. I think it would be wise to either set her up in a room where there is nothing she can rip up and eat, or crate her for her own safety. At least while you're sorting all this out.
Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
Barked: Wed Dec 12, '12 7:35am PST 
You could also try exercising her later at night/evening. I find the time of day I exercise my 2 has more of an impact than the total amount of exercise.

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Barked: Wed Dec 12, '12 7:55am PST 
Thank you for your thoughtful replys. I will discuss different bones with my husband. I have heard of the bully sticks and will look into those more carefully.

She is on a monthly heartworm/dewormer and they did a fecal a month ago.

I have seen her running on the property, the three dogs chase and run and play, she is the oldest, so the other 2 keep her busy.

I do think a lot of this is stress, we just moved over labor day weekend from the house she grew up in, and my older daughter took her dog with her when she moved, so chessy's closest compainion moved out. Since then, she has become super needy and moody. She is a super sweet, loving dog who needs a lot of human contact.

We have crated her when she was a pup, and we crate our 2 year old pup at times. All 3 are comfortable with the crate and will go lay in it when it is open during the day.

I will make our bedroom pet friendly and make sure there is no fabric for her to get to. I will have some bitter apple spray that I will put on things we can't move.

I'll keep you updated on our progress...oh, and I think I will make another appointment with our vet.

On a good note, our younger daugther comes home from college today and will be home a month, so there will be someone around during the day to keep them all company! Maybe that will help!


I am the Sock- Bandit!!!
Barked: Wed Dec 12, '12 8:06am PST 
You do have reason to be concerned. If your dog ingests a piece of fabric and cannot pass it, it can block or cause the intestines to twist and that can require emergency surgery. Bloat/torsion can be fatal in dogs if the symptoms are not recognized soon enough. So yes, eating non-food items must be prevented at this point. Is there a place in your home that you can put Chestnut at night safely that either doesn't have fabric drapes etc, or a spot that you can remove those items? If not, you might consider crating. Until you get to the root cause, management to keep your dog safe is key.

It could be pica, which is essentially an adult dog continually eating an item that has no nutritive value. It's common in dogs who have immune mediated hemolytic anemia, but those dogs tend to eat sand and dirt not fabric. They're attempting to get the minerals they need through ingesting those things (which is closer to geophagia since it doesn't have a behavioral cause). Did Chestnut's recent blood work include a CBC or hematocrit level tests? I'd check with the vet's office to rule out any of the anemias. As mentioned, it certainly can be triggered by recent major changes in a dog's routine, like moving for instance. Any other signs of stress in this pup? Is she pacing, won't settle as normal? sticking close to you or someone else more so than usual?

ETA: Just saw the OPs response regarding a recent move made while I was posting. THat is typical cause of pica as noted above.

Edited by author Wed Dec 12, '12 8:08am PST


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Barked: Wed Dec 12, '12 9:45am PST 
OK, so on my list is another vet appointment, and I will ask about the CBC and possible anemia. When I get home from work I will find the paperwork and see if it is listed.

I will look into the bully bones and try to switch away from rawhide bones completely.

I will make a safe place for her to sleep until we can get it figured out. She seems to be OK during the day, at least that I can tell. We close the doors so they can't get into my sewing room or bedroom during the day.

I will try exercising her more and see if maybe that is it, and I will also try really hard to pay more attention to her...not sure if that is possible, she is my baby and I dote on her when I'm home.

I will keep you updated on the progress.

Thanks again for all the responses. you guys are awesome!