Last Updated on February 4, 2022 by Marco C.
An older dog starting to chew suddenly can be puzzling. You’d be right to wonder what’s happening. Why is your dog eating everything all of a sudden – here are 5 possible reasons. We’ll go over what exactly this condition is, the causes behind it, the risks you should keep in mind, as well as what you can and should do about it.
Why Is Your Dog Eating Everything All Of A Sudden?
One of the harder parts of being a dog owner is the fact that dogs often can’t tell us exactly what’s wrong when they have a problem. So, you need to read into your dog’s behavior to figure out if there’s a problem, what it might be, and so on. Your dog suddenly destroying things and eating inedible things is one such case. And we do have a name for this condition – it’s Pica.
What Is Pica and Is It Dangerous?
Pica is precisely what we described so far – a dog’s sudden urge to chew and eat anything in front of its muzzle, regardless of whether it’s edible or not, and whether the dog is actually hungry or not. The name comes from Latin where that was the term for the magpie bird. People believed that magpies/picas can eat almost anything, so, Ambrose Paré (1509-1590) chose this term for that condition in dogs.
As for whether pica is dangerous or not – that depends. Pica is not a particular disease, per se. Rather, it’s an umbrella term for any condition that tickles a dog’s urge to chew on and eat things. Some of those conditions are caused by health problems that may be dangerous. Other picas are caused by milder behavioral issues.
In either case, however, the pica itself is dangerous simply by virtue of the risk that your dog may eat something it’s not supposed to. There are a lot of foods and items that are actually toxic to dogs both at home and outside. Not to mention that swallowing certain hard objects can be life-threatening in and of itself.
That last part ought to be obvious but let’s now tackle the 5 possible reasons why is your dog eating everything all of a sudden.
What Causes Pica?
So, why does my dog eat everything outside and at home? There are quite a few possible explanations:
The simplest and most common cause of pica is good old boredom. Dogs need a lot of mental stimulation – much more than many people realize when they get their first pooch. Especially highly intelligent and social breeds like the Labrador Retriever need hours of playtime every day, lots of new interactive dog toys, socialization with their humans, to meet new people and dogs regularly, as well as to visit new places. If you deny your dog that, boredom becomes quite likely, and with it – pica and other destructive behaviors.
Learn more about: Why Do Labradors Chew Everything?
An even worse alternative to mere boredom is separation anxiety. This is especially common for highly social breeds like Labrador Retrievers who need to be near their humans at all times. If you work away from home and you have to leave your dog home alone for 8+ hours a day every day, separation anxiety is all but guaranteed.
Another common behavior is the simple seeking of attention. Dogs will often discover various behaviors that might help them get your attention when you’ve been ignoring them for too long. Think of it like cats barfing near their food bowls when you’ve forgotten to feed them – whatever works to get your attention.
The main thing to watch out for here is not reinforcing this behavior. If you figure out that attention-seeking is at the core of your dog’s pica, stop rewarding your dog with attention immediately, even if it’s negative attention (scolding your dog, etc).
We’re not talking much about teething because young pups’ teething and chewing stuff is not something out of the ordinary. However, if an older dog starts chewing on stuff, there may be some underlying dental problems you need to address immediately.
Other Health Issues
There can be a wide host of internal health issues that can drive your dog to pica. These can include neurological conditions, gastrointestinal problems, micronutrient deficiencies, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and more. Simply put, talking with your vet is a good idea when you notice that your dog has pica.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Starts Eating Everything All Of A Sudden?
As per usual, the first thing we’d recommend is to visit your vet. We know this is a frustrating answer – people typically read online in an attempt to avoid having to go to the vet. But given that pica can be caused by some nasty health problems, it really is best to rule those out by visiting a vet.
One thing you can do to get out of having to go to the vet is thinks of a possible behavioral explanation. If you know for a fact that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety or might be depressed, then chances are that there isn’t a health concern. Even then, however, it’s still smart to go to the vet first. Dogs need a couple of routine vet visits a year anyway so it shouldn’t be a problem.
Once you’ve ruled the possible health causes, the next step is to talk with a canine behaviorist. If the reason your dog is eating everything all of a sudden is behavioral such as stress or separation anxiety, then a behavioral specialist should be able to help. Alternatively, you might be able to fix the issue yourself if you have a bit of experience with dogs.
In Conclusion, Why Is Your Dog Eating Everything All Of A Sudden?
We often hear people asking “Why does my dog chew everything?” and the answer is not always simple. More often than not the problem is behavioral which would make it relatively easy to solve. Other times, however, especially with senior dogs, there may be a serious health problem driving your dog to this kind of behavior. That, plus the fact pica itself is dangerous due to the risk of your dog eating something it’s not supposed to, makes this an issue you want to solve as soon as possible.